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There's a newer proposal gaining some amount of traction on our Area 51 site:

Beer - Proposed Q&A site for beer aficionados and collectors

The focus is significantly different from this one, in that it is aimed more at beer enthusiasts whose primary interest is not in brewing their own; identifying, choosing, storing, and serving beer are highlighted as tasks where this site would find a ready audience, along with perhaps some questions on the history and memorabilia attached to brewing. In my opinion, it fills a gap between this site and Seasoned Advice...

That said, there is certain to be some amount of overlap. Homebrewers often fall into the same group of experts that one would hope would flock to such a site; indeed, it's not hard to find questions here (asked from the perspective of a brewer) whose answers would satisfy likely questions on such an "appreciation" site. Indeed, appreciation has been listed in the list of allowed topics here for quite some time - though obviously in practice this is still geared toward brewers.

If you can spare a few minutes, look over the definition and discussions for Beer. And let me know,

  • Would this be a site you'd be interested in participating on?
  • Would it be appropriate to expand the scope of this site to cover the topics envisioned in that proposal?
  • Would the existence of two separate beer-focused sites within Stack Exchange present a problem for the folks here?

For now, we're letting the proposal continue to collect commitments, as it isn't clearly subsumed by any existing site. However, I'm hoping to solicit the input of the good folks here before it reaches the threshold for launch.

Cheers,

  • sommelier vs brewer, with overlap of course. :) – Kortuk Oct 11 '13 at 4:38
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    Personally, I would not use the site. Sites like Beer Advocate and Ratebeer, despite their popularity, have gotten a reputation as a repository of biased opinions and know nothing advice. In order for a similar site here to be successful, it would not only have to distinguish itself from the existing sites, but also be able to deal with those kinds of issues. – Denny Conn Oct 11 '13 at 15:07
  • @DennyConn What about issues like what you discuss for BJCP? I did not think that would all fly here, I could ask about root cause of a flaw, but asking about comparison of how German and Bohemian Pilsners differ? – Kortuk Oct 11 '13 at 22:42
  • @Kortuk - that's a good point. Maybe the issue lies in how we structure, define, and moderate a site like this. – Denny Conn Oct 12 '13 at 16:03
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    I think that the Alcoholic Beverages would be a better site than something as focused as Beer, from a consumer point of view. – object88 Oct 15 '13 at 23:09
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    I'm not sure about lumping all alcoholic beverages together - appreciation of wine, mead, beer, vodka, whiskey are quite different. – mdma Oct 18 '13 at 14:48
  • One could say that the production of wine and beer are just as different as the consumption of wine and beer. But production of both are in-scope here. – object88 Oct 18 '13 at 19:31
  • I agree, and would say that we should ideally split this site to exclude wine, mead etc. Neither wine nor mead is brewed so the name homebrewing SE is a misnomer if we really should cover these. This is still a beta site so I hope there is room to shift the definition. My experience is that non-beer related questions have far fewer answers than those that are beer related - I'm sure those experts exist that could answer, but they have not found this site yet. A site like "winemakers" or "vinters" would better suit wine producers, and "meadery" or similar for mead makers. – mdma Oct 18 '13 at 21:48
  • Not to be argumentative, but what objective aspects of appreciation are different between various forms of alcohol? Perhaps I'm missing something. :) – object88 Oct 21 '13 at 22:25
  • Note that this is now live: Beer, Wine & Spirits – Shog9 Feb 6 '14 at 4:41
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One way it helped me see the difference between the two sites was to consider this HB site about the production of beer, while the other site is about the consumption of beer, and beer-related artifacts.

As noted, there will be some overlap, since homebrewers are both producers and consumers of beer. E.g. discussion of beer storage temperature and how long a beer lasts once bottled, would be relevant to both sites, although on the homebrewing site, the discussion would also include typical homebrewing equipment, such as corny kegs, which aren't used much outside of homebrewing and rarely encountered by the typical beer consumer.

One question on the proposed site, "How much of an impact does the water (minerals/quality/distilled) have on a beer?" struck me as possibly off-topic for that site, since it's mainly a production issue - a consumer cannot change the water used to brew the beer, and the impact of water and water chemistry in brewing is heavily discussed here since it is primarily relevant to brewers and not consumers. (Although an understanding of why breweries produce the beer they do because of the nature of the local water may be considered beer appreciation and worthy of mention on the proposed site, but any advanced treatment of the subject should be served by this site.)

Beer styles are occasionally discussed here, but typically from the perspective of brewing that style (e.g. process+recipe). Visitors are assumed to be aware of the BJCP or similar style guidelines as well as the basic differences between an ale and a lager. Yet, beer styles is very pertinent to beer appreciation and would be a good topic on the proposed site. Discussions of different breweries, beer history, nomenclature are also off topic here, but these also would be great questions on the proposed site.

Given that focus of the two sites is mostly distinct, I would keep the two sites separate. I would certainly contribute to the new site where relevant.

  • Perhaps beer appreciation should be removed from this site's scope? Beer appreciation is seldom discussed on this site and would make the distinction between both sites even clearer. – mdma Oct 18 '13 at 15:23
  • I think folks on the other site might like to 'grok' production. They don't know how to brew beer, but they know something about the water, and maybe something else about the process that might be a sign of quality. They might not know how to make it, but they can talk about some parts of how it's made. I think the context will really set both apart. – Tim Post Oct 18 '13 at 17:06
  • I agree Tim. The same occurred to me. Beer enthusiasts may not need to get into the minutae of brewing, but some understanding of the process is of course important. I've given beer presentations to non-brewing beer consumers, and some of the basics I covered was an overview of the brewing process, ingredients and difference between lager and ale. This site assumes most of that as understood, but I can say that I didn't know it before being a brewer, yet would have liked to know it as a beer consumer. As you say, the context and audience sets it apart. – mdma Oct 18 '13 at 20:19
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It seems to me that the entire premise of beer appreciation is subjective and therefore be very difficult to pose objective questions about. Stack Exchange is about objective facts, so I think this is a non-starter.

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I don't think that there should be a cross-pollination between audiences for consumption and production. I think that many beer enthusiasts' eyes will glaze over after reading a few pages about proper sanitation, varieties of yeast, and hopping techniques. When I come to Homebrew, that's exactly what I'm looking for, and I don't want to wade past questions asking what a Kolshbier is. I believe that it would dilute the value for both audiences.

There is some overlap, but I daresay that the reasons are different. If a consumer wants to know what hops are in Beer X, I would wager its so that they can find (consume) more beers with that flavor profile. If a producer want to know what hops are in Beer X, I would again wager that it's so that he or she re-create that flavor profile. The initial discussion is the same, but the ultimate direction is different.

I looked at the proposal (now past definition and into commitment), and I looked at another site in definition: Alcoholic Beverages. The Alcoholic Beverages SE addresses everything that Beer would, plus the same for any other type of alcohol (wine, spirits, cocktails, etc.) Ultimately, I'm backing Alcoholic Beverages, and the reasons come down to objectivity and quantity.

I would posit that a significant portion of consumption is subjective, which not the purpose of SE. The community seeks to answer objective, unique questions. I think that when it comes to consumption, there will be far fewer objective questions, i.e. more "Which beer goes best with grilled octopus" than "How long can I reasonably store a bottle of Fifty-Fifty Eclipse". Obviously, subjective questions would get moderated out, but the upshot is that there's less quality content, and less quality content means less usage.

So if there's less content, then one way to bring up quantity is to broaden the subject matter. If you allow not just "Does a waxed beer bottle retain freshness better than a capped bottle", but also "Does a screwcap wine bottle indicate a lesser aging capacity than a corked one", then your content capacity expands greatly. In addition, most alcohol enthusiasts that I know are not single-minded; they will happily partake in a variety of beverages. Maybe not all, but almost certainly not just one type.

So I do back the idea of a consumer-driven SE, just one with a somewhat different scope.

Welp, this answer ended up being longer than I thought it would... :)

  • So you think all alcoholic beverages should be consumed...er subsumed...under one site? Seems strange since often the only thing they have in common is alcohol. – mdma Oct 18 '13 at 20:21
  • Yep. Aspects of consumption include acquisition, storage, repercussions, preparation, societal views... While the details may be different, I think that for the most part these aspects aren't awfully dissimilar. (A beer snob isn't that far removed from a wine snob.) And then there's significant overlap once you start talking about mixology. – object88 Oct 18 '13 at 22:33
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    I'm afraid disagree - I can evaluate beer, but I have far less knowledge to bring to wine evaluation, let alone whiskey or other beverages. The only common element is alcohol, the remainder of the beverage, the way it tastes and is evaluated, stored, served, consumed etc. are distinct. The additional factors you mention, while they are common, you say yourself that the details will be different. E.g. wine storage and aging is very much different from beer storage and aging, with greater differences than overlap. – mdma Nov 3 '13 at 22:05
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I came here to post an answer that I soon realized Denny had already addressed with his comment:

Personally, I would not use the site. Sites like Beer Advocate and Ratebeer,
despite their popularity, have gotten a reputation as a repository of biased 
opinions and know nothing advice. In order for a similar site here to be 
successful, it would not only have to distinguish itself from the existing sites, 
but also be able to deal with those kinds of issues. –  Denny Conn♦ Oct 11 at 15:07

It's one thing to be enthusiastic and optimistic about an idea, or a wish; it's another to have the foresight, based on a commanding grip on the reality of the relevant community, to see that the idea or wish will probably succeed or fail.

In his comment, Denny shows us how the idea in question could succeed and fail, with a warning that it could very easily fail. Subjectively, I agree with his assessment and I know many others (who don't post on this site) who feel the exact same way.

This Homebrew Stack Exchange is a small drop in the bucket when compared to other forums, even though we know that Stack Exchange sites are the hot trend in Q&A, these days. The homebrew community, itself, is just more of a "discussion forum" type of community, I suppose.

Beer Advocate and Ratebeer are trash in our streets. Please don't contribute to polluting this community with another site that represents a great ideal but, in reality, produces no real results.

  • Regardless of whether or not we allow that proposal to launch into private (or public) beta, whether we allow it to exist long-term will depend heavily on whether or not it actually produces something of lasting value. See: No Artificial Intelligence and When a Site Grows Quiet. – Shog9 Nov 4 '13 at 19:03
  • Good deal. I think the point (and I think you get it) was that there are still many beer thinkers who feel Ratebeer and BeerAdvocate are producing lasting value, and we don't want these people to become a majority. Of course, I also agree with mdma's thoughts on beer needing distinct sites from wine, etc.; I just think there is a large amount of "pollution" in the beer community, and further that the beer community is easily polluted. – Greg M. Krsak Nov 4 '13 at 19:29
  • The real test for the site will be: is this able to produce something of higher value than what's already out there on The 'Net. That's definitely not an easy (or particularly objective) test, but it's probably the most important one. FWIW: This site could use a few more self-critical members... – Shog9 Nov 4 '13 at 19:31
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I am not sure having a SE site devoted to consumption of alcoholic beverages, whether it is covers a narrow or broad range of beverages, is adding something to the overall community of drinkers that does not already exist. RateBeer and BeerAdvocate may be "trash", but they are wildly popular, as is the Untappd app. Reddit has subreddits devoted to beer appreciation and beer trading, as well as a reputation and voting mechanism. I am concerned that AlcoholicBeverages.SE (or whatever it is called) is just going to be a "me too" site with little traffic. In addition, moderating a forum where the answers range from fairly subjective to totally subjective is going to be a nightmare. Merely defining what is on-topic and off-topic seems fraught with difficulty. I will bet you dollars to dnoughnuts that whoever ends up moderating the site is going to end up turning off a large percentage of users who disagree with the moderator's opinions and decisions.

Homebrewing.SE has the advantage that, although home brewing allows for a lot of personal style, brewing is a fairly technical endeavor with a lot of scientific and physical underpinning, most of which can be tested somewhat empirically if you choose to do so. In fact, at the craft brewer scale and beyond, beer production is mostly an industrial, distribution, and marketing endeavor, rather than an artisanal undertaking like it is when you are closer to the home brew or brew pub scale.

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