I fuss from time to time about lazy journalists who create beer lists or guides without a clue as to what they’re talking about. It does a disservice to the casual beer fan or the person with only mild interest in craft beer or “beer tours” to steer them wrong.
A couple weeks ago, I came across this one:
Top Ten American Beer Cities LINK
My first thought was, “Pretty lame list,” as it’s pretty much just large cities and it’s missing a ton of great metros in favor of some that probably don’t deserve to be on the list. Obviously, several of these cities are relying on “faux craft” brewers as their anchors, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t brewing great beer, it’s just that other cities have a better tradition, more variety and are more renown in the craft brew world.
Then the author informs us that Vermont Pub & Brewery “started” the microbrew craze?? Don’t tell Jack McAuliffe, Ken Grossman, Fritz Maytag, Larry Bell, Patrick & Daniel Conway the Widmers, Paul Shipman and Gordon Bowker, Tom Pastorius, Pete Slosberg, or Jim Koch about this, ’cause they – among many, many others – all started their enterprises before 1988.
Regardless, I loved what the following writer had to say, which is stated much more elequently than my thoughts:
“What a ridiculous list. No Seattle, where there are FIFTY breweries within a 30 mile radius? No Asheville? And no San Diego, the American city that almost all of us who actually work in the beer trade KNOW has more truly excellent breweries than any other, INCLUDING Portland, which should have been second. No Grand Rapids, huh? No Bend, OR, either.
Look, here’s the deal: any fool can put together a list of the ten best anything. But it falls apart when the author is revealed to be someone who – Quoting now – “blabs about anything that matters…whatever will pay the rent”. NOT a beer expert or even someone to whom beer is the central focus of his work. I’m not trying to bust on Costill personally, but if you’re going to do a list, why not just network a little, find someone who has at least SOME reputation as an expert or even a dedicated novice, and ask them to write the thing? And I don’t mean me. Yeah, I’m a beer writer but I have no time to take on anything else. There are smart, motivated people out there who could do this list for you and get it somewhere within the same area code as plausible. This one just isn’t. Having visited nine of the ten cities on this list, I can tell you that six of ’em shouldn’t be anywhere near this list. The ‘Alpha Male of the Group’ should, one would think, count knowledge and acumen among his Alpha skills. Albert Costill is a good writer. Let him stick to the subjects that he’s most involved with and and cares most about. My concern is the health and well-being of the craft beer culture and lists like this, given the credence of a medium-visibility website, give aspiring beer fans a false impression of the American brewing community. How about just stick to the old newspaper axiom: ‘Get it right or get it out of the paper.'”
– Stephen Body · Wine, Beer, and Spirits Reviewer for Seattlepi.com at Freelancer