In Defense Of Sam
I don't know about you but I love Belgian beers, especially Dubbels and Quads, and when you look back at the centuries of brewing history in Europe while Germany and England were fitting into very tasty specific styles of beers with a limited variety of ingredients, Belgian brewers were throwing practically whatever they could grow into the mash tank, hop kettle, and fermentor. They didn't care about style they cared about brewing something refreshing or hugely flavorful that they liked, it wasn't the political beast beer was in Germany.
So what does that have to do with Sam? He burst onto the craft beer scene as a self made brewer much like Ken Grossman and the others by starting very small and borrowing all the money they could get to continue their dream. These guys all want into heavy debt to do what they love and in return we consumers get fantastic beers to drink, the world is a better place. They should all be treated with the utmost respect not only for their success but for laying it all on the line, baby.
To me, Sam is a lot like those Belgian brewers, he is brewing unique beers not according to style. He's throwing whatever fits his fancy into the kettle and it works, he has remarkable beers brewed with ingredients nobody has used before. And what does he do with that success? He meets with other brewers and does a collaboration beer. He has inspired an entire new movement in the beer industry in America. He has broken out of the standard pale ale, amber ale, IPA, porter, stout and wheat beer selections offered by so many brewpubs for a decade and inspired other breweries to follow his lead. To me, he is the American Trappist of brewers.
Exhortation of Beer Advocate
I have had mixed feelings about Beer Advocate since I became aware of it about 8 years ago. I think, and this is just a guess, that about 25 % of the members give some excellent reviews and I appreciate their taking the time to care. However, there is an element of "occupiers" at Beer Advocate that can be very negative in their ratings if they do not like the beer. It doesn't matter if that beer is an excellent representation of the style, they just give it poor reviews because it feels good to them because they either don't like the style or the brewer has gotten too big, which is why I used the description of occupiers.
This current craziness of judging beers poorly by the success of the brewer fits right into the occupier mold. There is no room for that in our industry. Being a successful brewer that has large sales figures is a great compliment and a great indication that if you try the beer you will enjoy it. Every expansion by a brewer puts him back into debt when he could have stayed small and then we wouldn't be able to enjoy his beer unless we visited his market. And then what would you have done if he stayed small and you liked his beers...you would have whined that you wish he sold his beers where you live, damn hypocritical occupiers. Go to Russian River Brewery and then go home and understand what I mean.
I am asking Beer Advocate members to understand the beer industry when they are making their reviews and to only use their their huge membership's ability to influence others to do so with respect of the people that put it all on the line to bring you the beers you enjoy.
I found a blogger that defended Sam http://www.washingtonbeerblog.com/how-does-brewery-become-overrated/ and I am happy that another person understands the issue. I am surprised that there hasn't been more beer blogs in defense of Sam and attacking an issue that has been a part of the consumer ignorance for so long.