Beer Blog Hooey

Reads 9046 • Replies 71 • Started Tuesday, July 29, 2008 8:34:24 PM CT

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joet
admin
beers 2867 º places 125 º 15:00 Wed 7/30/2008

Originally posted by NobleSquirrel
Something that I’ve always personally felt strongly about is the fact that, when I look at something, I understand that it is someone else’s opinion, not mine. It doesn’t have to agree with me, it doesn’t have to be correct. To me, when I take my opinion v. Ratebeer, I’m going to be apt to defer to ratebeer based on the whole law of averages bit. If thousands of people think one thing, but you disagree, you’re entitled to that. I personally am going to give the one that is vouched for by thousands more of a chance, and a higher likelihood, that I’ll like it. Eh, people just really like to spit venom from their soapbox...


Yeah, this is sort of like Roger Ebert complaining about what won Best Picture (and somehow distorting that award as being the best picture of all time). In all likelihood, Ebert or other film critic who is a member of the academy, is going to have a very strong opinion contrary to one or another award selection. That’s to be expected.

What you don’t expect is for Ebert to stand up, and from a fantastically arrogant position, decry the academy because it collectively had a different opinion.

 
Tim Webb
beers 502 º places 614 º 18:32 Wed 7/30/2008

Hi guys.

I think I just shot two sacred cows with the same bullet.

Ok, I’ve only tried about, I’m guessing, 20 bottles of beer from Struise Brouwers over the years - the dull ones and the bad ones as well as the whizzy ones - so the barbs about not knowing much about them are pretty fair. In comparison to my exposure to other Belgian beers it is low. I have compiled the national beer guide to Belgium for 16 years and I sort of know the territory.

Just to get what I am saying correct, rather than re-positioned to somewhere that is easier to attack, these guys are interesting, they are producing some ballsy beers in styles that deserve attention. I really hope they reach their potential. If they are still doing it in in a few years’ time, and I hope they are, and have overcome the remaining glitches and have started using great technique in an experienced way, then they will become big heroes of mine.

But they have a way to go, and so does anyone who puts them on a pinnacle above the great brewers of the world.

Not having a brewery if you are the best brewer in the world is rather a difficult one to defend. It tends at very least to mean that either you or your banker has yet to be persuaded you have both the talent and commitment necessary to be one of the world’s great brewers.

If I am a restaurateur, I need a kitchen. I could borrow someone else’s but it makes it less easy. (’Around London in 80 Beers’, which comes out tomorrow, features a pub that will get a meal of your choice to the table in 30 minutes but doesn’t make any of your food itself. It works, but it won’t win a Michelin star.)

You lot at ratebeer do have to start taking your power more seriously than you do at present. You have the naievete of a bunch of adolescents and you are worth far more than that.

Like it or not you set yourselves up as judges and you adjudicate. This one is best.

The negative impact of your collective hug-in round Westvleteren led to coverage you could not have predicted. You were innocent at the time. You were not to know that anyone would take you seriously.

In reality it led to queues of traffic forming up to 3km long in the countryside around the abbey. Belgian TV showed fights between motorists, vying to get hold of der-bess-beer-inda-world, a shut down of availability of Westvleteren beers and no favours at all to the beer quality. Deny it at will, it’s more comfortable that way. But hey, it happened.

Second time around not knowing the consequences is less defensible.

Ratebeer does a huge amount to help beer get taken seriously. You are important. So when your quirky scoring systems come up with a stoopid conclusion, you need to think about it and look at how to make them better, not celebrate their imperfections.

The ’quality of the current product’ is just that. It is the quality of the beer in the glass in front of you as it appeals to you now. It is determined by its flavours and character, but also by your mood and the invisible aura around it and by what you want it to be. It’s a bit of technical with big chunks of emotion latched on.

It says nothing of how that same beer will be in a couple of months, of how the same brand will be six months down the line, of how that brewery will create a stable of reliably excellent brands that grow their repuation. Or how that brewery makes its decisons about new kit, new processes, changes to ingredients, using better shippers and fighting off infections.

It says nothing of how great a brewery they are or how they compare with those who have crafted excellence through years of thoughtful development. The statement that this is a greater brewery than (I could name several dozen) does not stand up. Simple as that.

Tim Webb

 
Cletus
beers 6351 º places 233 º 20:06 Wed 7/30/2008

You write a reply using words like stoopid and then you accuse this community of behaving like adolescents You sound like an angry kid.

Also, your restaurant analogy makes no sense. If you are a restauranteur, you need a restaurant. If you are a cook you need a kitchen to cook in but you can be the best cook in the world and not own a restaurant.

 
OldStyleCubFan
beers 77 º places 15 º 20:20 Wed 7/30/2008

Originally posted by Tim Webb
So when your quirky scoring systems come up with a stoopid conclusion, you need to think about it and look at how to make them better, not celebrate their imperfections.


WOW! That’s a pretty strong statement from someone that publishes his own beer and brewery rating system.

I’m curious about your scoring systems. When you score beers and pubs in your books is it based on the beer & brewery that is infront of you or are your scores based on a guess as to how the beer will be in a couple of months, or how the same brand will be six months down, or how that brewery/pub will create a stable of reliably excellent brands that grow their repuation?

 
3fourths
beers 9493 º places 1577 º 20:32 Wed 7/30/2008

Big props to you Tim for joining the discussion over here. Still don’t necessarily agree with you, but it’s nice to see you bring your criticism to the source. Ratebeer is a lot of things to a lot of people, and in case you haven’t seen it, there’s a steady stream of constructive in-fighting among members as to what our purpose is, collectively. Trust me, people here do take rating beer seriously, as demonstrated by the many heated discussions of what is new/hyped/overrated/underrated, among many others. It’s good to have another experienced voice join the mess, for sure, but I think that you view Ratebeer differently than most of us. The site serves as an independent, collective voice in the world of beer, and even with the acknowledged problems of hype, newness, and influence that this creates, I think we do as good a job as anyone of finding the hidden gems and recognizing the innovators, while still respecting the classic names and classic styles.

 
duff
beers 5484 º places 40 º 20:39 Wed 7/30/2008

perhaps your just a wee bit jealous that people are paying attention to our opinions on beer here, but you’ll never admit to this.

I think the impact ratebeer had on Westvleteren and now Struise is positive. If people want to queue for hours to get the beer let them do it, we can hardly be blamed for the douche bags fighting in the queues. Yes the article got a lot of press in Belgium, but how is it our fault how peope behave???? (they even had the article framed at the Cafe at Westvleteren- so i don’t think they think its a bad thing at all down there).

On the subject of Struise, you really can’t accept the fact that people actually liked it and rated it highly??? This seems odd to me.

There is no conspiracy to get Struise beers to the top of the ratebeer best of lists, it just worked out this way, and as it happened it scored the highest overall for 2008. I think you have to accept this.

Its a hobby for the vast majority us here, and i think you are reading to much in to it and over representing how much "responsibility" we have here. Any half wit with even a quarter of a brain would realise that this site if made up of amateur beer enthusiasts. A beer writer such as yourself should surely know this. Seriously, take a second look at your response on that blog and your response here.

 
Ofortuna
beers 322 º places 12 º 20:51 Wed 7/30/2008

Tim,

It is the elitism in both your reply and previous writings that illustrate your true ignorance.

 
Degarth
21:37 Wed 7/30/2008

"Not having a brewery if you are the best brewer in the world is rather a difficult one to defend. It tends at very least to mean that either you or your banker has yet to be persuaded you have both the talent and commitment necessary to be one of the world’s great brewers."

I probably shouldn’t respond, but this just struck me so wrong. You remind me of that food critic in Ratatouille the second before he took the monumental bite that changed his perceptions. I guess like Anton Ego you just can’t believe "anyone" can be a great brewer. Only brewery owners can be the best brewers, apparently. The fact is your opinion is tosh. Owning a brewery has jack-all-squat to do with brewing. I own a brewery and I wish I could brew half as well as some people I know that don’t own breweries and don’t ever plan on owning them.

Best brewer simply reflects the beer being made, regardless of wether the brewer has even tried to buy some nuts and bolts. It doesn’t matter what transpired to keep the brewer from owning some land, a building and a bunch of stainless or copper. The beer is the only thing that matters. If you want to say the beer doesn’t deserve the kudos, freaking say that. Stop with the dissembling about them not owning a brewery.

If the greatest mathematician in the world never bothered to pursue academic tenor or gainful employment would it make him not the best mathematician in the world? No. I’m not saying Struisse is the best brewery in the world ever, or even in 2008. I don’t think they are. New Glarus is CLEARLY the best brewery this year and for all years to come. But if New Glarus didn’t have their own brewery it wouldn’t matter. Their beers would still be the best.

Please forgive me for having an opinion and being willing to state it rather than dissemble about stuff that has no relevance. We both probably should have kept our mouths shut, but like you I couldn’t either.

 
Block
beers 3330 º places 31 º 21:54 Wed 7/30/2008

It says nothing of how great a brewery they are or how they compare with those who have crafted excellence through years of thoughtful development. The statement that this is a greater brewery than (I could name several dozen) does not stand up. Simple as that.


And that is why it is an award that is up for grabs each year. You can use this same argument for anything awarded on an annual basis, because that’s what the award is supposed to point out. Excellence for that year. It seems like you’re getting hung on on the "greatest" and not looking at the "2008".

What are some of your "several dozen" greater brewerys. I’m sure we could scrutinize your selection just as well.

 
joet
admin
beers 2867 º places 125 º 22:06 Wed 7/30/2008

Originally posted by Tim Webb
Hi guys.

I think I just shot two sacred cows with the same bullet.

...


Tim Webb


Tim,

Just so I understand you clearly here, what is the problem you’ve seen in drawing attention to Westvleteren? And how does this create similar problems related to Struise?

You seem to be very dubious of Struise and I think that’s fine. I’m just surprised you’re so entrenched, seemingly philosophically.

We’ve seen the phenomenon of small brewers emerging with national or world class beers here in America for some time. We’ve seen some come and go and many fight it out to remain a top brewer in a market that is highly sensitive to changing and increasing consumer demands. Even the best have to play this game. These brewers can’t afford to rest on their laurels when their reputation is more tied to what’s in the bottle than what brewing school they’ve attended or where they’ve apprenticed.

You’ve focused on a different kind of market and are new to and surprised by this kind of emergence. We aren’t. We’ve seen it many, many times in the craft beer market, first here in America and now increasingly abroad.

The new craft beer market is fueled by innovation and passion that typically don’t go over well in established, conventional markets. In England you (unwittingly?) helped give rise to some of the world’s most restrictive brewing practices years ago that still stifle English brewing invention and hinder appreciation of foreign beer today.

You even tried to export your brewing rules abroad with your assault on Chimay. (A most highly regarded Belgian brewer here in America confides he does whatever he needs to for the beer -- dextrins, spices, extracts...) There again you wildly missed the mark. You attacked ingredients with an oppressive Reinheitsgeboty blanket of restrictions with no ultimate attention to final flavor. Your philosophy seems to say, "Let’s not let you, the consumer, decide based on your tastebuds! Let me, the expert, make elitist rules to protect you!" If extracts or other additives might be developed in a way to preserve or improve aroma and flavor, never mind, there’s still no place for them. We have a rule against that. Thanks for playing.

Epic failure.

And the lack of acceptance of those rules in the world craft beer market is proof.

So it’s no wonder you’ve glibly written off craft beer sites and the emerging brewers we appreciate as "Yankee tosh" (even though most of our top beer tasters are not even American). You’re what we’re moving on from. We think our craft beer movement’s policies of increased freedom, equality and democracy are favorable to and ultimately more successful than your English top-down, let me the expert decide, tyranny. And dare I say, I think we’re onto something.