What Happens When Normal People Vote in a Craft Beer Poll

It turns out that American beer geeks see the world quite differently than the other 90% of beer drinkers.   A series of events unfolded over the past few days that demonstrated this point to me quite clearly.

Let’s start at the beginning.

Last Thursday morning I posted an Olympic-themed poll here on B&WB, featuring a list of countries that brew beer and have athletes in the 2012 Games. The poll was simple – vote for all the countries that you think brew good beer.  Over the course of the voting, the countries who got the most votes would rise to the top.

As a beer geek, I had expectations how this would turn out, and as our beer-obsessed readership chimed in, I was proven right.  At the end of the first day of polling, the following countries had the most votes, in this order (I call this the beer geek vote):

  1. USA
  2. Belgium
  3. Germany
  4. Britain
  5. Ireland

This poll was created to be a companion piece to an article I wrote about British beers for the Today Show (an Olympic-themed cry for attention, to be sure).  The Today Show post went up Friday morning, and as the votes streamed in, the poll stayed pretty much even.  But one thing did change – the lead enjoyed by the U.S.A began to narrow as the Today.com readership voted in greater numbers for Britain, Germany and Belgium than beer geeks did.  Still, as of Friday afternoon, the results remained the same (I call this the beer/food enthusiast vote):

  1. USA
  2. Belgium
  3. Germany
  4. Britain
  5. Ireland

Then things got a little crazy.  The poll was featured on the “Freshly Pressed” section of the WordPress homepage on Friday night, which always drives a huge amount of general-interest traffic to the site.  These are mostly fellow bloggers, who love to leave comments and participate in stuff like polls, and participate they did.  After thousands of page hits and even more votes, the poll looked like this yesterday morning (I call this the beer appreciator vote):

  1. Germany
  2. Belgium
  3. USA
  4. Britain
  5. Ireland

German and the USA had switched places.  So it looks like the voters’ outlook on beer is quite different depending on their level of enthusiasm for the world’s greatest beverage.

The Top 10 results from the poll as of this morning

  • Beer geeks think overwhelmingly that the United States brews the best beer in the world (and they’re right, dammit!), followed by Belgium, and then it was pretty close between Germany and Britain.
  • Beer/Food enthusiasts tend to give more weight to European brewers than us beer geeks do, but many still voted for the USA, perhaps out of an appreciation for America’s craft beer movement.  Still, America’s lead and Belgium’s separation from the Brits and the ze Ghermahns narrowed quite a bit as the votes flowed in from Today.com and MSNBC.
  • Then the WordPress-reading Beer appreciators came in great numbers and voted like it’s 1999!  That’s not a knock on them, but I can’t believe that Germany would so handily trounce the USA if these people knew of all the wonderful things that are happening in this country.  It’s like they’re unaware of all of our great craft breweries.

I think there are two factors at work here. One is that some of the people who voted over the weekend were from foreign countries (WordPress apparently has global reach), and maybe German and Belgian exports have tickled their taste buds while the only American beers they know are the macro crap.  The other factor is that regular people living in America simply aren’t aware of the craft beer revolution that’s sweeping the country.  It’s easy to forget that when craft beer is such a big deal in your own little world.

Either way, it looks like us geeks have our work cut out for us, both at home and abroad.  Now let’s get out there and annoy people the way only a real beer geek can!

And don’t forget the proper glassware!!  🙂

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Categories: Beer, Poll


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28 Comments on “What Happens When Normal People Vote in a Craft Beer Poll”

  1. July 31, 2012 at 11:33 am #

    Dang it Jim, I have a really big collection of beer mugs and steins (mostly German btw), I need to make use of those! (LOL)

    • July 31, 2012 at 11:46 am #

      Fill ’em with all that Howl Black Lager you bought!

  2. July 31, 2012 at 11:33 am #

    No kidding, I was reading some of the comments and was wondering where many of these people came from. I sometimes forget that what those that live outside of USA have never sampled our great craft brews because most aren’t available. I shudder to think that the world sees us as BMC.

    • July 31, 2012 at 11:46 am #

      I think the world has many opinions of us that would make me shudder…

      • oliverklosoff
        July 31, 2012 at 12:11 pm #

        Hold the phone! The world doesn’t see us for the awesome beings we are? We should send copies of Team America to every person from countries that hate us.

  3. July 31, 2012 at 11:39 am #

    Here in the US, I really like the microbreweries and their beers: fantastic stuff. I’m not so happy with the big companies’ beers.

    • July 31, 2012 at 11:47 am #

      I really don’t consider the big brewers stuff to even be the same animal. It’s like comparing McDonald’s to a meal prepared by somebody on Top Chef – a totally different thing!

      • July 31, 2012 at 11:49 am #


  4. July 31, 2012 at 11:46 am #

    It’s not only the rest of the world, it’s the majority of folks here too. BMC, to them, is what American beer is. So if you make a bold claim that the U.S. makes better beer than Germany, they’re shocked and think that you must be high. Funny thing is, most of these folks have never even had German beer except for a couple pilsners imported in green bottles which were several months old by the time they took them off their grocery store shelf. Some HAVE been Germany, and they were in Munich for Octoberfest, and they had a grand old time (drinking pilsner after pilsner after pilsner for three days straight). But the only thing they have to compare it to is BMC.

    The conclusion I’ve finally come to is that those who think Germany makes the world’s best beer have never had an ale (unless it came with a little shamrock pattern in the head).

    • July 31, 2012 at 11:48 am #

      Yeah, I didn’t want to make that generalization, but I’m glad you did! 🙂

  5. July 31, 2012 at 12:09 pm #

    Germany does have great beers, but as much as Rheinheitsgebot has contributed to quality beer it does have a down side in that it limits what German brewers can do w/ their beers. Other European brewers are also limited to some extent by tradition–great beers but not necessarily all that innovative (a possible exception is Belgium.)

    For innovation in brewing the US and GB crafters and micros are way ahead of the pack. I suspect that Japan and NZ may become major players in this arena as well. I don’t know where Oz figures in this equation yet but Iook forward to finding out–there and in Latin America as well.

    Its obvious from all the responses on this and the last post, that availability plays a huge part in our view of where the best beers are being produced. Seems to me that craftees and micros here in the US would be well-served by organizing some exchanges and collaborations with/in places like Kenya, S. Africa, Slovakia, Hungary, Brazil, etc., etc. DFH has pioneered this approach, but it sounds as though it needs to expand to other breweries.

    • July 31, 2012 at 1:13 pm #

      Yeah, they always say Britain doesn’t export their “good stuff” and neither do we. It’s a shame, but then again I’d hate to be in Kenya craving a Dale’s Pale Ale…

  6. July 31, 2012 at 12:54 pm #

    I am actually utterly shocked that the general public vote wouldn’t have USA on top because Bud Light is a Merikan beer.

    • July 31, 2012 at 1:14 pm #

      Not sure if you’re trolling or being sarcastic, Senior Smurfe, but I like your style!

  7. July 31, 2012 at 2:07 pm #

    Germans of late have always had expansionistic drives…

  8. July 31, 2012 at 2:27 pm #

    I’m one of those pollers who found you through freshly-pressed this week and loved the idea so much that I’ve come back for more.
    You may be getting into the territory of traditional vs innovative – as massugu stated earlier – and that could be putting your voters into one of two camps (an interesting follow-up poll). Personally I prefer to quaff a resiny northwest IPA that pushes flavour boundaries but there is definitely a place for a time-tested Belgium. It is important not to forget the traditional brews that have brought us up to where we are.

    • July 31, 2012 at 2:41 pm #

      I agree with what you’re saying, but the construction of the poll takes that into account, allowing voters to choose all the countries they like.

      So you can vote for Innovation (‘murica!) and Tradition (places where wooden shoes are worn); you didn’t have to pick just one.

      So the fact that America came in third shows me that either people don’t like craft beer (unlikely if they appreciate German and Belgian beers) or that they simply have no idea about the wonderful stuff happening in America.

      That give me a major sad. 😦

  9. July 31, 2012 at 2:47 pm #

    Don’t be sad. A bronze medal is still a podium finish.

    • July 31, 2012 at 3:01 pm #

      Yes, but no one ever says “go for the bronze!” Even the brass ring thinks bronze sucks.

  10. thehidalgograincompany
    July 31, 2012 at 4:57 pm #

    I wavered between Britain and Germany – but my fondness for Oktoberfest won out.

    Maybe I “over-thought” this poll. Should I vote on how the beer tastes in its homeland? Or how it tastes after being shipped to the States? (British brews really suffer on their way over. Some are nearly undrinkable by the time they arrive.) On tap or bottled? And, to be honest, I didn’t consider the many individual craft brews here in the USA – many of which trounce German beers.

    Where’s Al Gore? Is there a hanging chad? Can I change my vote?

    • July 31, 2012 at 5:23 pm #

      The thing is, you have voted for BOTH of them! The top of the poll even says “Select All That Apply” because I knew people would think it was “either-or,” not “as many as you like.” I’m sure you’re not alone in missing this crucial detail.

      I voted for every country I had a positive beery feeling about. Why not? I figured in the end, the winners would bubble to the top.

      But I also figured those winners would be statistically obese and buy most of their household goods at Wal*Mart. 😦

      • thehidalgograincompany
        August 1, 2012 at 8:46 am #

        Yep – you’re right – missed that little detail…

  11. July 31, 2012 at 9:25 pm #

    Holy Crap. We certainly live in our own little world, don’t we.

    • July 31, 2012 at 9:30 pm #

      [question mark] Gah!

  12. Diss Content
    August 1, 2012 at 11:43 am #

    I believe this is another example of America putting its bland foot forward to the world. What represents the USA in Europe? McDonalds, Budweiser and Microsoft which epitomizes our quantity over quality viewpoint with 69 cent finished food products, a 30 can case of beer and an operating system so utterly counter-intuitive; that we have actually accepted the hypnosis induced logic that you need to go to ‘Start’, in order to shut down your computer, and having the Save and Delete functions as adjacent keys is perfectly rational and desirable.

    I’m sure the most popular car would include the Honda Accord long before any mention of Lotus, Bentley or Morgan since the aggregate production of the last three won’t equal what Honda produces in a matter of hours. So as it goes for Gear-heads, Gastronomes and Friendless Eunuchs; so it goes for Beer Geeks who are destined to enjoy their tasty, collective knowledge as a righteous minority.

  13. HopDevil
    August 3, 2012 at 9:46 am #

    While I agree that the majority of other countries don’t get to see the wonderful things the U.S. craft brewers are doing I think there’s also a lot of people who haven’t seen the light here in out own country. I work at a small package store in New England where we have 2 singles bins by the counter. Many people stop and examine the cans or bottles for their packaging but stick to their Bud or Rolling Rock. Just the other day a regular came to the counter with 3 Lagunitas Undercover Investigation ale’s he grabbed and after i said something along the lines of “Going for the good stuff today” he picked one up to read the label, asked “This is beer, right?” and after I assured him it was he said it will probably be good enough to chase his Jose gold half pint. The next customer, a male in his late 20’s or early 30’s, mentioned he doesn’t bother with that fancy crap and he’ll stick to bud, bud light and busch. When i said there’s a lot of fun and delicious variety out there and pointed out another lager he might try he said he doesn’t like lager he likes beer. After starting to explain that the choice he was making was in fact a lager and telling him what it meant only to get a blank stare in return i gave him his change and gave up. Luckily my co workers are beer nerds as well and we can laugh about it after.

  14. Sean
    September 23, 2012 at 4:07 pm #

    I thought there were more of us craft beer enthusiasts, and while there are certainly a few of us, I have been a little surprised that whenever I go to someone’s house all they have is Bud Lite or Coors Lite. Had a shindig at my house this summer and got Land Shark and Heineken (not exactly “craft” beer, but better than most massed produced American swill) and most people still balked…! “You don’t have Coors Light…?”… um, NO, this my house… sheesh…

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