Brandon Hernández is a Reader contributor. See staff page for published articles.
Have heard very good things about Double Shaka but never seem to see it on tap. Guess I will keep looking...I tried Mucho Aloha HPA from a bottle, but found it so cloying and sweet I had to pour it out and get an Alesmith X. Of course, everything is subjective in tastes, so I look forward to trying some of the other Butcher's beers soon.
For the people clamoring for transparency, it pretty much is laid out in the Bio that is one click away from any of his articles:
What would you suggest is better? A footnote on every article stating his full time job?
I don't think it makes much of a difference, anyway. Stone, Green Flash, Ballast Point - they have all gotten big enough that there is little Brandon could say either way that would make a difference. I don't think he's got a beef with any of the smaller places, so I generally take reports at face value.
I do think he's been a bit gun shy since Wet-n-Reckless Gate, though, because I've not seen a lot of "this beer wasn't good at all" reports. I think that is only part of the problem, though. In my opinion, it isn't that there is a lot of bad beer (drain pour stuff), but that there is a lot of mediocre beer.
The beer blogging/journalism industry is the winner here. This discussion Brandon has jump started is important. I don't agree with all of his assertions but appreciate he is entitled to his opinion. I do find the questioning of his transparency a little off base, he mentions his employment often and his bio clearly states it as well. Personally, I invited him to be a judge of the Sore Eye Cup, he denied because Stone was nominated, showing his integrity. I understand this article stirs the pot but I also believe he did that intentionally. Thank you, Brandon, for pushing this issue to public forefront and evoking passionate responses. That's why we all write about craft beer, passion and enjoyment of great beer, right?
From the bio: " communications specialist for Stone Brewing Co." So even working at a corporate office precludes one from having an opinion that many San Diego breweries produce a product that is lackluster at best (according to those above.) Stone is a major distributor of craft beer in SoCal. Brandon giving realistic reviews could hurt them more in distribution rights than boost their own sales, but since he doesn't even review Stone; oops! That impropriety just went out the window. Keep up the great work Brandon, we need the real scoop out here on the streets.
Those who write write nothing unless it can be positive do readers a huge disservice. They leave readers with no way to know why a particular brewery goes unmentioned. Does it have problems? Is it just off the writer's mental geography? Are the owners not as savvy about grabbing the writer's attention?
it should be clear to readers that an unmentioned place is only a place the writer has yet to visit.
Stop acting so personally attacked. It was a general statement about amateurish blogging, it's not necessarily news that their standards (of both beer and editing) are lowered.
Brandon's writings span several high profile magazines and encompasses more than one industry. It is because of his style of writing and hard work that he is gainfully employed. A simple beer blogger's credentials/integrity pale in comparison. Don't think he'll have to worry about finding work, but thanks for caring.
Great read, lengthy but necessary to point out certain observations of the seemingly saturated and partial SD craft beer scene.
There's literally nothing wrong with pointing out flaws in ANYTHING. To those up in arms over expressing negative opinions. You forget that Brandon is a journalist, and a critic, so his JOB is to analytically dissect the food/drink he consumes and point out their details. He's not saying to use terms like 'trash', 'swill', or 'piss', those are only used by the sheep-like elitists who are irrelevant to this debate. This is about the craft beer industry, which many say is a big friendly community.
Believe it or not, sometimes you need critical input from your family/customers to address certain issues. (like quality or consistency). It's not necessarily a bad thing. Whether or not they address them is another issue. (Which to that I have to say, the market will eat you alive) But at the end of the day it matters not. Those people who follow reviews will continue to rely on them, while others who prefer to try it themselves will go with their gut.
It's for the establishment of a consensus, from a crowd of experts, as opposed to your average beer enthusiast who is just happy to be drinking locally. It adds more credence to the review, unlike an amateurish singular blog from a person that couldn't say anything bad about beer even if it was legitimately bad. If people claim the local beer scene is great and supportive, they should have no problem in addressing complaints about quality. Mr. Hernandez's piece really is needed in a time like this.
There seems to be a lot of unnecessary and undeserved hate here. Reading this article as an outsider, someone who's a mere consumer of craft beer and not a blogger, reviewer, or even a communications specialist for Stone, I see nothing but wisdom. Brandon seems to be encouraging people to be honest in their reporting, rather than supporting a "hey, it's better than Budweiser!" ethos.
Having read Brandon's blogs for the past year, I rarely see him negatively review any brewery or beer. He seems to adhere to the exact suggestion in one of the comments above to discuss the good experiences he has at particular breweries, rather than accentuating any subpar tastes. If anything, I'd chide him about not being honest enough himself! I've noted that even after panning a brewery, he is willing to return and give them another chance. I can think of one fledgling brewery at which his experiences matched my own, with the first taster flight being so unimpressive that it took about a year for me to have any desire to return. And that brewery had improved markedly, just as Brandon suggested in a follow-up of his own. When he reviews individual beers, those reviews seem to highlight his personal favorites rather than new or otherwise unfamiliar ones.
I also do not see any problem with his employment at Stone. That is common knowledge for anybody who follows him, and he does steer away from reviewing their products outside of Stone Brewing fora. So what is the problem? Stone has a reputation for being supportive of the local microbrewing industry, a reputation that seems to be important to the company.
How about we lay off the guy here and get into the nitty-gritty of the conversation he is clearly trying to elicit? After all, if you think a bad review of a beer or brewery by Brandon or any blogger, reviewer, or communications specialist for Stone is going to prevent a taste or visit by this craft beer consumer, well, then you think you're entirely more important than you actually are.
This is why Grantville is now such a viable base for the new breweries: Governor Brown’s termination of redevelopment in 2011. Up until then Grantville was a redevelopment project area. With this designation came the potential for the Redevelopment Agency to seize business properties via eminent domain for any reason. Since redevelopment was stopped, we have seen many new businesses come into Grantville, not just the breweries. It seems that the uncertainty of redevelopment actually discouraged businesses from investing in Grantville.
And think about it. Grantville is the perfect place for breweries. There are plenty of buildings designed with light-industrial purposes in mind. Grantville is also centrally located at the confluence of I-8, I-15, Friars Road, Mission Gorge and Fairmount. What better location for an industry with distribution in mind.
Anyway, this reminds me: need to get a growler from Groundswell.
You didn't; it was in Eater San Diego:
Nice to have fans, isn't it? But they are wrong - you did have an update, in that they are now shooting to open in the summer. Much slower than the original plan, but this seems more solid because they actually have construction company doing work in there now.
Just what the internet needs, another snarky anonymous commenter. Outstanding, Joe!
Well-written article. I think the key is transparency. As long as the relationships between the sponsors/advertisers and the event is honestly stated then no one should have any serious issues with a "crafty" brand supporting a craft beer event. It takes more money than people realize to run events, and most mid to small craft breweries simply can't afford to bear those costs alone. Off the top if my head, I can think of fees for permits, insurance (esp. costly with alcohol being served), security, trash/recycling infrastructure, portable toilets, etc. No need to turn down money from those that are willing to pay, so long as it's in the open.
Right on man, glad you do what you do, whoever's ultimately paying for it. Rare to get these kinds of insights into any industry, let alone the important and delicious ones.
It's a great list. Thanks.
Love than benchmark table beer is on the list. Loving that session beers are the next thing in SD...
In case it wasn't obvious, the statement that Ballast Point would benefit from the overflow of Reckless Brewing was meant to be ironic. Ballast Point is a wonderful place and does tons of business already. I think we will complement each other well. Hopefully I'll be open in April.
Here now, I thought this was about sea urchins.