When I first jumped into the craft beer pool, so to speak, I would go on the Beer Advocate website a few times a week to satiate my need for information and stimuli. Soon after I subscribed to the offline magazine as well.
What was at first illuminating became slowly, less interesting and more repetitive especially where the forums were concerned. It became a what IPA (insert style of your choice here) are you drinking call and response. Something that when Untappd came on the scene became less relevant due to real time data reloading every time a friend checked into a beer.
There was just so much stuff to wade through that did not pique my interest. And though the style guides and brewery information is still extremely helpful and I consult those sections of the site to this day, the need to check into the site on a regular basis stopped.
Lately though, I have been wondering about the wealth of information in the beer interwebs and how to navigate it and find the useful amidst the sea of ones and zeros. So I returned to Beer Advocate (the website) in 2014 to see if it has changed or not. Or if I have changed. Is there helpful advice to be found?
And I found an amazing lack of attitude. Yeah, there was sarcasm (which always plays well on the interwebs, see what I did there?) and there were the usual topics like “What are the top 5 breweries in Pennsylvania?” and the large amount of IPA posts but I was pleasantly surprised that it was less offensive than I remembered. Maybe, I have mellowed or the people who post have mellowed but it seemed much more in line with the type of back and forth you might have with a group of friends who didn’t really know each other and were sorta grasping for topics. Not a bad night out but certainly not the depth of a debate on beer you would have with close friends and craft beer fans.
But the topics seemed all re-hash to the point where many questions start with “Sorry, if this has been asked” or a comment about it not being the first time the question was asked but give the newbie a break. One typical post is Best By versus Bottled On. Yes, it is an important question but asking a bunch of beer geeks that will yield a 50/50 split and opinion and that’s about it. A better guide would be asking 5 brewers or QC managers at well established breweries for their answer. That would yield knowledge you can use. This type of post could be done in an online poll just as easily. I guess my innate dislike of random opinions from random people not being helpful to me is still very much intact. Iwould rather talk to someone that I know is an actual human.
And I don’t think that those new to craft beer are well served either. Except if you are canvassing opinions to help you form your own., you would be better served to ask someone at a bar or beer shoppe questions. Or get in touch with a local beer blogger to find out about the area. I would like to see a variety of questions and maybe more ask a columnist from the magazine question and answer. Maybe seed some bigger discussions with comments from brewers and publicans.
So BA is improved in tone but the forum content is not adding to my, personal, beer growth.