You can actually ignore this post’s title…it’s not really an apology. We don’t apologize for much here at Aleheads. But I did want to touch on some recent posts and my response to the reactions they engendered.
Earlier this week, I wrote a post where I admitted that, on occasion, I look to other sources to aid in the writing of my Tasting Notes. Generally this is only for beers so overwhelming that my palate is no match for them or for beers that are so bland that their tastes trigger nothing but apathy in the part of my brain that forms words. Perhaps some readers are bothered by this admission. Understandable, of course.
The next day, I wrote a somewhat inflammatory rebuttal to a post written by Martyn Cornell, the esteemed British Beer writer. He was very kind to take a few minutes to comment on that post on our site. While his response was measured and civil, he clearly took issue with most of what I said. Understandable, of course.
Finally, I wrote a piece about Gordon-Biersch’s legal wrangling over the name of Oskar Blues’ Gordon Imperial Red Ale. While the piece was ostensibly about the reaction of other brewers to the situation, I took some potshots at Gordon-Biersch’s offerings. Danner, one of our readers, and one of the most well-respected folks in the beer community in Birmingham, politely disagreed with my negative assessments of GB’s beers. Understandable, of course.
But again, this isn’t really an apology for taking stances that are questionable, improperly researched, or just flat out wrong. I just wanted to explain my thoughts on what I believe the function of our humble little website is supposed to be.
As is often the case in life, I look to the Daily Show for inspiration. When Jon Stewart is accused of fabrication, bad research, or willful manipulation, his response is usually as such: “We are a 30-minute comedy show that happens to focus on news and politics! We are NOT a reliable source of news!” When CNN or FoxNews questions the Daily Show’s reporting, Stewart is quick to point out that the show exists for entertainment purposes only. Anyone who takes offense at the Daily Show is sort of missing the point.*
*Though I’d be negligent if I didn’t mention that as the Daily Show’s reputation as a “legitimate” news source has grown in recent years, the show seems to really be putting an incredible amount of effort into fact-checking and research. Arguably they’re as reliable a “news” show as there is on television right now. Scary, right?
I feel the same way about Aleheads. We are NOT a reliable source of beer information. Let me quickly review a couple sentences from our About page:
“Our blog is written by a group of jackasses who know just enough about beer to be annoying in a bar, but not enough to be accurate or insightful in any way.”
“Nothing on this site is informative, helpful, or relevant.”
To me, that makes things pretty clear. We have no idea what we’re talking about and you really shouldn’t take our words too seriously. None of us are actually “Beer Bloggers”, inasmuch as that is not our profession. We aren’t paid for any of this. We all have other, full-time careers. Most of us have wives and mortgages and pets. Some of us (including myself) have children. If we can scrounge up an hour of time to write in the evenings after the kids are asleep but before we drift off into slumber ourselves, that’s a good day.
That’s not to say you shouldn’t find problems with our writing. On the contrary, I LOVE when people take the time to post corrections and complaints. One of the goals of this site is for US to learn about beer and beer culture. So please, please, please continue to tell us what we got wrong. Enlighten us! We love it!
But also understand that we don’t see ourselves as a true source of beer information. You can get better and more current beer news at dozens of other sites. You can find more reliable Tasting Notes all over the interwebs. If you want well-researched, well-informed posts about beer…go to the experts, not us. We are an entertainment site. Think of us as a group of yahoos talking too loudly and too crassly in the back of the bar. Maybe you find that stuff amusing and want to listen in on our conversation…maybe even chip in a few words now and then. Or maybe you just find us irritating and want to correct our mistakes. It doesn’t matter how you feel about us…just don’t confuse our bluster with “real” information.
The Martyn Cornell situation is a good example. In my mind, Cornell IS a reliable source of information. He has influence in the industry and is read and respected by a lot of knowledgeable beer folks. As such, I think he needs to be held to a higher standard than us. When he makes inflammatory comments not backed up by evidence, I think this is a problem. When we do, I don’t. You can consider this a double standard, but I vehemently disagree. No one quotes the Aleheads in news articles about beer. No one lists the Aleheads as an “influential” beer blog. Brewers and breweries are often kind enough to respond on our site, but we know that they don’t take our opinions particularly seriously. We’re just a beer blog written by industry outsiders. We’re an “opinion” site…not a fact site.
So if my use of outside sources for Tasting Notes bothers you, just ignore my Tasting Notes. There are better ones out there anyway. If you think Martyn Cornell is 100% right and my analysis of his posts is ridiculous, that doesn’t surprise me at all. He’s 10 times the beer writer I am. If you disagree with my dismissal of Gordon-Biersch’s (or Rogue’s, or Dogfish Head’s, etc.) beers, let me know! But please remember that I’m not an industry bellwether…I carry no weight or influence in the beer world. Those are just, like, my opinions man.
All of which is to say that Aleheads is simply a site for lively, fun, and sometimes controversial discussion amongst a group of friends. We include all of our readers in that group. We encourage disagreement, debate, and even a little anger now and then (we are an angry bunch, after all). Just don’t take what we say too seriously. We honestly have no idea what we’re talking about.
Also, we’re usually a little drunk.