7 Comments

  1. Lisa
    April 14, 2018 @ 6:33 am

    As a food blogger, getting the beer game late, I review beer like I do restaurants; everyone’s experience is different and here’s mine.

    Many people in the beer community here in Toronto shy away from posting a negative review in fear of retaliation or not getting free stuff. It’s hard for someone like me to trust any beer review when every single post ends with the words ‘great brew’ or their critique is that it’s too carbonated.

    So many new breweries are emerging and their beer isn’t quite consistent yet much like an experience at a restaurant and it will evolve over time while they try to get their process just right. I have been condemned for reviewing beer this way, but like reviewing restaurants, I have no fear of negative publicity because it’s just my opinion and who am I, really?

    I’m thinking I’ll take a page out of your book and post the beer styles I actually like so my followers understand better why I like or dislike a beer. I don’t review beer styles I don’t like(Calm down on the hops!) or food I don’t like(olives are gross), so if I don’t like something there’s a reason.

    Great post!

    Reply

  2. TableHop Games
    April 11, 2018 @ 8:43 pm

    Excellent post! Well thought out and written. How do you deal with online haters who send you nasty messages when you give poor reviews of their favorite places/beers? As someone who hates conflict, I probably give higher ratings than I should to avoid backlash from haters.

    Reply

    • GT Wharton
      April 11, 2018 @ 11:24 pm

      Thanks for the insightful comment 😉 This is something I am passionate about, so I could write a novel on this topic.

      Businesses or die-hard loyalists who lash out emotionally just end up looking foolish and I ignore them. If anything, their childish demeanor re-enforces the critical review. What is actually bad is when a business seriously tries to undermine a critical review. This is the really nasty stuff.

      Here is my advice in that situation. First, your initial review needs to be honest. If your review exaggerates, omits crucial details, or is misleading; then you are at fault. However, if the review is honest and tells the whole story, then my advice is this: Don’t Be Afraid and Don’t Back Down.

      There’s a very simple game here. Business owners have a major incentive to discredit your critical review and little incentive to praise your positive review. There’s hardly anything in it for them to publicly acknowledge a critical review as having merit. I’ve never seen a brewery on this website say, “Yeah, we messed up.” It’s far easier to say, “You don’t know anything about beer,” or “Your palate is crap.” One I get a lot recently is, “You must have had a bad bottle,” or “Sounds like you found an out-of-code bottle.” I really don’t buy this argument. What, their product is flawless except for some that are flawed? It’s senseless. If I found a bad bottle, then certainly hundreds of others found bad ones too. The only difference is that I’m reviewing it in a public forum. And I’m not saying that my reviews are the truth about a beer. My reviews are my honest opinions. From my perspective, I’m telling a true story. You can believe it or ignore it. But it’s a completely different thing for a business to come in and undermine my story as not being credible.

      This is not too different from today’s landscape of “fake news.” With so much information out there in the marketplace, consumers can make better choices than they have ever been able to in the past. Businesses thrive on the lack of perfect information in the marketplace. For instance, a drug company does not want you to know that a $4,000 pill actually costs $4 to make. So sites like Yelp, TripAdvisor, HealthGrades, Glassdoor, reviews on Facebook, Amazon, and Google Reviews…they add more information from third-parties. This information is vital. Before third-party review sites, usually a consumer would buy a product based on packaging, price, or how well the company markets it. Now we can see if the product really is what it claims to be. This can be great for companies that make good products and bad for companies who make inferior products. Like I said in the article, the end goal is that high-quality reviews should make good businesses more money and bad businesses less money. But since businesses thrive on the lack of perfect information, we are seeing a backlash against this consumer-friendly information. Criticism from professional writers is called into question and dubbed “fake.” When quality journalism is undermined and called fake news, there is a winner and a loser. The winner is the business that should have lost money for selling bad products. The loser is you, the reader and consumer. You don’t know what to believe anymore. The truth is obscured.

      There’s a bigger question here: How should reviewers stand up to being undermined? We must hold on dearly to the truth. We cannot be afraid to tell our story, and we cannot back down when threatened.

      Reply

  3. jen
    April 10, 2018 @ 4:19 pm

    Thanks so much for this post. On social media, I often hem and haw about posting pics of beer I’ve recently tried if I don’t like it. I want to be helpful to others and let them know that I didn’t care for a particular beer for a particular reason but, I also know a lot of hard work went into said beer and in the end, my review of the beer, is just that, my review. Your perspective that not-so-rave reviews also help the brewers encourages me to feel more confident in sharing my perspective; good or bad.

    Reply

  4. ty
    April 10, 2018 @ 10:35 am

    You’ve reviewed over 10,000 beers in 10 years? That’s a lot, man. Like three a day, every day. What constitutes a review and where are you posting them all? Serious question.

    Reply

    • GT Wharton
      April 10, 2018 @ 1:09 pm

      Hi Ty,

      It’s a perpetual joke that has many answers. Consider that the person with the most logged beer ratings/reviews that I know of has over 53,000. That is just the number of unique beers sampled with some sort of text review with a minimum character count. So it could be as simple as “This was good, not great. Amarillo hops didn’t stick out. Probably would not try again.” Technically that is a review. It’s short, but it is enough to be useful to the brewery and to other consumers. Ratebeer and BeerAdvocate used to have this minimum character requirement. Indeed, to get a real number like that on your belt, at least on Ratebeer, you need to actually write something. On Untappd, there is no requirement for writing to get credit for a rating. Without the character requirement, we now have a line that separates a rating from a review. I’ve done well over 10,000 text reviews combined, mostly on Ratebeer and Untappd with a few on BeerAdvocate and most recently here at The Full Pint. Technically with BJCP judging I am reviewing beers, though those are not publicly available and I don’t count those. I don’t know the exact unique count anymore as it isn’t as important to me these days. I’m focused on in-depth reviews, which take a very long time to produce. But to answer your question more directly, those who have very high numbers for the most part travel for beer, attend festivals, and attend monthly tastings to rack up some very high numbers. I used to say my maximum number of beers to sample in a day would be 30. But others will go over 100 in one day. That’s sampling usually 2-4oz pours. The joke is that these “thimble” pours are not enough beer to make a fair review. I agree and disagree with that. I agree that the more of the beer you drink, the more you can write about it. But I disagree in that, if you are a seasoned reviewer, it only takes a few ounces to know if the beer is bad, average, good, or world-class. Most beer out there is not world-class, so having a full glass of it is not necessary. Brewing flaws rear their ugly head quickly. Indeed, if I have to judge 30 beers in one round, I cannot drink the same beer over and over again to get my final impressions. I need to make an assessment with as little liquid as possible so as to continue judging the others in the flight. If a beer is very good, I may come back to it for fun. But I’ve already made an initial assessment. In a judging round, I find that say 8 out of 10 are automatically not in the running for best of show. Those remaining two I will return to as their qualities against each other may be more nuanced.

      I hope that answers your question!

      Reply

  5. Ryan
    April 10, 2018 @ 10:02 am

    As someone who desperately wishes to improve my ability to better taste and describe beer, this was a great read! Thanks for sharing

    Reply

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