Ben's Beer Blog

A place for all things beer.


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Let’s talk about Untappd

Untappd irritates me.

Sure, there was a time in my life, as there is in most budding beer nerds’ lives, when I wholly embraced all that Untappd had to offer. A crowdsourced collection of tasting notes at my finger tips, a way to track beers that I tried, and even a built in humble-brag system that lets me not only tell people what cool beer I was drinking in a cool bar but also alert all my social media followers that I’ve just earned a badge for surpassing a benchmark like 25 IPAs consumed in one month. It was fun. It was engaging. It was well designed.

But now I think it might be one of the worst things to happen to beer drinking since Adolphus Busch decided he wanted to shag Lilly Anheuser.

Here’s how I came to this conclusion. First, on crowdsourcing tasting notes: I’ve realized I don’t actually care what most people think about a given beer. On the one hand, Untappd is great in that it democratically allows everyone to provide feedback about a beer, and yeah! power to the people.  But on the other hand, who cares about people? Untappd makes every neckbeard with a smartphone think he or she is Michael fucking Jackson. Do I really give a shit that “Jeff T.” thinks Bellwoods Brewery’s Farmhouse Classic “has a weird tangyness” or that “Kyle M.” thinks Instigator IPA from Indie Alehouse is “Really good”? No. No I do not. Untappd is the Yelp of beer, but lazier. If I’m looking for a good restaurant, I don’t want to know that John from Schenectedy gave it one star because he was seated under a drafty vent, I want to know what an actual fucking restaurant critic has to say.

Beer is the same way, and I’m sorry for being snobby here, but most people don’t know a cream ale from a California common, so why the fuck would we want an app that lets all of the people drinking beer (all of them!) share their opinions directly with the world? Continue reading


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Old Man Johnson IPA is coming to Bryden’s

Perhaps the beer should have been called "Dork in a sweatshirt"

Perhaps the beer should have been called “Dork in a sweatshirt”

A month ago, I contacted the folks at Great Lakes Brewery to see if I might come out to do little profile and photo spread for blogTO (a post that, aptly, ended up being called “Behind the scenes at Great Lakes Brewery“). When I called, the always congenial Troy Burtch, GLB’s resident social media dude and sales rep, said “Why don’t you come out and brew a collaborative beer with Lackey?” As you can imagine, my answer was something along the lines of “Fuck yes.”

And so on a rainy Friday last month, I got the opportunity to brew a beer with Mike Lackey, a guy who’s been making beer for over 20 years and who’s responsible for some of my favourite local options of the past little while. And when I say “brew a beer with” I mostly mean “added the stuff he told me to add then manned the brew kettle while he disappeared and reappeared sporadically to make sure I didn’t hurt myself/burn the place down.” Continue reading