Interesting intervention in a rather over the top bitching session over at the Beer Advocate pointing out the disfunctionality of a large part of the discourse. In response to some wildly weirdly accusations about which breweries in the US are "over rated", Sam Calagione of Dogfish Head in response went off:
It's pretty depressing to frequently visit this site and see the most negative threads among the most popular. This didn't happen much ten years ago when craft beer had something like a 3 percent market share. Flash forward to today, and true indie craft beer now has a still-tiny but growing marketshare of just over 5 percent. Yet so many folks that post here still spend their time knocking down breweries that dare to grow. It's like that old joke: "Nobody eats at that restaurant anymore, it's too crowded.” Except the "restaurants" that people shit on here aren't exactly juggernauts. In fact, aside from Boston Beer, none of them have anything even close to half of one percent marketshare. The more that retailers, distributors, and large industrial brewers consolidate the more fragile the current growth momentum of the craft segment becomes. The more often the Beer Advocate community becomes a soap box for outing breweries for daring to grow beyond its insider ranks the more it will be marginalized in the movement to support, promote, and protect independent American craft breweries...
It is a weird response. It could have been just "screw you, I do what I want." It could have been about how the BAers had become jaded. Both of which are pretty much true. But no. No, we get handed that old saw about how we are all in one boat together and how Team Craft Beer has to pull all in the same direction. See, we need to support "breweries that dare to grow" because, like the flower, they are fragile. It is a call to not be a consumer. It is a call to be something between a co-conspirator and a patsy. Never mind, as Jay points out, there are a an ever expanding huge number of craft breweries in the US. It sounds like we are asked to pay, accept and put up with a craft movement well into its third or fourth decade. But then look at the response. "Sorry!!" "Didn't mean you!!" "Were would we be without you?" "You are the wind beneath my wings." It's the Stockholm Syndrome, good beer version. Would someone respond in the same way if the head brewer of, say, 1900 of the 1952 craft breweries had responded? Not likely. It takes celebrity to get a response like that. Excellent.
There has to be a better way. The part of the good beer trade that pays for everything, the consumer, has to be treated better than this. And the consumer has, in turn, to learn to be more intelligent and well spoken if they are to be taken seriously. The current dialogue this thread exemplifies does not really provide as much as it could or should. Saying that "Bells, Founders, FFF, Surly, RR, DFH, Bruery, Avery, Cigar City, Mikkeller are all overrated" is just weak minded. As Calagione goes on to point out, much to his credit, each of these breweries make a range of beer some of which are to many people's taste. And, to add to that idea, for the most part they are well priced for what they offer.
But some are not. And that is the point of "over rating" a brewery. It is not enough to slag the complaint makers, however thick. Over priced, over packaged and overly precious beers deserve being called over rated. I don't care if you have passion, try really really hard or dare to grow. It's up to me - and each of you - to determine if a beer is a bust or not. If it is worth your money. You want to pay for daring and the duds that that entails, feel free. Me, I like good beer at an honest price.