With my new job, it’s been harder to catch up on all of the beer news out there. With that being said, I still find enough time to scan the Internet. I say “scan” because let’s not forget that I have a small baby crawling around me when I am off work! I have noticed a troubling amount of prominent beer bloggers, writers and people within the brewing industry calling out newer beer writers. I have thought about this for a few days, about whether I wanted to write an article in response and I finally opted for yes.
I am a fairly new writer with elementary views on the tasting notes of malt, the flavors that come from most hop varieties except that glorious Citrus and a few other favorites, and I do not have multiple home brew awards like one other member of BTL! What I do have a passion for craft beer and I share this with other beer writers. I want to help to make craft beer accessible, in my words and opinions, to everyone who shows the slightest interest in the passion that we all share.
Let me preface this with some legalese – “The views of this writer are not necessarily the views of all members of BTL” – and by saying that, I will definitely call out bad list makers. I’m looking at you Thrillist, best beer in the USA Habanero Sculpin - you've got to be kidding me! But calling out new writers on social media and making fun of them does nothing positive for these writers. I refuse to link to the articles or the commentary from the members of the peanut gallery but there is a stark difference between offering constructive criticism and not being helpful, in my opinion. I have spoken with enough brewers and beer media professionals to know that the number one thing that they all love about beer is the community that it creates. This community can tear down these new members by only giving pithy responses and not really helping the people who are trying to expand the industry by writing about it. The community that we are building shouldn't alienate new writers, new readers or new members. It should work together to build up their knowledge base just as people in my own past have helped to build my knowledge of beer.
We all discuss beer in a variety of different ways. Some people write in a very technical manner because they have the knowledge base to do so. Some people write from a home brew perspective, or even a past experience perspective, like me. If you don't enjoy my cavalier style of talking about my life experiences and how they relate to beer, that is fine, but it can be useful to novice craft beer addicts. If you don't like a person’s style, don't read them. If you don't think a person is knowledgeable enough for your consumption, don't read them. However, that writer could be connecting with a new beer lover who doesn't know about pH balance, the difference between bittering and aroma hops, or what sparging is, and having this introduction into the beer world is a necessary step.
By all means, if you see someone write a false statement, or make a blatant mistake (it’s ABV not APV), let them know about it. But if your only comment is “When is this article from? 2003?” or “I remember when I had my first Zombie Dust.” you aren't actually helping anyone. Provide quality feedback or just ignore it. As a community, we have become too quick to tear others down and not quick enough to build them up.
We as a community should try to reach beer lovers of all knowledge levels, not only the ones at the very highest level. You can continue to call out stupid lists, pumpkin beers or whatever else you decide is beneath you but remember we aren't all born with an advanced knowledge of the history of beer. You were all novices once, too. Everyone has to start somewhere. So help to educate these writers instead of immediately making them feel unwelcome in our community.