I’m a chameleon, a shape-shifter. Well at least I am on the Internet. When someone wants to know a nugget of personal information about me, I’m always changing form. Why give up usable data about myself when I don’t have to?
Country of Residence? Moldova.
Phone Number? It starts with 555…
Sexual Preference? Metrosexual.
This is especially true when it comes to age gates on beer sites, to which I gleefully submit anything but my real date of birth.
Age gates are meant to be the child-proof medicine caps of the online world, but any 10 year-old who can subtract 21 from 2014 (or who simply knows that being born in 1971 makes you very, very old) can defeat them.
Not only are age gates useless, they are annoying as hell. The last thing we want in this day of point-click-and-get is some unnecessary lawyer-spam standing between us and our content. And it’s not like these flimsy protections are legally required – the alcohol industry is left to “self regulation” in this regard by the Federal Trade Commission.
There are three kinds of age gates. The worst kind requires you to enter a day, month and year of birth (looking at you, Dogfish Head and Sierra Nevada). I always type in random numbers or select wildly from the drop down menus that some sites have, and I get a particular thrill from indicating I was born in 1903. That’s right, I’m 111 years young – now show me that goddamn IPA!
A newer wrinkle is the single click age gate. While these are more tolerable, they still add a step while remaining absolutely worthless. Brewers like San Diego’s Modern Times might make this extra little hurdle look attractive, but this approach still has a whiff of greasy lawyer emanating from it, something that the craft beer world really doesn’t need.
The best kind of age gate is like the one used by Surly Brewing – there isn’t one. You simply go to their website and are allowed to access content without having to jump through any hoops. I guess brewers like Surly, Oskar Blues, The Alchemist and many others have finally figured out that if YouPorn doesn’t have an age gate (or so I’m told), why should pictures of beautiful beer be restricted?
A little clicking around the web makes me think that age gates are largely becoming a thing of the past. Most smaller breweries with newer sites seem to have abandoned them all together. It’s mostly the big craft brewers or those with antiquated sites (or both) that are still requiring you to enter your Social Security number and submit a urine sample before proceeding into the shocking world of online beer brochures.
Hopefully age gates will soon become a thing of the past, something that was once quite annoying but is now fondly remembered as being a quaint part of our history, like the dial-up modem or Charo. Coochie-Coochie!