A few years ago, a brewer asked that I post something s/he wrote anonymously and I did. I thought the point was a good one. This morning, another anonymous brewer posted a comment over at the blog of England's Melissa Cole and also makes some very interesting points:
...Basically this journo has taken a few relatively well known and popular beers that are marketed well and included them in his list. Is this any different from what the majority of beer writers do? I see this all the time with beer bloggers/writers. They only write about a narrow number of beers. They seem to feed of each other and all you have is the same old, same old on the lists. Sure they have their favourites which they promote heavily and even go as far as to do collaborative brews which they also promote heavily (this is a whole seperate integrity issue). I guess what I'm saying is that views of the guy who wrote this article are probably slightly less biased than your average beer writer...
I like this point. Not because I agree with it but because it is necessary to make it. Sad that it must be made anonymously but I think that is realistic in the today's world of beer writing in which response and consideration is immediately - even rushed - and reputations are rather fragile. But to the point, it is obvious winners can be and are picked and that the awards may or may not be earned. As the first Anonymous Brewer pointed out, "...as with most critics they go off half cocked and I think often fully pickled..."
OK, maybe not the best quotation but you get the sense of his lack of respect for beer rating web sites. Common company with the more recent Anonymous Brewer is the little discussed world of how beer writers write, get access to and are affected by beer. Beer is a pleasure, a commodity, a perk. It's great fun to be involved with it even at a relatively tangential level. I get emails from brewery staff, samples and even some cheques related to my writing. What is not to like? Other become friends with brewers. They brew with them.
Andy Crouch has often asked asked little asked questions of beer writing and ethics. I have always thought in response that it must be one of the areas of writing that is most apt for the consideration. It is right for brewers to speak up as, otherwise, we are left to lobby groups and the rest of the susceptible.