Dear Craft Brewers, Enough with the Age Gates


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…

Gender?  Questionable.

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!

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Categories: Beer


Craft beer nerd, frequent beer blogger and occasional home brewer.

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17 Comments on “Dear Craft Brewers, Enough with the Age Gates”

  1. Chris Slaby
    May 21, 2014 at 2:25 pm #

    Yes, yes, yes to this! And, I had no idea this wasn’t legally required. Since that’s the case, I’m baffled as to why any craft brewers would choose to have these. I think browsing the content of beer websites is the type of healthy drinking behavior that we’d want to instill in kids, rather than typical college bingeing on the flavorless big name stuff. I greatly applaud your calling individual brewers out, Jim, on this silly practice. Hopefully they’ll take notice and realize that it’s pointless to have these age verifications on website where people *read* to gain knowledge about beer!

    • May 21, 2014 at 2:42 pm #

      Or they’ll ban me – it’s happened before!

      I don’t want to see brewers putting themselves in bad positions, but this seems like the kind of crap that trickles down from the Bud-Miller-Coors types. Not necessary and totally annoying.

  2. May 21, 2014 at 2:34 pm #

    So true, Jim. They annoy me too. Occasionally I have just stopped there. I’m older than dirt; now get off my lawn!

    I have to say that I haven’t had to submit a urine sample yet. Is that a USB port use?

    • May 21, 2014 at 2:43 pm #

      I think it requires a dongle…

  3. Michael
    May 21, 2014 at 3:17 pm #

    Or the 10 yr. old just uses mommy’s or daddy’s birthday, porn password. Or in the case of these video game age gates, many moms and dads just go buy it for ’em. You get an “A+” for the day for this post and for the “dongle” comment.

    • May 21, 2014 at 3:26 pm #

      Thanks – I enjoyed writing the “dongle” comment!

      And I agree – kids are resourceful, certainly enough to break through those silly age gates. Besides, impressionable kids don’t care about craft beer – high schoolers and college students maybe. But they’re into so much mischief, looking at the IBU’s of Sierra Nevada Torpedo Extra IPA isn’t gonna hurt them!

  4. Fred
    May 21, 2014 at 3:39 pm #

    Guys while the TTB may not have a rule about it when they audited Laughing dogs website we were “strongly” advised to add the age gate. The brewers Association advise to add them as well that is why you are seeing them on craft brewers websites

    • May 21, 2014 at 3:55 pm #

      Hey Fred – good to see you here! I think they’re actually starting wane, as some sites that used to have them have been redone and the gates are gone. Still, when you have two important entities recommending you do something, i understand why you wouldn’t rock the boat.

      Please give Don’s beard a tug for me if you’re ever down his way.

  5. Jason Bell
    May 21, 2014 at 4:10 pm #

    The Brewers Association “advice” is actually codified in their Marketing and Advertising Code they expect member breweries to adhere to.

    • May 21, 2014 at 4:25 pm #

      Hmmm…not everyone is following that “advice” I guess. I hope we see more rebels in the future – age gates are the pits!

  6. May 21, 2014 at 4:44 pm #

    Select wildly from the list is not always the strategy. The last time I did that, I didn’t select an age old enough. Dope!

    The age gates are super annoying as a beer blogger. Doing online research results in carpel tunnel having to click whenever entering a beer web site.

    • May 21, 2014 at 4:51 pm #

      When I’m writing and going back to a certain brewer’s site more than once, I sometimes worry they’re going to boot me for not submitting the same DOB that I did a few minutes before. Thanks goodness these are crude and stoopid tools!

  7. Roger
    May 21, 2014 at 5:31 pm #

    I have visited a website, seen the age gate, and decided it wasn’t worth my time. Yes, I have a shoirt attention span, and 5 to 10 seconds is enough to deter me. But I suspect I’m not alone in this.

  8. May 22, 2014 at 9:50 am #

    Indiana requires the age gate. Therefore, I encourage you to check out Black Acre Brewing and Sun King Brewing’s answer to this ridiculousness – by clicking no on the age gate. It’s entertaining.

  9. May 22, 2014 at 4:07 pm #

    Firstly, Amen brother!. Secondly in response to Wandering Gourmand: You too huh? 😉

  10. May 23, 2014 at 6:47 pm #

    Agree 110%. Always assumed the long form gates were simply marketing ploys by breweries to get more info about who visits their websites. That’s why I gleefully use a pre-1920’s age to get in. Glad I’m not the only one who does this!

  11. champs794
    May 27, 2014 at 12:52 pm #

    Necessary evil or not, it is helpful if the birthdate is preset to 21+ years ago. If that’s not compliant, set it to 20.

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