Want to advocate for Craft Beer? Then don’t be a hater!

If this is your first day on the internet, and this just happened to be the first website you have ever journeyed too, you might not know what a hater is.  So let me take a moment to explain with the use of visual graphics to help you understand.

Craft beer geeks can be & generally are some of the nicest people you will ever meet, which is a HUGE reason I am so passionate about the craft beer industry. In the last year, I have met and drank beer with some of the coolest people on the planet. I have attended events where there are hundreds of complete strangers sharing beer, sharing stories, and making lasting friendships in the short course of a “morning beer festival session”. So with all these cool people, why the need to talk about “haters” .. cause they exist too, even among the super nice ( in real life ) people that you meet at craft beer events.

Let’s face it, the anonymity of your darkened second bedroom, lit only by the light of your computer screen, after having a few tasty craft beers might make you a little more willing to say and do things online that you wouldn’t feel comfortable doing in the real world. For example. I have seen hundreds of people who bash [ Beer Advocate ] on twitter, there are even “anti beer advocate” twitter accounts that are devoted to pointing out all the negative things about Beer Advocate’s website, their community and even the founders [ Jason ] and [ Todd Alström ]. We, unfortunately, even got into the fray one night during a discussion, turned slug fest, about the way BA uses their twitter account.

Another victim of this particular type of online bashing is the Beer Wars movie. Of course, if you watched our last episode, you saw that we sat with Anat Baron and talked about the movie, and touched on a few of the main concerns that people have expressed about the movie. If you haven’t seen our episode, check it out, and if you haven’t seen the movie, then FOR SURE get on that by going here : [ Beer Wars Website ]. What people are completely comfortable saying on twitter, or forums or wherever online .. they would not likely feel comfortable expressing to the face of the movie maker herself. Of course, this being the new digital age, even if Anat, or the Alström Bros don’t follow you online, they are likely to see exactly what you say about them. So even on that level, it is something to think about before you go drink your haterade and get all crazy online.

So, dear reader, I can imagine you thinking to yourself two things :

1. The Alström Bros and Anat Baron are adults, professional, and celebrities so they should have thicker skin and deal with it
and
2. I have the right to say whatever I want and express my opinion as I see fit.

You are completely correct on both thoughts. This post is not designed to kiss the Beer Advocate brothers, or Anat’s ass or coddle them or even try to convince you that you can’t speak your mind online. This post is an effort to remind you that we are all working towards the same goal. Advocating for craft beer and helping the masses understand that they have choice, and to exercise that choice.

Personally, I don’t have any love for the BA website, or the brothers themselves ( having never met either one in person ), but NO ONE can argue the immense contribution they have made to the craft beer world, or the community at large. I have tons of love for Anat, having met her and having seen what an incredible person she is, and I genuinely love the Beer Wars movie , despite it’s flaws. Regardless of how you feel about the movie, you have to admit that this documentary does amazing things for the craft beer world. It puts the real struggle in the marketplace out in the open and exposes the flaws in how distribution in the US is handled, and how that distribution model puts all the power & choice into the hands of 2 large corporate beer makers. If you think Rhonda is stupid, and her beer idea was lame .. fine.. but her story, and her struggle are both very similar to what the average small craft brewer goes through trying to get thier beer to market. If you think that Sam from Dogfish Head is too big to be considered a story to focus on for this movie about craft brewers .. then fine but aren’t you happy for his success? Don’t you wish all the really cool craft brewers out there could find the type of success that Dogfish Head, Stone Brewing Co, Avery Brewing Co, etc.. etc.. have begun to have in the last few years? Even if you may not like every beer they produce, doesn’t it make you happy to be able to go into a craft beer store, and CHOOSE not to buy that beer, but to buy a different beer that you do like ?

These type of choices exist for two reasons ..
1. There are amazing and truly talented craft brewers who are putting everything on the line to do what they love, and produce a high quality, artisanal product that they believe in.
2. We have supported those efforts by buying those beers, and telling our friends about how great they are.

If we as the community of “advocates” can’t understand the contribution of websites like [ Rate Beer ] & Beer Advocate, or pod casts like ours, [ Hop Cast ], [ Two Beer Queers ] and many others and especially movies like Beer Wars bring to our beloved craft beer world, then you haven’t been paying attention to the revolution.

So, what does that mean? Are we not allowed to dislike a beer, or dislike a website? Of course not. Choice is at the very heart of what we are trying to advocate for, so how can we remove the choice to like or dislike something. However, there is a difference between not liking something and going out of the way to hate on it. For instance. Are you blogger that wants to write a review about Beer Wars ? Did you find something you didn’t like in the movie ? Talk about that, but also focus as much or more time on what you did like about it, and how you felt it contributes to the craft beer movement. Also, hit up Anat on twitter .. you can find her at [ Beer Wars ]. She is extremely responsive, and will maybe help you understand the bits of the movie you didn’t get, or didn’t like.

Does Beer Advocates website, and forum community just completely piss you off ? Great .. be a force for change in the community, helping others to see that we are all trying to be advocates .. not snobs, lovers of craft beer .. not haters. These are the ways that we can truly advocate. Our community is getting large, and with a large group of people online, the trolls get activated. Ultimately you can not beat the trolls, but you can be louder, and more persuasive then they are.

With all the new craft beer drinkers coming into our online community every day, what impression do we want them to get ? That we are a bunch of beer snobs, or beer douche-bags that won’t accept them because they can’t explain the difference between a Barley Wine and an IPA .. or do we want them to see us as a group of buddies who love beer, and want to enjoy their journey through craft beer as much as we enjoyed our own ?

I, for one, choose the latter, and if you’re out there supporting the craft beer revolution, then I tip my glass to you, and say Cheers!

Stay Safe & Drink Beer.

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34 Responses to Want to advocate for Craft Beer? Then don’t be a hater!

  1. 2guysdrink says:

    While we are a little late to the “online” party, we have been in the Craft Beer scene for 8+ years. This is a great article by Newbrew, which gives the expert and noob something to ponder. Greg is on point, as well as Anat. The great thing about this is while we all have our opinions, stating them is one thing; advocating our opinion as fact is another thing all together.

    Matt and I know a few who have posted on this article, as well as many players who took part in BEER WARS. We also have had/sampled a vast percentage of craft/micro brews the world over. We can’t agree on everything. However, our experience has led us to advocate towards trends. “If you like beer XYZ, you will likely enjoy beer RST…”

    As long as were are ALL moving in a positive direction, we can have a chance at monumental change in the industry as a whole. Otherwise, personal differences and political BS will overshadow our message, distracting newcomers and giving ammunition to the Big 3.

  2. 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.

  3. Greg Koch says:

    Joe,

    Even wars have “Rules Of Engagement.” Not to draw any analogy to war, but the point is that enforcing a reasonable code would not be advocating for any particular brewer or brewery, but instead would be protecting the User Experience!

    And there would be peace throughout the land….

    Cheers,

    Greg

  4. Joe Tucker says:

    Nice discussion here and I hope some coming together in peace and love of beer – the way it’s been for so many years before some recent sniping.

    I just wanted to mention that we spun off the Hop Press with a different editor, Mario Rubio, and a number of industry writers as a bridge to the larger community and as a platform for more intelligent discussion. Blog posts are harder to derail than forum threads based on their structure. I heartily encourage those looking for a deeper discussion to read the Hop Press, guest-write for HopPress and contact mario at ratebeer.com. I got here from Josh Christie’s article there.

    I believe our RateBeer forums should be as free a place as possible. We do moderate them – and take the many complaints for it – but we want to stay far FAR away from any impression that we’re protecting or advocating any particular brewer or brewery. We are a consumer beer web site and we do all we can for the craft beer industry, however we do put consumer interests and freedom first.

  5. Pingback: Just Play Nice, Beer Geeks! | Brews and Books

  6. Pingback: Thoughts on Beer » Why Beer Wars Is Good for Craft Beer

  7. erik says:

    I think the main area of concern is that it all boils down to infighting.

    Eh, I tend to disagree. As an industry, I see craft beer as having much more camaraderie than infighting. I’ve never seen an industry where so many people who should be competitors go out of their way to help each other out.

    No, I would say that the main problem here is lack of respect. As is suggested at the beginning of the post in John Gabriel’s Internet Dickwad Theory, for whatever reason, people feel like that the (relative) anonymity of the internet gives them the license to be outright dicks. As Greg noted, if you meet these people in person, most of them will be totally civil.

    My buddies and me in college came up with a good rule that we tend to try to stick by, and I think it’s gotten us far in life:

    Don’t be a dick.

    Is it REALLY that hard?

  8. bierfesten says:

    Thanks to the social media of twitter I was able to link to this article and I’m glad I did. The benefit of social websites such as blogs etc is the comments that can be associated with them, so although the author has one point of view there are counter arguments presented. Instead of some magazines not wanting to say bad words about beers/breweries for fear of losing advertising, bloggers can.

    Ratebeer & Beer Advocate created a database of beers and beer bars for anyone to look at free of charge and that is how i learned, for that I’m thankful. But I have always found their discussions to trail off into school kid bullshit for which I’m not interested in participating in, so i never have. They have their faults and I dont think bloggers should not talk about them, as the only way to grow is fix the cracks.

    Beer Wars is the first movie trying to tell the story of craft and unfortunately its going to get both good and bad reviews. I dont think bloggers should be banished or lambasted for their honest appraisal of the movie. But personal attacks on Anat for trying to create a movie for our industry is not warranted.

    Having spent years in the wine industry I am yet to ever meet an ‘expert’ that knows everything, and I’m sure its the same in the beer world. Beer is a growing industry that is definitely exciting, and we have more websites and social media in which to learn from. I have definitely found some great blogs with opinionated pieces whereby they have the balls to say what they think in a constructive manner.

  9. rrryanc says:

    The opposite of haterade is kool-aid. Neither should be consumed in vast quantities.

    I was one of the people watching live in theater when Beer Wars first came out. I was hoping for a movie that I could show my friends and family to help explain why I loved beer so much. Something I’d be proud to support and evangelize.

    Unfortunately, I really didn’t think Beer Wars hit that mark. Ever hear of the saying “The best argument against something is a bad argument for it?” That’s what I feel like with the movie. ( Yeah, well, you know, that’s just, like, your opinion, man ). I read Anat’s website, Beer Advocate, random google links for the 2 weeks after the movie, and there were basically 4 camps of thought: 1) The I love craft beer, anything associated with craft beer can do no wrong and therefore Beer Wars is the greatest thing ever. 2) The movie certainly had flaws, but it advances craft beer in general and should be supported. 3) The movie’s flaws overshadow the benefit to the craft market and 4) the I irrationally hate the movie/creator for random reason crowd. Unfortunately, much of the discussion immediately after the release of the movie was a haterade/kool-aide deluge between groups 1/2 and 4. I know I personally grew tired of searching for answers to my questions about the movie after a couple of weeks. And to blame that all on the haters is disingenuous in my opinion.

    Perhaps one of the biggest problems was the lack of a suitable forum. BeerAdvocate is a cool website, and certainly has the draw factor. But their forums basically are terrible. They’re too slow, they’re confusing to navigate( and the existing navigation isn’t great ), and like Greg mentions above, the moderation is really lacking. I’ve seen threads where the guys and gals running the site have been involved in emotionally driven, less-than-professional attack-fests of their own. Good discourse needs to start at the top and be enforced all the way down.

    Back to the original post though, and the TL;DR version of my comment: While being a hater certainly isn’t going to help the craft beer world, supporting anything craft beer related just because it’s craft beer related isn’t going to help in the long run either. Constantly consuming kool-aid is nearly as detrimental as constantly drinking the haterade.

  10. Brad says:

    Anat, it’s regrettable and inexcusable that people would choose to publish those kind of ad-hominem attacks. The fact that people are sometimes able to lose all sense of decorum and decency when lashing out in online interactions has never been lost on me, nor has it failed to disappoint me.

    But, I hope and think Greg’s right in that this still reflects a small minority of the group. At the same time, that everyone has to deal with it remains unfortunate.

    NBT, this has been a positive and important discussion, and thanks be to you for catalyzing it.

  11. John says:

    Well written, Stephen.

    …drinking an Avery Dugana IPA. Good Stuff.

    ;)

  12. I think the main area of concern is that it all boils down to infighting. Let’s admit it, compared to the rest of the scene out there, the beergeek community is tiny. Instead of “RAWRing” at each other we should be, ahem, evangelizing others.

    We speak about craft brewers the put out so-so beers. Hey, I think it’s fantastic that they’re turning out ANYTHING in the climate we’re in. If I could shake every craft brewers hand I would. Even then ones I give C-’s to.

    At the same time, there is a time for criticism. And in the case of forum moderation and what Greg wrote, sometimes harsh criticism. It’s all a delicate balancing act as it is with anything in life. I think it’s perfectly reasonable to expect someone to act like a human being with courtesy, integrity, and honesty. I admit I have rated beers poorly on BA, but that’s my opinion. Now did I go on to bash the brewer and their mothers? Of course not. I recommend other possibilities and try to highlight the positives. That’s why it’s called constructive criticism.

    I’m also the first to admit that I am that “newbie” Frankly, I don’t know what I’m talking about but it’s a learning process and honestly, by reading most of your blogs and reviews, it enables me to understand to a deeper extent what exactly I’m dealing with. You have to understand that there is a community of “newbies” like me who are looking at what you’re all doing and taking prompts and hints from it. If there is a lot of infighting it does mold our perception of the community.

    Just a little beer for thought :)

  13. DankBrews says:

    I can agree for the most part with all that has been said above (by everyone). Kudos to a great post, a great idea, and job very very well done.

  14. Thomas Ham says:

    And Anat, what I’ve said about people is nowhere near that! You are right, that’s just pure slander and hate! What do they have to say about the love potion that is craft beer? They’re obviously drinking haterade for breakfast, second breakfast, elevenses, luncheon, afternoon tea, dinner and supper. Damn angry hobbitses!

  15. Thomas Ham says:

    I read this yesterday and I’ve been digesting it ever since. Now, thanks to activity by all of you guys, I have even more to digest. UGH.

    I know I’ve caught myself sniping at certain power houses in the craft beer world, now reflecting on it, I’m ashamed of ever doing it. These are people I do not know in person, but just their online persona. The online persona’s of people are not necessarily who they are in person.

    I’ve met quite a few people in person from the beer community (twitter, FB, forums, BA, RateBeer, the list goes on) and I hope they see my sarcastic smart ass banter online is only a small portion of who I am in person. This is the same for all of you, yet I didn’t see it that way! Some of these folks are really great people, and not only because they enjoy beer. All the guys from NBT are friendly, personable, funny and intelligent. I’d hang out with these fools if they just wanted to grab dinner! But, I digress.

    I just want to say to Stephen that I’m glad you wrote this and helped me reflect on my attitude towards some people’s online persona’s. No matter how I feel about their actions online, they’re probably great people in person. Also, they’re important to the craft beer world! People like Anat, Jason & Todd, Greg, Dr. Bill, NBT and the other podcasters, Wench and other bloggers and so forth.

    I want to ask for forgiveness for anything I’ve said about any of you guys publicly or quietly to friends and I want to thank you all for the hard work you do promoting a small yet booming industry.

  16. Anat Baron says:

    The haters (that I’ve “met”) aren’t necessarily participators. They tend to hide behind their blogs or cute BA avatars.
    And there’s a difference between criticism and straight venom.
    Like Greg, I used to engage and talk back but then realized there was no point. And Brad, I’m choosing not to promote the “haters” by posting links to them. But just so you know that I can’t make this stuff up, here’s what prompted my (separate) blog post. And this is just the tip of the iceberg:
    “Anat Barton. I don’t get it. Here’s a Corporate DUCK. She looks, acts, talks and has been everything corporate and yet she’s exposing the OBVIOUS truths about the big three. What kind of money making hypocritical piece of shit is this!? Maybe she has a axe to grind with some Bud executive who banged her in the corporate bathroom during an office party and forgot her name the next day?? I don’t know and who really cares? ;-}”

  17. erik says:

    Just as an aside, if everybody could just have wonderful level-headed discussion like all of this, then there wouldn’t be a problem.

    C’mon, people! Where are the haters? Let’s see some hate!

    Sheesh.

  18. New Brew Thursday says:

    Thanks Greg! The feeling is mutual.

  19. Greg Koch says:

    Great post about a timely subject.

    I think it’s important to note that the ‘haters’, or whatever they might be called, are a tiny fractional percentage of beer fans. However, the silent majority sometimes allows this fractional fringe percentage to dominate the conversation (as fractional fringe percentages are wont to do). They take the conversation sideways, off into directions that often essentially shut down intelligent discourse…because those interested in the intelligent discourse don’t want to speak up and suffer the ire of the ‘hater.’ They find it more reasonable to disengage from the conversation rather than to stoop to that level. What we’re left with is a room that’s (largely) full of the fringe.

    The most damaging aspect of this, IMO, is that the newbie stops by…they’re intrigued, they’ve heard about craft beer, they want to learn more…and they get chased away as a result of encountering conversations that most people would find boorish and uninspired. Score one for the “Say Anything Online” crowd, but not for craft beer as we just lost someone that wanted to be a part…but not a part of the type of conversation they saw.

    This is, of course, not new and not particular to craft beer. I’ve joked a few times about “going Jay & Silent Bob” on the haters (referencing a part in the movie “Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back” in which they fly to the houses of haters of theirs and summarily deck ‘em). I’ve talked with plenty of haters in person, and I’ve never wanted to deck anyone I’m happy to say. In person, they largely tend to act a little more like human beings. That’s a good thing. Nice to know they have it in them!

    IMO, it all boils down to Moderation of forums. I can tell you that if someone comes to my bar, interjects themselves into every conversation and ruins it by being a bore, we tell them to leave. More than once, we tell them to stop coming in. It hurts business. Go to the bar that allows it with no moderation, and in no time you have a bar full of drunk bores…no one else wants to go in. Do we have those people in our bar? Yep. But they know they don’t get to be that person in our place, and if they want to be, they’ve gotta go someplace else.

    I have been a member of BeerAdvocate and RateBeer for about eight years each. I love participating in the conversation. I enjoy talking with beer geeks…they’re my people! But when it devolves into a snip-fest, count me out. I leave, lest I get caught up in it (and it’s happened a couple of times, I regret to admit). MOST of the time, the conversation is civil and intelligent, but the tolerance of ‘haters’ has indeed seemed to be a bit on the rise lately. I don’t think we should tolerate it, and for those that do…well, count me out of that conversation. While I reserve the right to speak to someone in the same tone that they speak to me, if you use a hater tone, well, you’re on your own. I prefer to focus my energies elsewhere. Like doing good stuff for people that like it.

    Stephen, Anat, Jason & Todd, Wenchie, and SO many others: I love knowing you guys and hanging out with you, whether in person or virtually. You’re good peeps!

    Cheers,

    Greg Koch, CEO
    Stone Brewing Co.
    Beer Geek (That’s why I’m here!)

  20. Brad says:

    Reading this post and the comments, I guess I’m still a little fuzzy as to what constitutes “hating” and what is reasonable criticism. If there was a single incident or handful of incidents that inspired this plea, perhaps it could be sketched out a little more clearly for those of us trying to catch up.

    I think as long as things don’t veer off into the personal (unless that’s the real crux of an issue) or the trivial, it is more than reasonable for beer lovers to air their critiques of the industry, the community, and things related to the same. Criticism is how we hold ourselves to high standards and push things into a state of (hopefully constant) improvement.

    Beer lovers are in no way obligated to be any more positive toward a film or a Web site than they honestly feel inclined to be, simply because it’s about beer. I don’t quite think you’re going so far as to imply otherwise, but we ought not to censor our own thoughts just because a) anything gets an automatic bonus for being beer-related or b) we don’t want to seem “mean.” At the same time, this doesn’t mean credit shouldn’t be given where it’s due. I think the fair-minded among us understand this and try to take heed of it.

  21. Anat Baron says:

    This is not a popularity contest. I couldn’t care less about being perceived as great. That’s not the point. And I actually welcome criticism. I admitted long ago that my film (like most documentaries) is flawed. It’s the nature of the beast when you’re not working off a script. I’m sure that brewers know that not every beer they create will be embraced. We (creators) like the dialogue. That’s why we’re Twitter fanatics.
    I LOVE being able to talk directly to people. Something unimaginable a few years ago. But I’d like to move on to the issues.

  22. New Brew Thursday says:

    Well said Wench!

    It’s not a question of having to say good things about bad beer … it is about realizing that there is enough good, great, amazing, awesome, orgasmic beer out there that we could fill thousands of blogs without having to focus on the beers that are sub-par.

  23. Wow, I feel like I am “late” to the party on this one.

    I for one completely agree with Stephen as I consider myself to be a craft beer evangelist and huge advocate of the entire industry. Now having said that, I have also been guilty of being involved in a Beer Advocate & Alstrom “hate-fest” — which unfortunately blemished my Internet brand, destroyed my chances at developing a relationship with the Alstrom Brothers and arguably contributed to my recent job loss.

    I contribute my behavior to be a result of “mob psychology” or “groupthink.” The theory of “mob psychology” states that individuals tend to behave in a different manner as part of a group in contrast to acting independently. Members of a group are prone to acting in ways that they would deem immoral or unjust if in control of their behavior. This is not due to change in one’s belief or principle, but rather the fact that individuals tend to ignore or avoid one’s conscience or rational judgement.

    It can be said that individuals in a group defer their goals and take upon the identity of the group. Therefore, members of a group are likely to commit acts they would never commit alone. Being in a group allows individuals to defer blame, responsibility, accountability, and/or judgement upon the group.

    Unfortunately, I see this happen way too often in the Internet realm. All it takes is for one person in the craft beer industry to make a negative comment and for another person to jump on the bandwagon. Before you know it, you get a mob of protestors “uniting” together to negatively attack a beer, a brewer, a brewery, a beer movie, a beer writer etc…

    My mother used to tell me all the time “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” And that is the mantra of my blog. I am so sick and tired of reading bad reviews. If I do not like a particular beer or find it to have flaws, then I do not write about it. SIMPLE AS THAT. If I do not enjoy a beer dinner and think that the pairing were poorly matched and that the food and beer was sub-par, then I don’t right about the event.

    Now having said this, I also will not sacrifice my own reputation as a beer connoisseur in order to “protect” the beer industry. I will not stand behind a company or promote a beer that I do not believe in or respect. But this does not mean I will insult them publicly. However, when asked my opinion I do have the right to give it.

    And when it comes to voicing my “negative” opinions, I am extremely careful about how I phrase it and what platform I use to say it. Being a veteran of restaurants, I never want to suggest items off the menu that I do not particularly like. But as an employee of the restaurant, I also do not want to hurt the restaurant’s reputation. So my solution was always to say, “that is not my favorite item on the menu.” Simple as that. Because then, when the guest is unsatisfied with the meal and tells me so I can always tell them that I did say it was not my personal favorite item — total ass covering!

    When asked my opinion on a beer that I do not particularly like, I usually try to use the same phrase. “It is not my favorite beer in that style.” Or “I prefer so-and-so’s beer of the same style.” When “reviewing” beers, I stick to industry-accepted, “neutral” beer terminology (such as BJCP descriptors).

    Now, if I like a beer or if I am excited about a brewery, event, dinner etc … I do the complete opposite. I will promote the SHIT out of it!

    Okay, time to get off my soap box.

    Thanks Stephen for posting this!

    *** WENCHIE ***

  24. New Brew Thursday says:

    I completely agree that saying everything tastes like unicorns peed it through a glitter filter would be just as bad as hating on it, and like I said, the choice to like or dislike is at the very heart of we are supposed to be advocating. The problem, for me, is when a beer tastes like crap, people tend to forget that that is THEIR opinion.

    I have had several beers that are described as being unicorn & rainbow in nature, and have absolutely hated them. While others that get horrible reviews, become my favorite beer.

    I think the key, is that when we talk about craft beer as a whole, that we focus more on the positive then the negative.

  25. Adam Keele says:

    Anat, you are the greatest!
    Oh, and I want ALL the extra interviews you did, including all six hours of Michael Jackson!

  26. erik says:

    Come on, Anat. Don’t be a hater. That little “blogger” paragraph is pretty incendiary, there. It got me all defensive and everything. I even wrote a huge response. But I deleted it because that’s not the point here.

    Moving on, there’s a big difference between being a hater and attempting to thoughtfully critique something. There’s a place for critique. If someone makes a beer that tastes like total crap and everybody goes around saying that it tastes like it’s awesome and crafted by unicorns, then nobody’s gaining anything.

    There has to be a place for balanced commentary, because in criticism there is growth.

    One of the reasons I don’t post very often on BA is because of all of the snarky bullshit. I feel like it’s often difficult to state an opinion without being outright bashed.

    Maybe you’re right. Maybe I should take the high road and just keep posting anyway and try to set an example of being a good citizen, but it seems to me to be just feeding the trolls.

    I think on some level I’d rather just keep my own corner, try to keep snark for comedy, and keep on attempting constructive criticism instead of playing the “We’re All The Most Awesome” game.

    Don’t you get equally as tired of people telling you that everything they try is great? Where’s the balance?

  27. Anat Baron says:

    Wow, I spent time yesterday writing a blog post called “CALL TO ACTION: Why Beer Wars Matters” in reaction to the numerous personal attacks (yes, my Google feed catches them all). One was so vicious that it is pure slander. And yes, I have thick skin. When you make a movie (and put yourself in it) you know that reaction will vary from love to hate. It’s subjective. What I didn’t expect was the complete lack of perspective from the craft beer community.

    I do know Jason and Todd Alstrom and have since 2006 when they spent hours with my crew shooting an interview (that must be seen). They were early supporters of the film, before they ever saw it. They promoted it on their site, magazine, newsletters and even had the balls to invite me to moderate sessions with craft brewers at the American Craft Beer Festival last June. All this venom and hate do not match up with 2 guys who have shown me (by their actions) that they believe in getting the message out about better beer and consumer choice. They have never asked me for a penny (while others like Gary Vee had their hand out). So all this petty stuff, frankly feels like high school.

    From where I sit, the craft beer community is at a crossroads. When I first entered your world at GABF in 2005, I remember being awed by the camaraderie. Especially among the brewers themselves. Cheering each other on. It’s what motivated me to make craft beer the focus of the film. But now it looks to me like the community is fractured. Regional. Faceless. Why? Because it’s gone through a huge growth spurt. And so the focus now is on growth and continually creating the latest “hot” beer. But it’s a community of BIG personalities and the “haters” who make the most noise get attention that way. But I feel like it could be so much more. There are millions of you. And yes, I know the focus is on what beer you drank/brewed last night and what you’ll drink/brew tomorrow but you have an opportunity. And that’s to use your “power” to create change. To actually start a movement. You want a revolution, then you need to come together to create change. Not to create armies.

    I made a movie to start a conversation. And it never got off the ground because beer bloggers saw themselves as film critics and decided to critique the content of the film. Did they ever wonder what Rhonda symbolizes? Maybe her failure juxtaposed to the craft brewers’ success says something. Certainly those who watch the film as a movie, get it.

    And now I have to go. I’m going to write a blog post about Avatar and tell James Cameron what’s wrong with his film. Come on people. This is a great time for craft beer. Why not bring new people in? Or is the whole point to stay exclusive and elitist?

    Oh, and if you want to read more from me (masochist!), blog post is at http://beerwarsmovie.com/

  28. Katy Too says:

    I find that in todays crazy-ness and hate filled lives someone needs to start changing things. Why not let it be the Craft beer world. Let’s take the advice above and start a revolution!

    thegreatbeeradventure.blogspot.com

  29. Thank you for this and being real … you hit the nail on the head. Cheers!!

  30. Elizabeth says:

    Cheers to you New Brew Thursday! Well said.

    A lot of people seem to forget that although Beer Wars may not have opened their know-it-all-beer-snob eyes any wider, it IS an excellent way to introduce millions of macro brew drinkers to the wonderful world of Craft Brew and change the way they drink. If not particularly useful for them, it’s a great tool for the cause.

  31. sandy says:

    I totally agree…I and other friends have posted friendly informational or opinion items on BA among other forums and have been blasted by people, these “dickwads”. the funny thing is, the state we live in is small, and the beer scene is small and we know who a lot of these people are. They are def. not as confrontational in person.

  32. Mikey says:

    Nicely stated. I know that only being active in the craft beer community for less than a year, I’ve hesitated to post on forums (especially BA) because I see so many people get bashed for not being able to “learn how to use the site, that has already been answered in section blah blah blah” and as a result I’ve not posted many times when I wanted to.

    So the obvious response to the old golden rule, do unto others… For the most part, I don’t like to post anywhere unless I have something good to say or something helpful to offer.

    That being said, nice article ;-)

    Cheers!

  33. Lori says:

    Thanks for putting this out there. I hope every person tells 10 friends about Beer Wars and people can get the word out so people can know more about the choices we have. And you are spot on about Anat being an entrepreneur trying to pursue her dreams in America, just like Sam. Have any of the so called “critics” taken the time to understand what she invested to get this film out and the roadblocks she faces? I have, since as you say, she is super responsive. Let’s all take on big beer, support craft brewers and have more people see Beer Wars!

  34. SudsyMaggie says:

    SPOT on, dude. This needed to be said, thanks for saying it.