28 of 250

I haven’t taken a peek at the highly rated beers for quite some time. So long in fact, that I felt a little out of touch with what the wider world was thinking and drinking.

Part of the reason why I had lost track was that I do my rating on Untappd (when I do tick) and that site is less into whale culture and is more on the wider net.

So it is of interest that Toppling Goliath is so highly thought of with three beers in the top 10. That is crazy. I was glad to see that both Pliny’s from Russian River were on the list and that Heady Topper seemed to be staying afloat despite a wider footprint than in the past. This especially since West 12 has dropped all the way out of the top 25. The other clear winner is Tree House with six hits in twenty-eight. I had expected to see Monkish or Other Half or maybe Jester King but all might have to dispersed of a line-up.

The full list is 250 beers long but I quickly realized that my mode I should not to follow but rather dabble here and there. I bet these beers are great and I do want that Bottle Logic Fundamental Observation (perhaps a sampler tray of the variants), but I do not feel driven to hunt these down.

The Firkin for February 2020

Beer Advocated purchased by Untappd. To be more precise, by Next Glass, the owner of Untappd. And no, they are going to merge their ratings systems. They know better than anger that fan base.

This follows upon the “other” beer rating website (RateBeer) being bought by SABInBev. Quite frankly, I have not used RB’s site since I do not want Big Beer to grab any of my beer data and since the Beer Advocate magazine stopped, I haven’t really dropped by their website either. I have had subscriptions for pretty much every beer magazine down the pike, included Craft Beer & Brewing currently but minus Beer Paper LA and blogs, the writing game is pretty scattered now.

Which means a more than likely, money or time losing situation for a passion project (like this here blog). I can’t fault Beer Advocate for going this route. It will allow them to focus on events or other projects that could not have been done due to the lack of cash or hours in the day.

The question is, what is the future of sites like Beer Advocate and RateBeer. Both have passionate defenders but I feel the initial rush of giddy beer drinkers has passed and the middle ground of fans no longer deep dives into topics like they once did. I certainly do not even add everything I taste onto Untappd, and that really just requires wi-fi and a working finger.

Perhaps, there will come a time when there are different levels of beer rating services catering to passionate niches of people. Who knows what the future will hold.

Beer Advocate – The App

BeerAdvocate is in the stretch run before debuting their new app.   Available as a free download, Beers by BeerAdvocate will have “8 million  reviews of some 400,000 different beers from 18,000 breweries …”.

What can you do with this app?

review beers

add beers

like and unlike beer reviews

access key details like score, style, and alcohol by volume

share pictures of beers

scan barcodes

glassware suggestions

search, sort, and filter brewery beer lists as well as personal beer

in-app browser will enable users to view and surf brewery websites without ever leaving the app

phone calls to any brewery with a listed number

If you join the Beer Advocate Beer Society you can beta test the app at the end of March, before it becomes available to the public.

Merch Table

If you have sweated out or spilled beer on your beer t-shirts, maybe it is time to throw out the old and online order the new.

Here are two shirts that I think are cool…

You can find it HERE

You can go Dodger Blue by hitting this LINK

Festival Review – Beer Advocate’s Extreme Beer Fest

I have been a loyal subscriber to Beer Advocate magazine and have read about their various and sundry events on the other coast and finally (perhaps as a Christmas present) I got to cover the first Los Angeles appearance of the Extreme Beer Fest.

And the locale turned out to be unexpected in a John McClane bursting through plate glass windows via fire hose kind of way with Alan Rickman shooting weaponry behind. Up on the lucky 13th floor of the California Market in DTLA, beers lined the walls…

Beers from East Coast to West were on offer. A list over 250+ long and most extreme in the ABV definition of the word. My three best breweries of Session 1 were de Garde from coastal Oregon, Finback from NYC and The Rare Barrel from the Bay Area. All three were basically walk up and order a beer affairs since the madding crowds had decided (apparently in advance and without input from me) that Great Notion. J. Wakefield and Weldworks were to be the darlings of the ball.

The empty floor turned out to be a great idea. Traversing back and forth was easy with the occasional cutting through snaking lines. Water was available in plentiful amounts as was food (including donuts and the awesome Beer Belly). The program for the event was helpful and the glasses were one of the rare style that I actually didn’t want to leave at the event. A little plastic wine glass minus stem with a divot for your dainty finger to hold.

I tasted 15 beers over a few hours and ran across quite a few that I need to recommend. Polyphonic DIPA from Finback was tied with DeLorean Dust from Alvarado Street for best hoppy offering. Sours was a two way race between de Garde and Rare Barrel with Purple Kriek and The Florist almost equal to Sloe Daze and An Awfully Big Adventure from the latter. But the Iced version of Spittin’ and Cussin’ from Smog City was near those peaks as well. Captain Lawrence, which used to be a darling, seemed ignored for some strange reason because their NE IPA Powder Dreams was excellent as was their brett’d IPA.

This event showcased that Beer Advocate has done this before. The lines were set-up, elevator help had been enlisted and all seemed smooth. There could have been more tables (two-tops) so that people could photograph the beers (hint hint) but the views were amazing….

Throwing Down

For those fans of either the website and message boards or the print magazine of Beer Advocate, you can break away from your keyboard and reading chair and meet some like minded fans.

Beer Advocate has a series of “Throwdowns” starting tonight at Yorkshire Square Brewery. Join Todd Alstrom and talk all things beer. Next Thursday, the throwdown will be in Torrance at Smog City and then Monkish.

Going to Extremes

Since the RateBeer fest will probably be lightly attended this year, the Beer Advocate Extreme Beer Fest® in their first foray to the West Coast and L.A. will probably take the spotlight.

The festival is sponsored by Dogfish Head. Over the course of one day and two sessions on Saturday, December 9th will have 60+ breweries and 200+ beers over at the California Market Center in DTLA.

To get tickets, go HERE.

L.A. (not so) Confidential

The rest of the craft beer country will really know about us now that Henry from Monkish has landed on the cover of the latest Beer Advocate magazine issue.
Let that sink in for a moment. Now let me break out my red pen to see what I agree with and what I don’t…

Right off the bat, the fact that the fabulous Bernie Wire was the lead photographer was perfect even if the article failed to live up to my expectations, I knew that the look would be good.
I was a little concerned by the map though accompanying the piece. No names of breweries, towns or freeways on it. Little less than useful. Maybe another photo there? Or a sidebar about the writer’s favorite beers?

The tone of the piece authored by Sean Lewis is good. L.A. Is a stereotypical city and it is good to start with a confirm and then move on opening set of paragraphs. I also liked the ending which turned the focus to one of the strengths of L.A., the women who power our scene. I am also glad that Eagle Rock and Ladyface got their due though I wish Strand would have gotten a mention too.

Speaking of mentions, I think it should be obligatory that Craftsman and Mark Jilg get mentioned for holding the banner up. But maybe that was cut for space or considered something that has been done too much already. Also a plug for L.A. Beer Week would have been nice.

Overall, not much to quibble with. Lewis is a reliable writer for Beer Advocate who seems a straight shooter without betraying a bias. You could take this article and visit the breweries and bars and get a solid snapshot of what L.A. beer is.

Oh and I am artfully hidden in the Eagle Rock photo on page 58.

A Bermuda Triangle

Downtown Los Angeles or DTLA for those with scant time call it, will be the home of a Torrance sized amount of breweries by 2016. Angel City is the old hand now what with Mumford now open and brewing, Ohana to the South and the much anticipated (at least by me) Arts District Brewing coming soon.

Recently though, the interwebs have taken a shine to knocking another future DTLA brewery down a peg. Iron Triangle and their dubious claims and spelling have garnered the negative attention that only a Trump could love.

Now I avoid Beer Advocate forums like the plague but they are a canary in the coal mine of beer snob opinion. And as such, one should strive to be in their good graces. Sorta akin to being nice to the school bully in the hope of future consideration. If you are the subject of a thread that ultimately gets pulled down, then you should start some damage control.

But the Iron Triangle seems to have also offended Instgram beer geeks as well as The Full Pint blog crew (disclosure – I follow their blog and know them).  Maybe the PR team for IT is the same as the one for Tom Brady and his deflated footballs but they have got to understand that brewing beer is only part of being a winning brewery.

I will repeat what I posted on Facebook: If you don’t do community well or business savvy well then you are going to have to brew the third coming of Pliny the Younger because you will have to surmount ill will to get the beer geeks in the door.  And to steal from the movie business, beer geeks are the teenage male of the four quadrants of moviegoers. You do not want to be the Fantastic Four of breweries

I will freely admit that all of my knowledge, as it were, is secondhand. But like that canary, if I am hearing about it then you know it is in the air. The proof will come served in pint glasses and I hope the beers of Iron Triangle are great and that the owners can learn from their mis-steps but maybe, long term, a failure might be more instructive for a still growing beer culture in Los Angeles.

A Return to the Beer Advocate Forums

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.