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Oakes Weekly - June 23, 2005

Five Years on Ratebeer
Oakes Weekly June 23, 2005      
Written by Oakes

Vancouver, CANADA -

Five years ago this day, I joined Ratebeer. The site was pretty young, and I became Rater #195. Indra, Gusler, Bov and Phillybeer2112 were around back then, and a couple others who’re still here every now and again. Phillybeer actually lived in Philly back then. Edgeworth was king.

I originally came from <a hrefhttp://www.bov.ch/beer/blinks.htm>Bov’s Beer Links page, which I checked every now and again to see who else was rating beer online (note the flattering pic of yours truly). At the time, Bov, Ohhh My Head and myself were the only serious beer raters online. Other sites existed, but weren’t doing much rating at the time, at least not of the type you could take seriously. Although I’ve stopped updating my site and changed ISPs a couple of times since, it’s still online for some reason and you can <a hrefhttp://www.netcom.ca/~jdoakes> check it out.

My first rating was <a hrefhttp://www.ratebeer.com/beer/aass-bock/2131/195/>Aass Bock. Ratebeerians from that era will laugh at that one. Aass Bock was the first rating for a lot of people. Back then, all the beers were listed alphabetically. That lasted about a year or so and the database was getting so fat that searching for your beer took forever and a day. I posted 79 ratings in a week and then disappeared. I returned in mid-September, I guess out of boredom or depression or something as I’d been laid off the day before. Those early ratings, however, were pretty horrible. My list of potential re-rates is very long and lord knows I have trouble keeping track of it when I’m in a store.

I did another heavy week of rating and again disappeared, for two months this time. You see, my temporary job had run out. So really, unemployment played a big role in my early time on Ratebeer. When I was working, I didn’t have the time. Not the least of which was because I already had a beer rating website.

When I got working again at the end of November I had a really boring job where I mostly sat on my ass all day entering ratings. I kept cranking out the ratings from my old notes for the next several months. It was still pretty early, but I wonder if it annoyed anybody.

The site started growing, and a lot of people that are now considered old school came on board in that 2000-01 period. Talk of a summer gathering actually started back then, with tentative plans for billb and myself to visit phillybeer2112 in Philadelphia. Ultimately those plans went nowhere but the seed was planted.

The site got a much needed overhaul in terms of look and feel courtesy of user_experience and the content was getting cleaned up by myself and Ramsdell. Policies and attention had varied in the early years and the site was a bit of a trainwreck. It took a couple of years of research, editing and programming to get it to a lean, mean, beer lovin’ machine that we could build upon.

To this point, I’d only met one Ratebeerian – omhper – and that back before Ratebeer existed. So I got daboskabouter involved in some beer tastings that some guys from <a hrefhttp://www.bartowel.com>Bartowel were holding. He more or less retired from the beer geek life a couple years ago. Later in 2002 I decided to revive the summer party idea, and this led to the first Ratebeer Summer Gathering, held in Toronto. We actually had people like Argo0 & Kathy and Volgon fly in. How cool was that? And they drove up from Michigan, and down from Montreal. I mean, there were thirteen Ratebeerians there! That was monumental stuff, let me tell you.

After that, things went nuts. The growth of the site went through the roof. I was the editor, the head cheese of beer stuff, and I was writing a weekly column in a business when anything over ten articles a year is considered prolific. The site grew rapidly and by the time the next year rolled around our Summer Gathering was big business and people came from all over. Secondary gatherings were picking up steam as well but it was still a time when getting a dozen Ratebeerians in the same room was newsworthy. Now it’s another Saturday somewhere.

To this mix was added some other cool stuff – taking the Summer Gathering overseas, getting a homebrew competition started. A little trivia about that – the first Ratebeer Homebrew Competition wasn’t in January 2004 but was actually at the Toronto Summer Gathering back in 2002. Linc won with his <a hrefhttp://www.ratebeer.com/Recipe.asp?RecipeID=36>Foreign Stout.

So yeah, it’s been five years here. That rocks. The site has come so far and my role in this has grown accordingly. But there’s still a lot of good beer out there. Lots of great bars, too. The progress of the past five years has been amazing, but will pale in comparison to the progress of the next five years.



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