April 3, 2013

Hey Chow Bella, Let's Avert the Slow Motion Disaster That Was Last Year.

Hey remember last Spring when you, the Phoenix New Times Chow Bella Blog, created a 100 Tastemakers list and posted a new entry every day leading up to their "Best Of" picks?

That's coming up again for you. I have some advice.

I'm probably the only freak who followed day-by-day to see who from the beer world would be on that list. I've held on to my disappointment in you for a year.

Here is that complete list for anyone interested but let me save my readers some trouble. There were no beer people on the list or at least their beer side was not acknowledged (more on that later). Disclaimer: I have a few friends on the list, I happen to agree with many of the choices. I was happy to learn about the folks that I do not know. Little did I know it, but The Tastemakers list was a sign of disaster to come.

You can make the argument that it's a food blog. Then why have folks on it where wine figure so prominently in their background and no beer personalities? Why have two 2 mixologists and ignore that there are some 35 breweries in the state? Arizona has breweries that have won Great American Beer Fest and World Beer Cup Medals. Our breweries employ 1600 workers and are part of an industry that has many more thousand beer-centric front line professionals. Surely there is room for a brewer, distributor professional or a Cicerone server on that list of 100.  The beer community does beer dinners you know. They collaborate with chefs. Some of them are homebrewers. You could mention that.

Chow Bella, don't do this for me. Don't do this for your beer friends or for any other reason than this--your beer credibility sucks and you need to do something about it.

Bella, you have a blind spot and you don't even know it. The Tastemakers list was the tell that you're over your head. In June, you listed Cartel's Jason Silberschlag and we couldn't be happier. Except this... at the time of your writing, Jason was hip deep OPENING A BREWERY and YOU DIDN'T MENTION IT. In July we noticed, that you eliminated some beer categories from the popular vote. All that did was encourage folks to nominate breweries for Best Sports Bar and so on. See, people (readers and ad-clickers) that take part in you poll like beer.

Bella, you have a Certified Cicerone on your staff. He is your best beer resource is he is relegated to the sidelines. All that you have your Cicerone do is beer reviews. Did you know that a core discipline of a Cicerone is to talk about food and beer pairings? Beer and food pairings in restaurants, imagine! See how you could work that into your blog? He's not going to make some of the rookie mistakes I've seen your other writers make. Maybe you should let him edit a story if it involves beer. Maybe if a place features beer, wine and cocktails, you should ask your reviewers to reflect on all of the beverages and not just cocktails.

That your Cicerone works at a beer bar isn't going to bias his opinions on restaurants. I've heard this is your concern--a conflict of interest. You should note that his place of business does not even serve food. Perhaps you're afraid he'll do what tastemakers do and challenge the ancient thinking on beer and dining. Maybe he'll write about the crappy beer list at one of your favorite places. (You know it's crappy too.) Maybe you're going for hipster thing wherein you're so cool you have a beer guy but you don't even acknowledge beer exists in restaurants. That's for you to work out I guess. Alas, you are not alone when it comes to misrepresenting beer. I'll give you some credit. I think the Republic is just lazy.

Bella, you need to do this for you or you'll end up handing out another brewing award to a place that doesn't actually brew beer. You put those business owners in a horrible position of having to accept an award they knew was the  result of your willful igonorance.

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