What Will Happen to Beer Twitter?

It has been a few weeks since the change at the top at Twitter, so I thought I would add my two-cents. I have been happily off Twitter for a good 4+ years. There wasn’t really a single incident that made that decision easy, rather an eventual understanding that the platform was a net negative to learning and having fun with craft beer.

Fast forward to the MuskTwitter where you can’t make fun of the Musk but you can buy a verification from him. But only if you are hardcore. Who knows if Mastodon will run with this chance or some other non-Musked app will take to the fore but boy does the immature part of me want to go all, I told you so.

The push/pull of free speech but heavily monitored because we can’t trust Americans with nice things is never gonna be easy. There will always be people stepping over a line or snowflake conservatives setting up lines only for themselves. No social media will be perfect.

But can a lively, opinionated Beer Twitter (or equivalent) exist? Can it better than an unruly comments section? I have my doubts but I can quickly see what proponents of Twitter say about it and I do not harshly disagree, I just have a darker tint of rose colored glasses.

What I can predict with more certainty is that breweries with limited ad money and limited time are going to look for something safer, something steadier. Most business owners would probably say that, chaos doesn’t sell. More people will lean on the ‘Gram and Facebook and wait until a new app gains critical user mass rather than be associated with that Musky smell.


If I ran the responses to social media for a Los Angeles brewery right now, I would just type, “We Know.”

Granted, I am beyond happy that they can open again but LA seems intent on making the experience of visiting a taproom onerous. In addition to the bizarro everyone must order food mandate (whether you eat it or not), now you have to make a reservation in advance, you have only a window of time to sit and no more than six people in a group.

I am quite fine with the last one actually since I am an introvert but there is obviously a Prohibitionist streak tucked into this rule set. If you drink, you will get drunk and do something stupid. Alcohol bad. So, we will force you to eat, cut down on available time to drink, all in an effort to basically dissuade you from going in the first place.

Imagine a scenario where a brewery has empty tables and a resident of the community sees people drinking and says to themselves, a beer would be nice but because they are only a casual beer fan may not know all the hoops to jump through. That person gets turned away because they didn’t set a play date 24 hours in advance? Even though they may be perfectly responsible and safety conscious?

And don’t tell me it is about making sure a person doesn’t leave the house sick. That is all timing and an advanced RSVP doesn’t preclude a sick person from unwittingly passing a virus. No, it is just a hoop that the brewery owner has to police and become the bad guy for because what angry customer is going to go to the Mayor and complain to him.

I would have all my staff wearing sandwich boards saying, We Know the rules are crappy.

Aftermath – Part 11

Thanks to the always orange and angry one, masks are now somehow equated as an attack on freedoms by some even though it is simply a Don’t Share Your Air health issue. And since the jolly old USA didn’t start wearing masks soon enough or often enough we are stuck in a cycle of high infection rates.

Does that excuse a business owner from going on social media and venting his frustration? Part of me says no because social media is not the place to go to for courteous discourse and adding to the anger isn’t going to solve anything. But since seeing people on ventilators and seeing graphs going upward doesn’t seem to affect these “anti-maskers”, maybe the jolt of being told to fuck off will.

When I look at it from both sides, my final conclusion is that you post happy and scream internally. My post would have read: Due to soaring Covid19 cases and a non-soaring mask wearing rate, we will not be open. When mask wearing becomes a task done for the good of the people around you, cases will drop and we can open. Join with us in making or Courtyard community safe and healthy.

Then let people like me bark at people for having not been in line for brains.

The Firkin for October 2019

The comedian Michael Che was on a talk show this month and he made the remark that “Twitter is like, if everybody you hated had your phone number.”

Now I didn’t get hatred directed at me. Not being confrontational and not being on Twitter a heckuva lot saved me from that fate, but even so, I ran across all levels of anger and I mostly just followed breweries and beer people. Why did my “feed” contain all this anger and outrage? It wasn’t like I was following anything deeply divided along fault lines.

So I have stepped back from Twitter. Haven’t visited for months and only post beers being consumed via Untappd. I figure that ticking isn’t adding any negativity to the platform.

Now this isn’t some, my life is so much better for leaving social media, post. I still check Facebook and Instagram on a daily basis. But I don’t close the tab or app feeling scuzzy or like a looky-loo scoping out a highway accident the way that I do when done with Twitter. And to be honest, I do not know why Twitter has become so cringe inducing to me. Perhaps I am still de-unsensitized to it. Maybe if I patrolled other sites like Reddit where even more vitriol is apparently seen then I wouldn’t feel this way about Twitter.

Part of what really pushed me out the Twitter door was how outrage was being cheapened on a daily basis and how a savvy social media manager would be better served to not engage and let one of these mini-controversies (real or imagined) pass from view and be replaced by the next. No actual debate was happening just a bit of shouting until someone else shouted louder.

Leaving has not left a Twitter sized hole in my life, and may even make me happier at the end of the day since I don’t hear about the weird and the rude side of the beer world. And perhaps I will dip my toe back into the conflict filled waters one day.

New Model – Jokes

It seems that at least once a month, an amateur “funny” person puts up a hilarious post on Social Media. Then when the rest of the world sees it, they are “shocked” that what they found side-splitting is not.

Yes, people are way too thin skinned these days. But many are rightfully so after decades and centuries of having “jokes” aimed directly at them. So you can either whine about people not being filled with good humor or you can adjust what you put out into the world.

And I do not want to hear your excuse of “I ran it by my wife, friend, employees.” I don’t mean that you need to test market every last little post but how about running your “comedy chunk” by someone or someones who you see posting the popcorn emoji on screenshots of your posts.

I could quickly give you the names of multiple people that would advise on your “stand-up” routine and give a thumbs up or down on it. Hell, maybe I should start a PR Pre-check service for breweries. I could advise you on how a certain beer name is way too sexist or problematic to others. So, here is the new way forward. E-mail me at beersearchparty@gmail.com with your beer name, a copy of your draft Facebook post, your list of funny #—-. I will do the legwork and get back to you. You can pay me in beer or bills because either way I will save you time and regret.

And this is coming from a seriously white and middle-aged dude. All I need is a beard (can’t grow one) to be in the craft beer supermajority that currently exists.

Now I am not the Fun Police, cracking down on any form of laughs but you can be funny and not be an -ist of some sort.

P.T. Barnum

I ran across an interesting post about “influencers” that is longer than the usual but you should really READ it.

Why is it important to me? Well, peddling influence is seemingly in the news every day from politics to, well, more politics. Or for a flaming example, the Fyre Festival debacle.

And if it has shown up in food, you can rest assured that it will rear it’s ugly head in beer, wine and spirits too.

What that means for the passionate beer fans is to create a true world wide web of beer sources. I zoom around multiple blogs, tweets, photos as well as information from PR folk, newspapers and magazines. I put all that information in my brain and then spit out what I think. And I am not afraid to chuck a pet theory if the overwhelming data contradicts it, I just pivot and turn. That is how Science works too!

I don’t rely on just one source of news and neither should you because there is a raging river of content out there and some of it is bought and paid for, or as the London Eater piece puts it, “We shouldn’t marvel that influencer content is utterly lacking in nuance, that it appears totally blind to even the concept of imperfection. This is a paid-for performance marketing channel; far from a charming cottage industry of like-minded Best Food Friends, it’s cold-bloodedly capitalist.”

Be careful to not put too much stock in a pretty photo or an op-ed that is really advertorial.

BSP Advice Column – Sunset Strip Brewery

As far as interwebs hoaxes go, this was well done. But for the sake of future brewers who feel entitled my original (April Fool’d) post still stands. So in honor of a good joke, here is what I would have written if Sunset Strip Brewing were real……

I don’t think I could survive long giving out advice. Oh, I have opinions and ideas and sarcasm but those qualities are not usually top of the list for future Dear Abby’s. But when I saw this pop up on my social media feed….

After thinking to myself, “Who is Sunset Strip Brewery?” and then doing a cursory Google search which turned up more hits for the fantastic Sunset Beer Co. bottle shop, I began to think of scenarios that would lead to this Tweet. (I ran into the same issue when I first heard about them months back.

Drunken?  Nope.  Posted at 10am with correctly spelled @ call signs with capitalization too.

Frustration? Maybe, but no one reached out to me and I doubt that any or all of the organizations listed would have refused to run something.

Internal Strife? Seemed most likely since the biggest stressor in L.A. is the getting your brewery open process but without information I let the issue drop and planned to wait to try beer if it ever came to be.

Well, first the Tweet was denied and labeled a hack, then this happened….
…and the BSP Advice columnist in me jumped up.

There is so much wrong in that “non”-apology. But let’s first write the correct response:
Hello, my name is Mark and I want to apologize for a member of the Sunset Strip Brewery team who made ill-advised remarks on social media.  The remark has been taken down and we are dismayed that it even saw the light of day. It is not how we want to present ourselves to the fans of craft beer in L.A.

We hope, in the coming months, to spread the word about our brewery and our ambitious plans in  a positive way and even more we hope to share our beer with the City of Los Angeles sooner rather than later.

If you want to talk to us then please contact us at the e-mail address below.

Literally, except for the first sentence, every other paragraph in “their apology” had something horribly wrong in it.  (Not to mention some spelling gaffes).  Just as an FYI to future brewers out there, what NOT to do:

paragraph two – “those of you who that said things you regret will take responsibility for it” / An apology does not ask for an apology back.

paragraph three – “We have a combined 50 years plus brewing experience.” / An apology should not be cribbed from your About page of your website.

paragraph four – “We’re currently in talk(s) with producers about television opportunities” / An apology should be brief and not about plans unrelated to the actual beer.

paragraph five – All of it. / An apology does not reinforce whatever was said that made an apology necessary.

paragraph six – “reasonably priced t-shirts” / An apology should have some remorse.  Not vague swag promises.

paragraph seven – “abuse and cyber bullying we received” / An apology does not include mitigating factors.

I will try the beer but, frankly, it would have to be really damn good for me to write about it.  Right now LA has such good beer flowing that I do not have time to visit the people and places I enjoy, let alone drink beer from people who don’t understand how to communicate a simple apology. And this episode speaks to how disorganized this group is and leads me to think that they probably won’t even make it to the brewing stage at all.

Speak Freely

Our Governor Jerry Brown recently signed a much less controversial law than Death with Dignity when he approved an Assembly Bill (#780) that will permit craft breweries in California to speak freely about their product availability to their fan base via social media, including where to buy these beers at local bottle shops, beer bars and restaurants.

Before, you had to be very careful and only respond to inquiries posed TO YOU. Breweries gun shy about getting over-regulated if they broke the law, tread gingerly around Facebook and the like.

Now, a weird restriction is now gone. Making it easier for us in the buying community.

Modest Proposals

I have a couple proposals for beer fans who want to push the envelope a bit when it comes to craft beer and the interwebs…..

1. Start a Tumblr blog for anonymous craft beer truth-telling. Because I am tired of seeing vague remarks on social media about how beer bar A has unclean tap lines but no name is attached or brewery B has horrible beer but the writer won’t divulge the name for fear or over politeness.

Maybe a blog which allows anonymous commenters (but moderated comments) can serve the purpose to warn craft beer customers of what is going on. I envision a series of posts with headlines such as: Dirty Brewery Sales Tactics, Breweries with beer quality issues, Bars to avoid that then can be evaluated much like political ads are graded on scales of lie or truth.

2. Despite the fact I am more a fan of Jimmy Fallon making fun of #hashtags than using actual hashtags maybe whenever a brewery is approached by the ABInBev they can Tweet #BudReachAround. That way we can figure out the pattern to the Bud acquisition plans.

The Firkin for May 2015


Two emojis and ten words. That is all it took for an employee who was the Digital Communications Manager for the NBA’s Houston Rockets to get fired.

That tweet which if uttered, minus the emojis, on a court by a player may have garnered a technical foul or a dinky fine. The joke was of the sore winner variety.  A heat of the moment stupid little thing that the interwebs throw around like superheroes toss super villains through buildings.

It is also basically what is chronicled via different examples in the new Jon Ronson book, “So you have Been Publicly Shamed”.  Which should be required reading for anyone with a Twitter account or friends of the non-computer variety. The take-away: Employees + poor communication of a brand is a bad mixture. And it is happening in craft beer now too.

Example #1

Despite it being baseball and boring, Padre fans got into a dust up on Instagram this month when Saint Archer Brewing thanked the Dodgers for being a big supporter (buyer) of the brewery. The passive-aggressive dig being that their hometown teams aren’t buying for their stadiums.

Was Saint Archer rightly upset about not on offer at Qualcomm and Petco? Probably.  Did they communicate that anger it in a way that exemplifies the brand. Not even close. All they did was alienate consumers on the fence and give haters a chance to hate.

You have to be crystal clear in your writing. Tone and humor get lost without any context to place them in. And I strongly suggest making each post as simple as possible and directed at a target audience. For Saint Archer it could go like this: Instagram that your beer is available at Dodger Stadium. Then a tweet aimed at Padre fans with the dates when they play in LA and can buy their beer. Then a third post with a link to where you can drink their beer in San Diego before or after the game since you can’t get it inside the ballpark.

It may be super neutral but it gets your point across unless your goal is to rattle the cage. Which is certainly a way to go but one fraught with paying someone to defuse any situations that get out of hand.

Example #2

Then Stone Brewing, who usually walk the line of cheeky as well as anyone joined the passive-aggressive rock throwing with a press release and label diatribe against those who copy and paste and Tweet about their beers. (Obviously shortened from the long-winded Stone PR version. 
They added this gem to the end of their press release about Bourbon Barrel Aged Arrogant Bastard: “Notice how this release does not do your work for you. I understand you are overworked and underpaid, but you will have to write this one up yourself. It’s called “journalism,” not “copy and paste-ism.” For better or worse, I trust in you. I truly hope you share that trust in yourself.”

I don’t know how re-running a press release is a crime.  I thought that was why press releases were sent out. Personally, I always skipped down to the tasting notes and what Mitch Steele has to say about the beer and what food it pairs with because it was helpful information. Then, maybe, skimmed the superfluous word-ery on top. It makes one wonder if this is an official Stone position or the opinion of one person in marketing who doesn’t like blogs that run press releases. 

In both instances, being passive-aggressive doesn’t work. It hardly works in real conversation between actual people.  Let alone on the web. Stone should have gritted their teeth and sent out the usual release for one simple reason.  The beer should have done the talking not a PR person. 

No matter the form of communication, whoever is in charge of getting information out to people need to be aware that their words and attitude will soon reverberate in the echo chamber of the interwebs. 

Mis-steps happen on social media and they will continue to happen as long as people see it as fun and not at all harmful. Either hire a professional firm and educate them on your beer and brewery or hire your own person who isn’t allowed to hit send on anything unless someone else looks at it.  Like a check that needs two signatures to be valid. 

That former Rocket?  He later spoke about how the tweet was responded to was not what he wanted but he owned up about how he alone was responsible for how it was received. He then said the magic words, don’t underestimate the power and reach of social media.