Many of you in our fair Great Lake State may be aware of MLive’s little ongoing poll. LINK.
MLive is Michigan’s biggest “media group,” a conglomeration of most newspapers not part of the Detroit Free Press & Detroit News joint operation, and reaches across most of the state. Anyway, they’ve been running a series of research columns where a journalist group seeks nominations, then they sample and create a list of the state’s “best” hamburger, breakfast, ice cream and other treats over the past couple years.
Recently, as linked above, they decided to seek the state’s “best brewery.” You can imagine the ensuing nonsense, and get your own taste of it if you read the comments on any of the articles linked from the story above. Thankfully, some comments are being deleted it seems, but many of these commenters are awful, horrible trolls in the worst sense of the word. Mass polls seem to bring out the worst in people sometimes, particularly on a topic such as this where so many folks take pride in “their” local or favorite brew. Often they may have met the brewer or owner of these local places and feel vested in these results. It’s really not that much different than the online “Beer City, USA” polls that have recently been celebrated ’round here. Except this one is sometimes getting nasty, and that’s nothing to celebrate.
The truth is, there is NO “best” brewery. The entire point of the craft industry is that we don’t have to drink the same swill every day, and no beer made for flavor is going to appeal to everyone. Many people, myself included, will love many, many beers and rotate them constantly. Most people don’t eat the exact same food every meal and every day, but can enjoy many favorite meals. Beer is no exception, as there are different days, moods, weather that influences enjoyment of different beers. It’s also a natural product, that isn’t going to be the same every day, every batch, every package. How can one possibly say there’s a “best,” when it will never be exactly the same again?
I always find almost any poll ranking the “best,” whether it be a hamburger, song, shoe or beer, to be completely suspect. By “vote of the masses,” McDonald’s is the best hamburger in the USA, Lady Gaga is the country’s best musician, Nike makes the best shoes and Bud Light (which is still the #1 selling beer in Michigan) is the nation’s best beer. Opinions such as this are like….well, you know.
EDIT: Fred Bueltmann, the “Beervangelist” from New Holland Brewing hits the nail directly on its head with their statement regarding these online “best of” contests. Well done…and complete agreement from here.