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10 reasons why it was better when fewer people knew about good beer

Jun 1, 2011

1. When a limited beer was released it used to be possible to stroll leisurely down to the store, anytime within the first couple of weeks of it being out, and pick up as much as you wanted. Now one has to be monitoring Twitter, Facebook, beeradvocate.com and untappd constantly, and logistical nightmares ensue as plans have to be changed, journey’s have to be made and store owners need to be befriended before one has a hope of even finding a single bottle. It’s taken the joy out of it for me, and I’ve given up.

2. Beer events and bars were never impossibly crowded and noisy. I used to be able to GET a ticket to Brewgrass if I wanted; I could easily GET a seat at The Brick Store bar at peak times.

3. When a cask turned up at a local bar, it wasn’t necessary to arrive within 60 minutes of the tapping to ensure you could get a pint!

4. A little knowledge is a dangerous thing. I find so many people annoying these days as they impart their new found ‘expertise’ which is shallow, riddled with errors and generally not knowledgeable at ALL. Irritating.

5. Beer is ‘trendy’ – I hate that my ordering of a great beer in a bar seems to automatically illicit moronic responses from bar staff and other patrons as they try to engage me in hipster remarks relating to my wisdom about choosing ‘such a GREAT beer’. Again, irritating.

6. Discernment is being eroded. Far too many ignorant people believe that ALL, new ‘craft’ beer must be great because it’s ‘craft’. NO! Much of it is mediocre and some of it is plain bad. The new found demand also encourages breweries to rush unready, mediocre beer to the market (because it WILL sell regardless), and with that comes quality control issues.

7. With higher demand, prices have climbed.

8. Tyranny of choice.

9. The explosion of great beer into many venues that never used to know about it has led to dreadful problems in terms of their preparation, care and delivery of the beer. Craft beer in frozen glassware, dirty lines, non-rotation of taps, poorly kept beer etc. are symptoms of this. It would be better being restricted to those venues that actually *know* what they are doing.

10. With more people interested in beer, high quality beers are being wasted on the inexperienced. People without the palate and tools to appreciate the very best beer are STARTING on high-end beers without any understanding or grounding in what they are doing. It’s wasted on them. You have to know something about bad beer before you can fully appreciate good beer.


  1. Lisa

    Reminds of of how the internet changed when the Great Unwashed started discovering Usenet and posting stupid questions in alt.fan.wedge. Could they not have stayed in rec.arts.sf.starwars.misc until they were really ready?

    (Totally with you on #5 & #7, fwiw).

  2. Mark

    Blame it on black tuesday and ebay.

  3. FlagonofAle

    I do agree that festivals and events are often more crowded than they should be. This is mostly a problem of mismanagement, not necessarily because there are too many people in on “the secret” in my opinion, though.

    You forgot BeerAdvocate. BeerAdvocate is the worst thing about the contemporary beer scene. We even have mostly unreliable people listing unverified “QC issues” publicly (See #4) for example.

  4. JoeLikesBeer

    Frequent saying where I work: “This job would be a lot easier if we didn’t have any customers.”

  5. Niklas

    You’ve hit on a lot of pitfalls of the “craft beer” explosion with this post. In terms of the ATL market, as you have noted many times, it’s a retail- and event-based pseudo-beer culture, and as such exudes many of the problematic qualities you cite above in greater doses compared to more entrenched US beer markets. One sees notices for all kinds of intriguing events scattered around town (usually requiring a 45-minute drive with no public transport options) — rare cask of xxxx! Vertical tasting of xxx! Tomme Arthur performing a magic show while pouring some flat Angel’s Share! — but it becomes a bit wearying. I find that the most satisfying beer experiences in the ATL are going to a high-quality venue and having an intelligent discussion about beer in general with the bartender and fellow bar patrons, whether it’s the subtle charms of an exquisitely crafted pale ale or an equally exception bourbon barrel aged Belgian quadruple. Sadly, these experiences are somewhat rare amidst the din of hype and seemingly blissful ignorance.

    • Ding

      Good Lord Niklas – did I write that for you!!??

  6. CaptainObvious

    I totally just Tweeted this!

  7. CaptainObvious

    Oh, and I posted it on my facebook, Untapp’d it (or whatever) , and already had my comment deleted and profile removed from beeradvocate.

    • Ding


  8. Ben

    As always, your opinions are reasonable and well spoken, and also as always I disagree with much of it, as I’ve mentioned to you before.

    Very glad to see you still sharing your thoughts! Certainly evocative even if we’re on different pages.

    Coincidentally, I found your blog tonight shortly after I posted some comments on BA that I suspect will result in my account being banned and contributions deleted. Your blog is at the least a partial substitute for what I suspect is my soon-to-be loss of access to BA.

  9. Niklas

    Call me Ding, Jr. for I have learned from the master! I devoured your BA reviews and posts like a hungry scholar and determined that they exposed the truth.

  10. Sam Tierney

    Valid issues but I think that maturity in beer culture just takes time. In northern California we have had some quality bars around for 25 years now serving the best craft beer. I’m generally hoot with things but I bet it isn’t like that everywhere.

  11. BeWeak

    I understand the problem of ignorance in terms of basic beer knowledge and tradition within American beer culture- and agree wholeheartedly and believe that much of this is promulgated by BA. However, this list seems entirely self-serving and can be summarized as one point- you don’t like the fact that others are enjoying great beer because it makes it harder for you to. While you complain about lack of beer culture and beer knowledge, you also lament the fact that more and more people are entering the hobby- and within this group there will undoubtedly be those who seek knowledge and will one day become those knowledgeable old veterans rousing rabble about session ale’s abv. and staying off the lawn- knowledge which can only be gained by learning from today’s current batch of rabble rousing veterans such as yourself.

    • Tony

      My thoughts exactly.

  12. Jaxbeerlover (azorie)

    Nice! and Correct write up, but your late to party I posted the exact same thing years ago on BA. Of course you said it better, and my posts tended to get ignored because well folks just do not like to hear them words. Kind of like ragging on USA beers on BA gets you banned. ;.)

    Personally we stopped going to bars/pubs for some of those reasons. I find home-brewing to be fun, and while its sometimes hit or miss, you get lots of beer allot cheaper than today’s current prices per bottle.

    I am glad I was never a ticker or had to have the newest beer guy.

    I started as a Belgium and English beer nut and I still am. Only with today’s prices I save my pennies for the Fresh stuff in country its just not worth 3 to 6 a bottle for allot of the stuff in Total wine.

    Still like today I found I had to have some Orval, Westmall triple, Duvel, Dupont siason today, and a few rochefort, Duchesse de bourgogne, etc, what can you do? Spend the cash we did….lol

    Not rich enough to jet over to Europe but every 18 to 24 months sadly. But when we go we do enjoy the pubs over there better than even the best watering hole in the USA, I ever been in. and We been to most of the “good” ones. Most do not get good reviews from us.

    wow its comments like this, that can get banned on BA, lol. pardon my suckie English grammer.


  13. Dan

    I completely disagree with you on #10 – I don’t see how anyone benefits from drinking bad beer.

    But other than that, I think you may be onto something here. Except that there’s one thing nagging me; surely there were those into the craft beer “scene” before you were. Did not they have the same thoughts about you at one time?

  14. The Ghost of Edgeworth

    So, how did you spend International IPA Day?

    • Ding

      The same as every day – bitching & moaning about beer in the US!

      • The Ghost of Edgeworth

        Sure, the holiday may have all the meaning, rich heritage, and sacredness of National Green Bell Pepper Day, but maybe you’ll open up to it in coming years. Heck, even Black IPA History month is just right around the corner!

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