I've talked about Beer Advocate in the past. Many of you may know this. It's why my page count went from about 200 to 5000. It still gets hits every day, despite how submerged it is in not just my Twitter stream and archives but in my subconscious as well. People still care.
I still care.
In case you haven't seen it, you can read the article here. It's...how shall I put it...vitriolic. I was angry at how I and several others were treated. I put on my rant-pants and furiously cranked that bastard out with all the hellfire and brimstone I could muster. I hit "Publish Post" and let it at that. What was born as an angry post by a tiny, minuscule blogger turned onto a behemoth monstrosity of hatred and frustration. Hell, it even spawned a few Twitter accounts chronicling the entire thing. How crazy is that? But, as the comments that once so rapidly poured in stemmed from a deluge to a trickle to finally halting, I let the topic fade. I bring it back, not to pour salt in wounds but to explain and remedy.
Life is too short to hold grudges and animosity. If you've never peered back in the archives, you'll see that, at this blog's heart, it was not just something for me to keep note of what I've tasted for my own personal benefit but to keep me occupied during a terrible time in my life. As I've said before, I don't share a lot about myself on this blog so I'll open up a bit more. I am a product of modern medicine. Without it, I would not exist, as simple as that. My ailments range from the mundane (toe surgery) to the massive (spinal fusion and thoracic vertebrae replacement). I have been to hell and back and I thank whatever is up there that's helping me to "keep on truckin". I've learned at hard expense the value of the spark that is life and how rapidly and suddenly it can be snuffed out. This hard knocks school of mental and physical training has afforded me a rather circumspect view on life. Today's culture of materialism et. al. angers me. Life is too short to be focused on obtaining things. You should focus on obtaining experiences and emotions. Who gives a shit about a Nintendo Wii? Go out and see the world, explore different lifestyles, foods, art. The Wii is a piece of plastic, silicon chips, ceramics, and wasted time. Yeah, yeah. I know you're saying "But Scott! You play so many video games!" This is true but I don't play them solely for the fact of material gain in game. I don't spend all my time trying to obtain that one thing that no one else has. I simply play because I enjoy spending time with the people I've met through it. I've met fascinating people through all walks of life through games like Final Fantasy XI and Team Fortress 2. Video games are an amazing sociological environment, especially massive-multiplayer online games. But, I digress.
Life is too short to hold grudges and I will waive my grudge against Beer Advocate right here and now. I've been in contact with Jason and we both feel that life is too short to carry this on. We've agreed to put this behind us. There is no more between us than just people that enjoy good beer. However, this isn't me rescinding my opinion, no. At the core of that piece is the dislike I still have but I have been able to identify the true target. It was folly to pin the blame on Beer Advocate, pure and simple. I will explain.
What really made it clear for me was a recent article by New Brew Thursday, an online beer blog that I hold in great esteem. Using (to great effect) John Gabriel's Theory of Assholes and Anonymity, they explain what had angered me so much and that caused me to place blame on BA. If you check the comments, you'll see my post. Here it is, in it's sad splendor:
"I love this post.
I know many of you know how I feel about Beer Advocate. While my fervor has calmed quite a bit since my first incendiary post, I still stand by some of what I said. The craft community, at large, is a wonderful community of people that not just care about beer itself but all those involved in it. It is, at its core, a big family. Many home-brewers are completely willing to loan out needed stuff to budding brewers. Many seasoned beer veterans with well stocked beer larders break out the rare and aged for those that haven’t had it with a maniacal glee only seen in the craziest of crazies. Those filled with knowledge take great joy in sharing and discussing what they know. It’s a beautiful thing that so many from such different walks of life can come together and bond over something so simple as beer.
However, this is in person and unfortunately the same sentiment doesn’t always carry over online. True, there are some that go above and beyond the call of duty to the craft beer scene online and are almost more helpful than some I’ve met in person. There are also those that go above and beyond the call of duty to be snarky, rude, and difficult online. There are those that feel that if you don’t come into a situation with, not just a basic but rather advanced, knowledge then you are unfit for the community at large. It is a shame but it happens.
You know how I feel about BA but you also don’t. For years I’ve loved Beer Advocate. I first came upon it my freshman year at college. My first beer was a can of Busch Light and it was the worst thing I’d ever tasted. I couldn’t help but think: “There must be something better than this.” I did a quick search online and came across Beer Advocate. It opened my eyes. Through means of which I won’t discuss here, I procured my first bottle of craft brew: Dogfish 60 Minute. It was the second beer I ever had and I loved it. I would regularly spend hours upon hours on the Beer Advocate site, making up intricate shopping lists (much to the chagrin of one-stop shoppers). I waited patiently for three years to sign up for the forums. I respected them so much that, in the face of internet anonymity, I waited for the 21 year old age minimum. That’s how much I loved them. And, I still do to some extent.
I won’t deny what the brothers have done. They are an immense service to the craft beer community and will continue to do so through their festivals, magazine, and website. The post I wrote was hurtful, I agree and some of it was exceedingly harsh. It was not pure malice and hatred but rather hurt and betrayal at the events that had happened. Brothers, if you can here me, I won’t lie. Even after the fiasco I still visit the forums using a proxy, just to read. If you ever want to have a beer, let me know. I would willingly have a beer with you and try to fix things in the name of craft beer. I wish that things had gone better. I wish that the snide and snark on the forums was better controlled. But what can I do aside from having a beer."
New Brew Thursday is completely and astoundingly right. Beer is SUCH a humble hobby. It was born of a need to use grain and have a safe beverage that wasn't contaminated like their groundwater. It was a food for the working class in olden times. How can a hobby coming from such meek origins have people in it that continue to be huge, pompous assholes. It boggles my mind. While the Brother's run a good site, there are people on there that make it extremely difficult for newbies to use it. They are just outright vicious and hurtful to anyone that doesn't come in with a Cicerone-quality level of knowledge (not slamming Cicerone, they are awesome). For some, if you don't know the proper cave lagering temperature for a Czech pils in the 1800s before you go on there, you're shit outta luck getting aid from them. There are genuinely helpful people on there, true, but there are some major dicks on there taking hearty pulls and deep draws from their bottle of Bitch-Sass flavor Haterade (which, again NBT uses to great effect). Why? I don't understand it. I'd appreciate it if the Brothers could shift their moderating powers from repeat threads and such to curtailing this but they're only two guys.
NBT says it probably better than I can, so I'll repeat their tag-line (sorry for the cop-out guys): Advocacy for great beer starts by not being a straight up hater. And so help me, that's what I'm going to do. So, join me my fellow brethren. Put down the bottle of hatred and pick up a bottle of craft beer. Papazian says it best: Relax, have a (home) brew.
Stay classy, readers.