A Good Beer Blog


Have you read The Unbearable Nonsense of Craft Beer - A Rant in Nine Acts by Alan and Max yet? It's out on Kindle as well as Lulu.

Maureen Ogle said this about the book: "... immensely readable, sometimes slightly surreal rumination on beer in general and craft beer in particular. Funny, witty, but most important: Smart. The beer geeks will likely get all cranky about it, but Alan and Max are the masters of cranky..."

Ron Pattinson said: "I'm in a rather odd situation. Because I appear in the book. A fictional version of me. It's a weird feeling."


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Pivní Filosof -

(assuming we are talking about beers that are new to me)

- Do you consider the opinions of others at all?
Yes, but only of people whose tastes I know, but mostly, I rely on my own experience and judgment.

- Do assume that clever people are taking care of things behind the scenes?

- Do you demand nothing but control of the situation with the skill and experience of all the possible resources and voices that are available to you? Have you come to rely on this beer writer or that one as a guide to a great experience every single time you lift the glass? Do you even get upset with beer writers when your experience has not met the expectations they created for you?

This is a bit back to the first question. When I need advice, I ask it for it to someone who I have reasons to believe will give me an honest answer. The opinion of a writer or blogger (and only one whom I've been following for some time, so I can know their tastes) is only an alternative to that. All that said, and as I mention above, I trust my own judgment more than anything else when it comes to buying new beers and I am in this stage in my beer journey where I prefer to spend my money on beers I will like, rather than on beers I might like.

Bailey -

We'll tend to pay attention to people who can say things like 'Me, I have read a lot and written a lot and drained a lot over now that I can look back from the wisdom of this new sixth decade of life.'

Pay attention, that is, but not 'unquestioningly obey'. Our worshiping of Michael Jackson last a couple of years before we started to disagree with him, at which point it felt as if we'd graduated.

A bit of guidance is useful in new territory, but, as when we're traveling with a Lonely Planet in hand, we reserve the right to improvise.

Alex Saunders -

I will consider the opinions of others when it’s clear they are voicing an opinion they’ve formed over trial and error, experimentation and/or exploration. Too many opinions, in my opinion, are the parroting of some “known” standard. I don’t find the common “I like X beer this week because someone whose opinion I’ve been told to value blogged/tweeted/facedbooked about it.” very useful. I’m actually stuck in some odd loop with a particular brewery in this regard. People rave about this brewery and their products and I’ve never been anything but disappointed – but I go back, again and again, because I’m sure I’m missing something.

I also find that the opinions of others are more useful when I’ve not developed fully formed opinions of my own. Pairing beers with food on a more thoughtful level is somewhere I am seeking out and trying the opinions of others.

In regards to being a creature of habitat I find there is a time for replicating pleasurable experiences and a time for exploration and dancing with potential disappointment. As my knowledge of beer has progressed along with the development of my palate I’ve pushed the boundaries of my comfort zone outwards. Replicating pleasurable experiences would once have been Guinness or Fat Tire; by breaking out of my habits that zone has increased immensely.

Clever people? I am by-and-large distrustful of clever people.

I study and prepare a bit but also leave myself open to winds of chance. My first GABF was last year and I studied like mad (and drew a little map) to hit some highlights. Ironically I hit my ticklist and loved each and every beer but it was the oddballs that I tried on a whim that stay with me. A peaches and cream beer, the rocky-mountain oyster beer, a beer that was pleasant until you realized it reminded you of fried fish. Now, I wouldn’t buy a case of these but I remember them distinctly as opposed to Sculpin IPA which I noted that I loved but can’t remember anything about.

I find I don’t currently rely on the voices to guide my beer decisions. More often than not I’ll try a beer and form an opinion and check afterwards to see what others have said. When reading the blogs I will make note of certain beers well liked by certain authors and keep an eye out when shopping or drinking. Unfortunately my favorite authors aren’t in the Denver area and often I’ll need to travel to find these beers in decent shape to give them a proper chance. (yes I know, Denver is a horrible place to be in relation to beer).

Bill -

I'm not sure I understand the second question, but as for the rest, answers depend on the situation. If I'm in an unfamiliar town and don't know anything about the beer, sometimes I ask the bartender/server for guidance, and sometimes i order based on what seems like what I want. Sometimes I research ahead of time, sometimes I don't. I was just in Vermont, where i know something about certain breweries based on Internet chatter, so you could say my choices were guided by said chatter -- except when I was at a brewpub and ordered based on what sounded good. Then I went to Connecticut, and drank what my hosts offered me. Then I had a layover in Philadelphia's airport, and remembered the names of breweries that Lew Bryson and Jack Curtin have written about, and ordered accordingly. Loved one brew, didn't like the other. I guess I thank them for bringing the first to my attention, but it's not their fault I didn't like the other one.

I guess in my stomping grounds in IL, I rely on my own judgment, except when I don't -- friends recommend stuff, and new breweries arise, and I'm not immune to press and hype. I replicate pleasing experiences by buying things i like over and over, and I try new things. Really, the answer to your questions (except the confusing "clever people behind the scenes" question) is "Sometimes."

Alan -


Or... buy a chair, sit it in front of the internet or sit with a book and read about good beer then have some. Print off a certificate you make for yourself, too, if that's what you need.

Steve Gates -

A learned opinion can be a valuable asset but it's just a tool, in the end, you have to formulate your own opinions based upon your own experiences and personal tastes. Unfortunately, I am a biased individual, if you can knock down a man sized target from 400 meters with your personal service weapon or know the third point of flight procedure when exiting a C130 at 1000 AGL then I automatically value your opinion on just about anything including what beer to try at my favourite watering hole.

Alan -

Do I have your email Steve?

Alan -

PS: Exactly. And I am we'll aware of my own failings in that regard.

Steve Gates -

I'm not sold on that being a failing, after all, it's human nature to conduct oneself in that regard I think. Don't fight it, embrace it. I would love to discuss the direction your book is going to take, it has the potential to be extremely enlightening I would think. Ontario brewing history is very interesting and guys like Ian, who I dearly appreciate, poured the first pint almost 30 years ago. Can you send me your email address again and perhaps we can engage in some e-chatter.

Alan -