A Storm Is a Brewin’…

Some of you may have heard about the Shitstorm that is happening today at Beer Advocate.  Someone panned Dogfish Head saying they were overrated and asked what breweries were overrated.  The negativity that ensued is Epic!  Here is the thread.  I personally liked what Sam Calgione had to say:

It’s pretty depressing to frequently visit this site and see the most negative threads among the most popular. This didn’t happen much ten years ago when craft beer had something like a 3 percent market share. Flash forward to today, and true indie craft beer now has a still-tiny but growing marketshare of just over 5 percent. Yet so many folks that post here still spend their time knocking down breweries that dare to grow. It’s like that old joke: “Nobody eats at that restaurant anymore, it’s too crowded.” Except the “restaurants” that people shit on here aren’t exactly juggernauts.

In fact, aside from Boston Beer, none of them have anything even close to half of one percent marketshare. The more that retailers, distributors, and large industrial brewers consolidate the more fragile the current growth momentum of the craft segment becomes. The more often the Beer Advocate community becomes a soap box for outing breweries for daring to grow beyond its insider ranks the more it will be marginalized in the movement to support, promote, and protect independent ,American, craft breweries.
It’s interesting how many posts that refer to Dogfish being over-rated include a caveat like “except for Palo…except for Immort…etc.” We all have different palettes which is why it’s a great thing that there are so many different beers. At Dogfish we’ve been focused on making “weird” beers since we opened and have taken our lumps for being stylistically indifferent since day one. I bet a lot of folks agree that beers like Punkin Ale (since 1995) , Immort Ale (wood aged smoked beer) since 1995, Chicory Stout (coffee stout) since 1995 , Raison D’être (Belgian brown) since 1996, , Indian Brown Ale (dark IPA) since 1997, and 90 Minute (DIPA) since 2000 don’t seem very weird anymore. That’s in large part because so many people who have been part of this community over the years championed them and helped us put them on the map.These beers, and all of our more recent releases like Palo Santo, Burton Baton, Bitches Brew continue to grow every year. We could have taken the easy way out and just sold the bejeezus out of 60 Minute to grow but we like to experiment and create and follow our own muse. Obviously there is an audience that appreciates this as we continue to grow.

We put no more “hype” or “expert marketing” behind our best selling beers than we do our occasionals. We only advertise in a few beer magazines and my wife Mariah oversees all of our twitter/Facebook/dogfish.com stuff. We have mostly grown by just sharing our beer with people who are into it (at our pub, great beer bars, beer dinners, and fests) and let them decide for themselves if they like it. If they do we hope they tell their friends about.

We hope a bunch of you that are going to EBF will stop by our booth and try some of the very unique new beers we are proudly bringing to market like Tweason’ale (a champagne-esque, gluten-free beer fermented with buckwheat honey and strawberries) and Noble Rot (a sort of saison brewed with Botrytis-infected Viognier Grape must). One of these beers is on the sweeter side and one is more sour. Knowing each of your palettes is unique you will probably prefer one over the other. That doesn’t mean the one you didn’t prefer sucked. And the breweries you don’t prefer but are growing don’t suck either. Respect Beer. The below was my favorite post thus far.

This thread is hilarious. Seriously, Bells, Founders, FFF, Surly, RR, DFH, Bruery, Avery, Cigar City, Mikkeller are all overrated?

Since I’m from Ohio, I’ll pile on and add Great Lakes, Hoppin Frog, and Brew Kettle to the list. Your welcome.

Hopefully soon we will have every craft brewery in the US on the list.

That’s a mouthful!  Here is to all the great people brewing all the beer out there today!  I love you all!  I may not like all your beer, but your ingenuity and integrity is infectious and makes Craft beer a very special place!  Here is to you!

-Don

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49 Comments on “A Storm Is a Brewin’…”

  1. January 10, 2012 at 5:33 pm #

    Don – “That’s a mouthful! Here is to all the great people brewing all the beer out there today! I love you all! I may not like all your beer, but your ingenuity and integrity is infectious and makes Craft beer a very special place! Here is to you!”

    Well Said, my thoughts exactly!

    • Don
      January 10, 2012 at 5:40 pm #

      Tyson too 😉

    • January 10, 2012 at 6:00 pm #

      Amen sister!

  2. oliver klosoff
    January 10, 2012 at 5:42 pm #

    Yeah, BA can be full of it A LOT of the time, but to me it was even worse seeing all the ass kissers come out after that.

    • Don
      January 10, 2012 at 5:44 pm #

      I think there is room for differences of opinion, but why do we need to pan any brewery? They are in existence for a reason…people like their beer. So, all this negativity is really weird to me.

      • oliver klosoff
        January 10, 2012 at 5:48 pm #

        Anytime beer snobery can rear it’s ugly head, it can because sometimes we think our own opinions carry more merit than any other. I fall into the category that for every 5 beers DFH puts out, i may like one of them and that’s cool. I don’t consider it a favorite brewery (esp. since they pulled out of TN), but I can understand why some would appreciate them more than I do. The only brewery that comes to mind that I dog a lot is Gordon Biersch. For one, no I don’t (usually) care for lagers or too many German styles, but most importantly, I am still pissed over the Oskar Blues deal.

        • Don
          January 10, 2012 at 5:51 pm #

          Oskar Blues deal?

        • oliver klosoff
          January 10, 2012 at 5:57 pm #

          GB threatened legal action against Oskar Blues for their use of Gordon Ale.

  3. January 10, 2012 at 5:52 pm #

    Don, when you’re right, you’re right. Well said.

    We’ll see what happens over the next few years. Pete’s Wicked Ale went away because the dark ale that was its flagship beer became ho-hum (not because it had changed, we had changed) and wasn’t bold enough for our palates anymore.

    DFH is not a go-to brewery for me because it does push the envelope so hard, and my Grail is the hoppy version of a session beer. But, that said, I really appreciate what Sam has done for the world of craft beer. And, he’s written a book so that others might learn from his mistakes. I also really enjoyed Brew Masters (there I said it).

    • Don
      January 10, 2012 at 5:56 pm #

      Thanks Norm. I just think that breweries are pushing the envelope and sometime it works and others it does not. I’m just glad that complacency hasn’t set in.

  4. Evan
    January 10, 2012 at 5:55 pm #

    I haven’t been on BA since about 2005 because I saw this kind of attitude on there a lot back then. Just doesn’t seem particularly contructive to the movement. A thread who asks what the most underrated breweries are would get a fraction the response as one like this.

    • Don
      January 10, 2012 at 5:58 pm #

      People do like to rank on things Evan. I don’t get it. I guess I was raised that if I didn’t have anything good to say, I should say nothing at all!

    • oliver klosoff
      January 10, 2012 at 5:59 pm #

      I don’t know about that Even, there will be a lot of replies from people pimping their brewery down the street. Problem is that there will be no substance to the post, some might even have to add the dreaded (10 char)

      • oliver klosoff
        January 10, 2012 at 6:00 pm #

        I’m the one with the hard name to spell, but I’m the one that can’t spell Evan.

  5. January 10, 2012 at 6:02 pm #

    Beer is good! Nuff said?

    • January 10, 2012 at 7:50 pm #

      That, and “Good people drink good beer.”

  6. January 10, 2012 at 6:26 pm #

    I think the important thing to consider is would anyone really like a craft brewery that produced nothing but likable beers. That seems to drift dangerously close to the idea of “drinkablility”. I like the fact that there are many breweries that make beer I don’t like, but that others love.

    Recently Greg Koch said on The brewing network’s the Session “that we are drinking beer at the greatest time, in the greatest country in history, and people still find time to complain” (I’m paraphrasing).

    • January 10, 2012 at 10:54 pm #

      Interesting perspective Michael–I like it! It captures the way that I generally feel about DFH. I like a number of their beers–even the World Wide Stout, which is 40 proof and which I sip from a liqueur glass–but most are too much for my beer-drinking sensibilities. Nevertheless, I applaud their brio, purity of purpose and iconoclastic character.

  7. johnking82
    January 10, 2012 at 6:53 pm #

    Tronto texted me about this, then I saw it on beernews.org, and then Tronto and I discussed after work. it’s dumb. The negativity that surrounds the BA forums (not the Alstrom brothers themselves…they are just as tired of it) is disgusting. Simply put, it’s like abunch of 7th graders calling each other derogative names and bad mouthing people. Dogfish might be not liked by those supreme god-like beer geeks, but to regular Joe Schmo…its a damn good beer. It’s what got me into craft beer. Jealousy is a dish best served cold.

    Let’s go ahead and debate on BA who would win an election…a turd sandwich or a giant douche.

  8. January 10, 2012 at 7:14 pm #

    This is why I don’t participate in any forums (aside from comment threads on blogs). All of them are negative. My local beer club had some discussion boards and they all turned negative. Since we moved to Facebook, its been much more civil. I suspect because some of the anonymity is lost. Similarly, comment threads on blogs are even better. We get into some heated discussions here, but it rarely goes negative. The only thing I use BA for is to check out grades, pairing ideas, and glass suggestions for beers. The forums are just plain stupid. (There’s some negativity for you.)

    • johnking82
      January 10, 2012 at 7:16 pm #

      ZAC IS A STUPID-HEAD BLOGGER WHO EATS BOOGERS!!

      • January 10, 2012 at 7:39 pm #

        I was saying that long before it was cool to do so. Validate my existence!

    • January 10, 2012 at 10:57 pm #

      I agree Zac, anonymity seems to bring out the worst in many people. Also, regardless of what John says, I can’t imagine you eating boogers.

  9. andy
    January 10, 2012 at 7:25 pm #

    Don, didn’t you once go by the nickname “Hawksbeerfan”? 😉

  10. January 10, 2012 at 7:43 pm #

    Beer rating sites are frustrating to read sometimes, but it’s just a reflection of the culture as a whole. I’m willing to bet that most of these critics have never attempted to brew a beer of their own.

    • January 10, 2012 at 11:03 pm #

      Seems to be a common malady. Many food critics can’t boil an egg, or movie critics compose a scene, but that doesn’t seem to stop them. I simply use them as a point of easy comparison of the generic descriptions (i.e., type of beer, ABV, etc.) for beers I haven’t tried yet. When I look at the critiques I have tried they never agree with my assessment.

  11. BrewHiker
    January 10, 2012 at 8:52 pm #

    I use BA solely for ratings/reviews on beers I’m considering buying, usually only those that are rare or involve plunking down a huge chunk of change. The inbred fightin’ words that clog the forums are too depressing. They make me want to drink…

    Where’s my Palo Santo Marron…?

  12. Kid Carboy Jr.
    January 10, 2012 at 9:54 pm #

    I was also annoyed by all of the suck-ups coming out after the Calagione post, “thanks for bestowing your wisdom upon us!”

    I don’t like the idea that we’re all supposed to be nice if we don’t like a brewery’s ethos. Why not be negative about something you feel negatively about? We’re all just sharing opinions. I feel like Sam would prefer to repress anyone’s negative reaction to anything they make. He even basically says at one point that you’re not allowed to objectively rate their beers.

    I’m sorry, but I’m pretty sure that’s allowed. If I want to say a beer you made sucks, you don’t have to believe me, but I’m not going to stop saying it just so everybody can pretend to be pals.

    I’m consistently surprised that more people don’t seem to feel this way. Where did the sense of “we all need to say positive things all the time” come from?

    • January 10, 2012 at 11:06 pm #

      Hey Carboy, its not about saying positive things nicely all the time, its about saying negative things in a nice way–makes the medicine go down smoother. Its really just good old-fashioned courtesy.

      • Kid Carboy Jr.
        January 11, 2012 at 1:18 am #

        Maybe it’s because I work in the media, but I just don’t expect people to say anything other than exactly what they think to me. When people don’t like something I write, they say it sucks. That’s the job.

        It’s not like I bother taking part in threads on BA about “what’s the most overrated brewery,” but I hardly see what the harm of that discussion is supposed to be. Are DFH sales supposed to be impacted by these guys saying something negative in a thread? I can’t see how it could possibly make a difference.

        I dunno, I’d just prefer honestly to “courtesy.” None of it affects the beer in the end, right?

        • January 11, 2012 at 9:42 am #

          I don’t have an issue with expressing a negative opinion. I will often give several reasons for why I dislike a beer, but I will never say that a craft beer is overrated because the general opinion does not conform to my individual taste (note: this does not apply to macros, because, c’mon). I think that was the main point Sam was trying to make.

          Also, I must take issue with Sam’s grammar and usage. For someone who prides himself on his English Lit background, it’s jarring to see “palette,” instead of “palate” or “Your welcome” or the clumsy “Hopefully soon . . . ” in an otherwise well argued post.

        • January 11, 2012 at 10:41 am #

          Having been a technical writer for the largest part of my career, I know wher you’re coming from. I too have been on the receiving end of a lot of frank criticism–in my business it was called “bleeding all over your work” because of all the red ink. But one can critique w/o being nasty about it. Honesty is good, negativity isn’t (or put another way, scepticism is good, cynicism isn’t.) At my age, I tend to feel its my prerogative to be a curmudgeon–I’m even proud of it–and more than once I’ve said things on-line in a way that I later regretted. It wasn’t about what I said, but how I said it.

          Another factor in this equation is that of overwhelming negativity. Some folks get off on it, but for most it palls quickly. When I read a thread that is mostly negative it brings me down. If most of the threads on a site are of that ilk, I stop reading/ subscribing. I’m simply not a masochist.

        • Don
          January 11, 2012 at 10:50 am #

          Wow, great discussion guys. I’m glad we aren’t all Beer Advocate..y and going all negative all over the place! I must say that these are all good arguments, but as for me if you can’t have civility in your conversation, I’m not interested. Nothing makes me stop listening quicker than a hostile or snarky attitude. With me you lose all credibility and begin to erode your own argument through a disrespectful tone. And I think this is what is being said. Not that you can’t criticize or even dislike something and voice your opinion about it, but if you choose to do so remember that how you come across reflects on your own credibility.

        • January 11, 2012 at 10:52 am #

          Oh, and the next time a cop gives you a traffic ticket (an in-your-face criticism if I ever saw one), note how courteous he is. That’s what its all about.

        • January 11, 2012 at 12:47 pm #

          Don said “With me you lose all credibility and begin to erode your own argument through a disrespectful tone.” Yes, that’s it exactly. When debating, an angry, personally insulting or abusive response begets the same and intelligent discourse becomes impossible. When I was still working I often advised my proteges that “He who loses his temper, loses the argument.” A corollary to that might be: He who is discourteous loses his listeners.

      • January 11, 2012 at 1:02 pm #

        Just an afterthought. Years ago, I was paired with another analyst/reporter, Bob Miller, who had a reputation for being very bright but argumentative (not abusive, just argumentative.) It didn’t take long before he and I were fighting like cats and dogs–and folks assumed that we hated each other. But the bottom-line is that we each argued substance, not the character of the other or the possible marital status or species of the other’s parents. The result of our arguments were finely honed products, having been subjected to really stringent critical thought. And after a day of arguing and producing truly great product, Bob and I would go off together to have a beer. We became best friends.

  13. Greg H.
    January 11, 2012 at 8:09 am #

    Wow, that was some thread. I couldn’t get all the way through it, it just got ridiculous. A lot of those guys were dumoing on breweries for stupid reasons, one guy said a brewery was overrated because he got a bad beer in a trade… moron. Sure, there are breweries I don’t pick up that often any more, but it’s not that the beer sucks or is overrated, it’s that there are other options I want to try more. It used to be I had to hunt for good beer, now I can get decent stuff at a tiny, little corner store. I’m glad I don’t visit BA, who has time for that crap.

  14. johnking82
    January 11, 2012 at 8:55 am #

    One thing to consider is that no where in Merriam Webster under the definition of “overrated” is their a notion towards bad or negativity. For example, people say Lebron James is overrated, but he is not a bad basketball players because he plays in the NBA. It takes a lot of talent and hard work to play in the NBA.

    Now if the thread was, “Which brewery sucks the most?”…then a negative connotation would be added to it…and most people would saw ABInbev.

    • January 11, 2012 at 10:49 am #

      Unfortunately John, this is another case where a perfectly good English word has been twisted to mean something else. In the common American lexicon “overrated” is a negative term. Its like the debate I had w/ Zac a few months back regarding the word “Hermaphrodite.”

      • johnking82
        January 11, 2012 at 11:13 am #

        I remember that post, it was pretty overrated. 🙂

  15. January 11, 2012 at 12:17 pm #

    I think Sam hit it on the head when he referred to palate (thanks for the correction Alex), each of us tastes things differently and that’s what makes all of the breweries unique, our varied responses to how much we like a specific beer.

    I personally don’t like anything DFH has brewed, ever, but I always try their beers whenever I get the chance. Why? Because DFH and Sam are trying new things and supporting the diversity of craft beer, no matter how large or small the brewery.

    What most of the beer snobs on BA, RateBeer, etc. seem to ignore is that it’s a matter of taste. Just because YOU think a beer sucks or is the best ever doesn’t mean that that’s the final truth. You can only relate what you thought of it and let others try it for themselves and either agree or disagree.

    I recently did a post on what I thought were the best draught beers I had over the past year and tried to make it very clear that it was only my opinion. The thought of doing a worst beers flicked in my mind for a nano-second before being discarded. There’s no point in tearing down brewers who are doing this out of a love for the craft.

    • January 11, 2012 at 5:53 pm #

      Given that all the taste stuff is utterly subjective, I think people should be able to then state “I personally think XXXX beer sucks” without other people, or the brewers themselves being offended by it.

      Obviously, we all know that everyone’s palate is different. Doesn’t that make it all the more absurd that when someone says “I think Burton Baton sucks,” other people will say “You’re wrong?” or “You shouldn’t post at all if you don’t like it.”

      It’s by no means EASY to hear, but I would think that brewers would be very keen to hear the reasoning behind those kinds of opinions. I know that when I make a new batch of homebrew and get a a handful of certified beer judges to taste it, I’d rather hear exactly what they all think, not only hear back from the ones with nice things to say.

      Is it just the word “sucks” that is the problem? If the exact same scenarios were presented with someone saying “disliked,” do you feel like that would make it more palatable?

      • January 12, 2012 at 12:05 pm #

        I agree with everything you said. My point was that there are some out there who think theirs’ is the only opinion who counts, and that is wrong. I don’t have a problem with someone using ‘sucks’ to describe a beer they don’t like, they could say it tastes like crap for all I care. It’s when someone says a beer sucks, and that’s the final word; that’s not constructive criticism anyone can use.

        It’s better to say “I think this beer sucks,” rather than “This beer sucks.” A fine line, I agree, but one that makes a big difference (to me, anyways). And of course explaining why you don’t like it goes a long way specifically because of what you said.

  16. BeerBanker
    January 11, 2012 at 12:24 pm #

    Wow. A single post with 38 comments without a single BEAR SIGHTING !!! A new record for Don… Oh yeah, and ditto all that stuff ’bout DFH.. 🙂 I too only use BA for reviews, websites and location info… I think that when folks start making generalizations, negative OR positive, the value of a discussion goes downhill.

    And BEARS are never overrated.

    • Don
      January 11, 2012 at 12:32 pm #

      How could this ever be over rated?

      • January 11, 2012 at 12:51 pm #

        He doesn’t look too courteous!!

  17. January 11, 2012 at 2:08 pm #

    First of all, Sam’s response is excellent and it’s consistent with much of what he said on his show, in the book, interviews and at public appearances. It’s all comes down to individual tastes. I certainly count myself as one of those who love some of DFH’s brews but avoid certain others. With their wide ranging lineup I don’t see how it would be possible not to have varied opinions on their brews.

    That said, to label them as overrated is unfair even if you don’t like most of what comes out of the brewery. I can understand how a handful of craft beer “purists” might take offense at Sam’s “non-brewing exploits” such as the show but I, for one, thought it was a benefit to the craft beer industry (and so did the industrial swillionaries who apparently saw to the show’s untimely demise).

    Nothing wrong with strong opinions – they fuel so much of what’s great about the craft beer industry – but let’s understand that a brewery isn’t “overrated” simply because it’s popular or successful.

    Cheers!

    @TheAlemomnger

  18. January 11, 2012 at 2:23 pm #

    Hmmm..this post is up to 46 comments (including this one), and his previous post got 25 comments. Cud it be that Don is gonna unseat Jim as King of the Blog? Will Jim have to resort to using a post that includes multiple entries with the word “penis” or talking about blowsy non-entities? Stay tuned….

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