The Aleheads got an unsolicited (though very friendly e-mail) from one of the Business Development Associates over at Normally we ignore these kinds of e-mails like the plague, but the website in question has recently added a beer database and they wanted our opinion on how useful it might be to Aleheads the world over. Never one to allow anything to go uncriticized, I added my two cents about some minor quibbles I had with their site. My contact responded immediately with an explanation of my concerns, and in one case, they actually made an alteration based on my recommendations.*

*Probably a terrible idea on their part. Following the advice of the Aleheads is generally a recipe for the immediate failure of your business.

The Aleheads are suckers for people paying attention to our useless opinions, so when we were asked if we might write up a little post about this new resource, we quickly said “maybe later”. Since it’s now later, I figured I’d broadcast this new site to the Alehead Nation legions. Check it out and let the good folks over at FindTheBest know what you think!*

*In particular, let their CEO, Kevin O’Connor, know what you think. In his bio, he lists Atlas Shrugged as his favorite book and Ayn Rand as a personal hero. So he’s apparently a 19-year-old, easily impressionable Philosophy major at a mid-tier liberal arts college.

I’m sure the FindTheBest folks will monitor the comments following this post, so PLEASE be as open and critical as possible. My contact there said this is a work in progress and they are looking for any and all constructive criticism to make the database and presentation better. FindTheBest appears to be aiming for a “one-stop shop” approach to comparison shopping. They’ve got databases for dogfood, colleges, snowblowers and hundreds of other topics. So while you’re perusing their beer database, take a gander at the rest of the site and see if it’s a resource you might use. I can’t guarantee they’ll take all of your opinions into consideration, but so far, they seem pretty responsive to user feedback.

8 thoughts on “FIND THE BEERS

  1. Leaving aside the question of whether aggregating RateBeer and BeerAdvocate data is a socially useful function — it’s fucking not — my biggest question about FindTheBest’s new beer database is whether it could add functionality to make beer-shopping easier. The Aleheads have occasionally talked offline about the need for a package store app that would let you plug in the name of a beer (or better, scan a bar/QR code) and go right to online ratings and reviews of that beer.

    Also, beer reviewers in 2012 are like rabbis. An observant Jew doesn’t get Jewish law from a book–he follows a particular rabbi so that he gets consistent guidance and isn’t picking and choosing. I think the same is true of beer savants and reviewers. If Barley McHops recommends a beer, I go pick it up. If Slouch Sixpack tells me about a great pale ale he had, I pass it by. (If the voice from beyond the grave of Sir Magnus Skullsplitter tries to tell me how good Magic Hat #9 is, I turn up my iPod.) So getting the aggregate data from BeerAdvocate and RateBeer may be fine for most people, but I would also like to see links to individual reviews if that’s feasible. How helpful would it be if I could go to one source, while standing in the beer aisle, and find out if any of the reviewers I trust has written about a particular beer??

    Lastly, popular side-by-side comparisons for Pliny the Younger (an IPA) are listed as Budweiser (piss) and Goose Island’s Bourbon County Rare (a barrel-aged imperial stout). They might want to work on that tool.

  2. I share a number of your concerns with the database. I don’t love that the three sources mined for data are BA, RB, and one somewhat obscure beer blog written by two guys (that’s not a knock on their site, of course…I’d have the same concern if Aleheads was the third leg of their beer information tripod). While BA and RB are clearly the most comprehensive beer rating sites on-line, simply aggregating their ratings doesn’t really “add” anything for a beer drinker.

    I also find some of the data points problematic or just pointless. Calories and Carbs are only useful for a handful of “Low-Carb” beers. Craft beer drinkers simply don’t care about the calories in their brew (that’s not a stereotype…that’s just fact). The style/sub-style thing is a little odd. I don’t know if people really search for “American Ales”. That’s just too broad. I had also told my contact that I found the pie chart for ABV sort of silly. He said pie charts were just a quirk of FindTheBest which is fine…but it doesn’t serve any graphical purpose to show a 10% ABV beer as one tenth of a pie. That implies that there’s some mythical 100% ABV beer out there to compare it to (which I’m sure BrewDog is working on now…they can call it “The Whole Pie”).

    Beyond that, the data is still very rough. Lots of odd comparables. When you click on a beer, it often lists “other beers from this brewery” that are clearly not made at that brewery. Still needs a lot of polish.

    ALL that said, there’s nothing in the world easier than criticizing the hell out of something on the internet. At least FindTheBest is trying to develop a good resource. And if they polish the thing and get a solid mobile app for it, I could see it being useful when someone is shopping at a Whole Foods and wants a comparison for cereal, vitamins, and beer all in the same app. It may not ever be particularly useful to hardcore Aleheads, but then again, cynical, drunken assholes aren’t really the demographic any company should be shooting for.

  3. Not to let facts get in the way of a good joke, but Kevin O’Connor founded DoubleClick which was sold to Google for 3.1 billion dollars.

    Maybe he likes Ayn Rand because he’s super rich and successful. Kevin, how about a little seed money to expand

  4. I’ve actually been considering developing something similar, but on a local level, and I’d appreciate your thoughts. Not a beer comparison, but a local beerfinder website with a mobile version for smartphones (maybe an app). You’d type in beer you are looking for, or possibly a category like IPA, enter your zip code, a mile radius search area (say 10 miles) and it would give you all area liquor stores, convenient stores, grocery stores, etc. that carry that beer.

    Could also be paired with ratings, allowing people to rate the beer they are searching for, similar to Still in preliminary research phase. I’m contacting a local distributor and liquor store owner to discuss how to get inventory lists. Site would be advertising driven, so local stores could advertise specials, link to their sites, etc.

    I’ve found lots of beerfinder sites and apps online, but they primarily target bars. I’ve only found one other site similar to what I’m trying to develop and it is only in certain states. Definitely would start in my local area to develop this program, but could then expand to other markets.


  5. Ah, but have you actually read Ayn Rand? No. I’ve never seen a book change so many lives. I read Atlas Shrugged when I was dirt poor but trying to build my first startup out of college. She celebrates the individual thinker and risk taker and slams the ‘moochers’ – those parasites that feed off the efforts of others. Great stuff and very applicable today.

    Sorry AleHeads but I’m out of the VC business….but come to Santa Barbara and we’ll go drink some beer.

    1. You’ve never seen a book change so many lives? Apparently you’ve never read Mo Willems seminal work, “Knuffle Bunny”. It’s a story of redemption that will renew your faith in humanity.

      I assume most of the Aleheads (including myself) have read Atlas Shrugged and the Fountainhead at some point in our lives. I find Objectivism to be roughly on par with Scientology in terms of reasonable worldviews, but everyone needs to find a philosophy that works for them and there’s no question that things turned out OK for you!

      The Aleheads are almost all on the “moocher” side of the equation. Even our site is something of a parasite that feeds off the efforts of those noble, heroic brewers. We just enjoy making fun of people more successful than us. It helps salve the pain when we shuffle back to our hovels and eat our turnip soup by candlelight.

      I actually lived in Santa Barbara for awhile. One of the prettiest towns on Earth and I certainly miss it. I’ll let you know when the Aleheads head that way and we can hit up Telegraph!

      1. Aleheads are definitely not moochers unless you steal your beer. You’ve created which is changing the world – like the flapping wings of a butterfly changes the world.

        Back in my first startup, I didn’t even have candlelight nor could I afford the water for soup so I would have envied you.

        I hate “philosophies” and never fully grasped the intricacies of objectivism. What I do know is that if society embraces – rather than repress – self-interest we do better as a group. Capitalism for all it’s evils has raised more people out of poverty than any other system.

        Knuffle Bunny is on my list…

        1. Excellent. You’ll love it…assuming that you have a 2-year-old.

          Actually, come to think of it, my 2-year-old DOES act like an Objectivist. Everything she does is based on self-interest. Perhaps I should be trying to get her to sleep by reading John Galt’s 70-page rant instead of a book about a missing stuffed animal.

          I’m glad at least SOMEONE recognizes that Aleheads is changing the world. That’s what I tell my wife when she wonders why the hell I’m up at 11pm recording a Podcast that no one listens to.

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