I admit it. I love the two main beer ratings websites BeerAdvocate.com and RateBeer.com. Both are fun, informative and offer a terrific forum for learning about and discussing the mutual favorite subject of beloved beers -- as well as the not-so-beloved beers. These are sites that definitely do not subscribe to the idea that "there's no such thing as a bad beer." Truth of the matter is that beer, as with any artisanal product, can be slaughtered. Miserably. Or rise to joyous heights. Whichever direction a brewer goes, RateBeer and BeerAdvocate members are there to dutifully report their findings.
Each site has its own distinct personality. They're almost like two bars just around the corner from each other. Some patrons go to one, the other, or both as their mood takes them, dropping by to see who else is at the bar. Other patrons are quick to whip up the rivalry on a moment's notice. Some shout out as they enter the establishment much as Norm would do as he walked into Cheers, and others prefer to sit off to the side at a small table in the corner and keep to themselves as they contemplate their afternoon's beer.
Over the years, I've become accustom to reading the things that people have to say about our beer. I've learned to just let it flow through. To accept the comments, both positive and negative.
I've always felt that it's our job to decide what it is that we do, and it's the job of consumers (hate to use such a generic term there, but I'm at a loss for a different, more meaningful all-encompassing term) to decide if they like it. What I mean by this is that we don't try to project what a consumer *might* think they want, and then try to do that. It seems that most companies spend a LOT of time doing that with all their market research and such. They try to figure out what people think they want, and then fulfill that "need."
We don't. We do what we do.
In other words, we focus on doing what we do with an eye towards doing it as amazing as we possibly can. As a result, we recognize and accept that the "what we do" isn't going to meet everyone's tastes. And that's quite OK.
That being said, I'm constantly surprised by the people who get angry a bit when they find that they don't like what we do. You know, the "what's up with your menu...can't you have any normal food?" group. I suppose, for them, our answer is 'no.' We often have our housemade kimchee on the menu. Kimchee is something that tens of millions of people eat every day. "Normal," like so many other things, is relative. For me, most people's "normal" equals booooring. And why would we want to do something that we think is boring?
But I, like usual, digress.
If you'd like to check out the myriad of perspectives out there on the Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens, there's a few main places you'll find them:
On BeerAdvocate.com you can find the reviews here.
One RateBeer.com where the reviews are split somewhat confusingly into two different locations for our one location, they can be found here and here. (I like the latter grouping of reviews as the RateBeerians that review us there like us better, but the name of our street is not spelled quite right in that one.)
On Yelp.com, they take us to an even more schizophrenic level by splitting us into three pieces, the beer/food oriented listings here and here, and the (at the time of this writing) one lone review of the Stone Company Store here. (One thing they all have in common, along with most online mapping systems and GPS systems, is that the header in each one suggests that we are located somewhere other than where we actually are.)
The truly amazing ability of the rating sites are that they can reveal the collective consciousness in a way that was previously unavailable. The communication, enthusiasm, and authenticity is amazing. When it comes to beer.
When it comes to a dining experience, the rating systems seem to still be a work in progress. The parameters of rating such a complex thing have not quite seemed to gel, and there are still multiple methods to the madness that haven't perfected the triangulation yet. But hell, a beer you can sit and contemplate and write about a lot easier than you can a dining experience. Beer has just shy of 100 identifiable flavor parameters. Add in colors, smells and packaging to the equation, and an experienced beer aficionado can still get their arms around it.
A restaurant however has countless and untold parameters that come into play. There's no surprise here of course, it simply means that it's even more difficult to gel into universally bite sized parameters.
But it shouldn't stop the trying of course!
To all that have taken the time to post a review on what we do and give us insight --- whether we love it or hate it, whether we think you're brilliantly insightful or a grouchy hack --- all the reviews are appreciated!
Especially the good ones.