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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Jeff Alworth -

Wouldn't it be nice to have an alternative fest where there almost no categories? Or categories that completely ignored style: by strength, say. Stone and Budweiser could compete against each other in the same group. It would create havoc in the sense that we could not longer rely on style accuracy as a trump card. It would be all sensory evaluation, a far more subjective event. I don't know that it would be better, but as a counterweight, it might at least be interesting.

Bailey -

It's been interesting to read Des De Moor's praise for the rigour of the judging processfrom behind the scenes, and also his suggestion that, overall, it has had a positive effect on the quality of US beer.

From a brewery's point of view, I can see that one huge benefit of winning an award is certification of a basic level of professionalism and competency.

Alan -

But that is a view that does not consider the role or form of judging or the meaning of certification, just that when these things are employed it is done well. An argument on twitter with D is not going to satisfy either. I do like Des's use of ambition, however, a word I rely on more and more. It is a good quality but does lead to certain needs. Put it this way - do you like your pet less if they do not win or even enter the dog show? I wonder, too, how much more the conferences and technical classes benefit more than the awards, more than half of which have to count for not much more than participation.

Disclaimer: never occurred to me to ever choose one beer over another due to a GABF medal.

Bailey -

"Disclaimer: never occurred to me to ever choose one beer over another due to a GABF medal."

Oh, blimey -- nor me.

But when Thornbridge won a couple of awards recently, I did find myself thinking, rather to my surprise, 'Oh, good -- it's not just us that thinks they're brewing very good beer.'

So, instinctively, I must feel that there is some meaning or value in a group of people who are interested in these things, and have some 'expertise', collectively deciding that a given beer is up to snuff.

Alan -

But it's a bit like an award for label design, isn't it. Good for them that the two ounce sample that was judged in a rush by the tired mouths of a few, the same few, pleased someone enough that they got a bronze along with many others. Without understanding the rules and conditions, I do not assume there is value to me. Knowing what I know gives me a sense it must be good fun to participate.

Jeff Alworth -

I know of no argument that convinces me the GABF should be scrapped. On balance, it's a good event with a generally good influence on good beer. I'll even grant that it is the best of the American-focused fests using style guidelines and blind tastings (does anyone care about the World Beer Cup or North American whatever whatever?). But I resist the notion that American-focused fests using style guidelines are the final word. They do one thing well, but they do a bunch of things poorly.

And Alan, your comment about choosing beers because of medals is, I would guess, becoming more common. The GABF, in granting 250 medals a year, has seriously diluted the value of winning. It may be that people new to beer will be impressed in a brewpub to see that a particular beer has won a medal. But the overall value is really declining.

Alan -

I am of much the same opinion. Treat it as a trade show. There is nothing wrong with that. But the day when it or anything was a venue vested with authority is long past. And if they did that and ran with it even with regional expression it might do more to promote good beer than a 5 way tie for bronze ever did.

Oliver Gray -

Alan, thank you for the kind words about my work. I was unsure how many would enter the NAGBW contest, but I'm still very excited to have won the award even if I wasn't drowning in competition. I didn't find the cost of entry to be a major factor; most freelance writers are used to upwards of $50 to cover reader and editor costs in a contest. Given the niche and the quality of the reviewers, $30 seemed like a bargain to me.

Thanks again for helping judge the contest. Hope to meet you in person soon.

Jeff Alworth -

"... and the quality of the reviewers ..."

I also reviewed one category--newspaper and magazine article. I don't blame you if you want to revise the comment.

Alan -

[Now, to be fair, he didn't say what the quality of the reviewers was!]

Glad to have found your writing through the process, Oliver. With luck and a bit more promotion (something I fell down on) more like you will come forward.