I recently was flipping through a random beer magazine while sitting in a bar and found that they had done a review of Tampa beer establishments, effectively leaving out some of the best places in the Tampa Bay area to get a pint. Upon checking the website attached to this magazine I saw there was already a post about this which made me happy although with a print periodical once the magazine is already out the damage has been done.
This organization which has a history of being a very reputable place to learn about beer and beer culture for some seems to in the last few years become more of an outlet for the two brothers who run it to voice their own opinions instead of the unbiased promotion of the beer culture in America and abroad it once was. While I have always been more of an independent student of all things fermentation related (yes, even bread and wine too!) I did once have a respect for this site that has slowly waned as the quality of both the magazine and website slipped. Looking back at issues I have kept from the past it is evident that somewhere along the line what they had preached about better beer went out the window to make a living which I would not fault them for except that most people would not sell out their beliefs to make a buck. Funny, I see ads in these magazines from the large breweries they at one time ostracised for their sub par beers, brewing techniques, and methods to exude power over the smaller independent breweries that they claim to be such large supporters of. Hypocrisy? Again probably not, just trying to pay bills but how is that any different that those same large breweries that spend more on their advertising than actually making their beers? Furthermore is this really a place people who are interested in learning about beer should come for information? Not in my opinion. You would be better off buying a mixed 6 pack and looking up every brewery's website, a much better way to learn about the products and as far as opinions go.. Use your brain and create your own! Want to share it? Step away from the computer and go out to one of your local better beer establishments and talk to the people sitting on the stools next to you. I guarantee this will be 100% more fufilling than inputing them into a computer, and you might learn something you did not even expect to!
When I started drinking and cataloging the beer I was experiencing there was no website that existed for rating beer or beer establishments it was all done with my trusty notebook and believe me, I have some notes that are easier to read than others depending on the amount of beer that was consumed in the night. Those I did not feel I accurately experienced I revisited, but it was all for my knowledge and advancement for something I truely have a passion for and not a quest for the maximum number of beers I could experience or ratings I could write.
These days as with any other quest men seem to be on, he who dies with the most toys (or in this case, beer ratings) wins according to this and one or two other related websites. Does that sound right to you? If it does, then by all means don't let my opinion sway you just don't expect me to want to hear you theorize beer culture as you follow the rest of the lemmings to the next big beer release from a brewery that has released wonderful beers for years but only gains attention for one product that everyone on their computers decides is now going to be sought after. I'll form my own thoughts and opinions thanks and if I "miss" out on it there is probably a reason. This lemming has turned away from the cliff.
Perhaps you agree, perhaps you don't.. Some people like to be told what to like, some don't and I am one of the latter.