April 16, 2012

Dr Slactivist | Or How I Came to Accept the Poll

I woke this morning with an email blog post from the Brew Bros on the Beer City USA poll. Oh dammit, the damn poll. I hate that poll.

Patrick writes,
"Phoenix will be this year’s Beer City USA champion."

There's a Facebook page too wherein several arguments are made as to why Phoenix has a growing beer culture and poised to win. Some of the arguments on beer culture are made by me... It's uncomfortable.

In the 3 years that I've been aware of the Charlie Papazian Beer City USA poll, I've mocked it. It's an internet poll after all--subject to internet shenanigans, foolishly daring to quantify the un-quantifiable.

Who can forget this poll?
Charlie Papazian

It's been a two horse race between Asheville NC with Portland OR and San Diego trading places. Last year, Portland bloggers called in a boycott or encouraged votes for Portland ME. The upshot is that, Asheville is the three-time winning Beer City USA titleholder with the rest of the top 10 not caring all that much. Third place has never breached 10% of the vote. Ft Collins, racked up 210 votes in 2010 despite being home of New Belgium Brewing with it's 300 employees. That spells quite a bit of disinterest from an fairly interested party just an hour north of Boulder. No intended disrespect for New Belgium. More on New Belgium below.

My knock on Asheville and the poll is that scarcely anyone has been to the Top 10 cities in the poll and there are fewer than that I'd trust to make a qualified judgement. I frankly know more about the beers, brewers and culture of St. Louis (3.66% in 2011) or Missoula (2.70% in 2010) than I did Asheville.

This year some of that changed and perhaps this confirms a bit of what Mr Papazian offered after 2009's results were in (my emphasis):
One thing that a poll like this indicates is the degree of beer culture and networks that exist in various areas of the country. It helps to bring to the forefront that beer culture, beer community and beer enthusiasm are relevant forces in the quest for access to better beer. 
In 2012 we saw the announcement of east coast locations for Sierra Nevada and New Belgium to the area surrounding Asheville, so perhaps there is something to the network argument. Papazian explained in last year (my emphasis):
The city is not only behind its small brewers, but behind local business.  I encountered several people at non-brewery restaurants, ticket counters, rental car desks, hotel management and more who were far from being what one might “brand” as beer enthusiasts.  Yet they were very aware of their city’s brewers and what they meant to the people of Asheville.  Some didn’t even drink beer, but loved the idea of hometown small business.
Patrick's comments are right in line with Mr Papazian although he sees Social Media as the battlefront.
What it really comes down to, and I am sure Asheville can back us up on this assess­ment, is that the craft beer com­mu­nity of Asheville bands together and raises aware­ness in order to win the title. 
And yes, dear reader, this is yet another 550 word run up to the point of my story and it it this:
If I put my money where my mouth is, I should use this opportunity to bring to the forefront that beer culture, beer community and beer enthusiasm are relevant forces and make others very aware of their city’s brewers and what they meant to the people

Still, I hate that poll. It reeks of slactivism. I want you to do more than just click on a poll, paste a status on social media and feel as though you've accomplished something. You haven't.

I ask that we do something more tangible. I demand that you do something. I require that we all learn more about our beer culture. And so, through a spirited discussion, Patrick and I arrive at a couple things we's like you to do:

  • Vote in the poll. (We've made the threshold to be nominated, there will be another poll May 1).
  • More importantly tell me or Patrick why we are deserving of Beer City USA. Write a paragraph or two. You can email, comment here or on Facebook for either blog. We'll publish your opinions.
  • I'd like you to contact your Senator and Representative about the Small Brewers Excise Tax Relief bill. Tell me who you called or emailef and the substance of the call. Be prepared to call back and demand more than a boilerplate answer. Do not allow them to withhold an opinion because they do not drink. They vote on a number of issues where they have no expertise or first-hand experience (or the womanly parts in some circumstances).
  • There will be other things between now and May 13. 
Stay Tuned.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Hi Few days ago i put a small article/list about all (I hope) beer brands in Iceland today on my site. How many Icelandic beer brands do you think you can buy in iceland Today ?

    Love and Peace Julius.