Beer Review Web sites - everyone has an opinion, everyone has an ass hole, most should not be seen in public. The internet provides the ultimate vehicle for free speech; it's also a great way for cowardly, uneducated ass holes to anonymously spew on somebody else's hard work.
Don't get me wrong - I know I'm painting this picture with a very wide brush. I know, like, and appreciate the efforts of many members of these sites. The original intention of sites like beeradvocate.com was to educate and promote, (or uhh, advocate?), the appreciation of good beer. This is a value that I share with founders of beeradvocate.com along with many of its members.
The problem that I have with sites like ratebeer.com & pubcrawler.com is that they promote this idea that personal opinion is holy and carries more weight than fact or what I like to call "reality". Ratebeer.com goes so far as to compare themselves and their ratings to Wine Spectator. If you drink you've most likely been exposed to Wine Spectator's ratings for wine in most liquor stores. They are usually the source for those numbers posted on small placards describing wines that the store wants you to try/buy. The difference between the Wine Spectator ratings and those from ratebeer.com is fact vs. opinion. Wine Spectator reviews are written by experts and are written in such a way that they help a consumer make decisions about the wine. Ratebeer.com reviews are pure personal opinion and are often written with no regard to the what the brewer intended or what a person reading the review might be looking for. The problem with this concept that "it's my opinion so I can't be wrong and I can say what I want" is that it serves no purpose except to stroke the ego of the person posting the review. Another huge difference between ratebeer.com or pubcrawler.com and Wine Spectator - Wine Spectator will not publish disparaging reviews of a wine; while these beer related web sites are full of negative opinions and misguiding statements.
So - if I don't like what's posted to these site - I don't have to read them right? Or maybe I should just post my own opinions about beer that I do or don't personally like? That misses the point - I'm not sure why ratebeer.com was established but I know that other sites like beeradvocate.com were established to help promote better beer appreciation and beer knowledge. Beeradvocate.com organizes good beer festivals and events and they offer plenty of good resources for learning about and finding good beer. However, the negative nonsense often posted in ratings and forums on these sites marginalizes them and, to some extent, the beer they want to promote by making them appear to be the domain of masturbatory back room geeks. Do you really believe that you'll get a normal person who is only marginally interested in good beer to support it if they associate it with these chest pounding uber geeks? Nope - it's more comfortable to stick with those hot twins and pretend that one light beer has more flavor than another. Or even worse - turn to an imported mega-brew like Heinie or Leuven's lightest - satisfying their need for something "better" with Europe's Bud.
To quote Jon Stewart "You're hurting America". If you feel that the world really needs to hear your malformed, holy opinion - at least have the balls to post it with your real name so you can be identified. Is an anonymous opinion really an opinion after all?Cheers! Love Dean