I'm Todd Alström, Founder of BeerAdvocate, Ask Me Anything.

Discussion in 'Ask Me Anything' started by Todd, Apr 9, 2020.

  1. Todd

    Todd Founder (5,981) Aug 23, 1996 California
    Staff Moderator Fest Crew Society

    If I'm going to reboot this forum, I might as well kick it off.

    For those who don't know me, I founded BeerAdvocate (BA) with my brother @Jason back in 1996. It was called BrewGuide back then, less than one percent of the world was online, and it was just the two of us in East Boston publishing our beer reviews using a shell script on my Linux box that pushed content over a dial-up modem. Soon after we added a forum where some of the first beer trades occurred, and then in 2000 we changed the name to BeerAdvocate and opened up reviewing to everyone.

    Today, BA is the go-to resource for millions of users each month, the benchmark for beer reviews, the oldest, largest, and most active beer forum, and host of over 70 world-class beer fests. We've also scribed about beer for numerous publications, published our own print magazine for over a decade, and once had an app.

    And, ICYMI, BeerAdvocate recently joined the Next Glass family. Despite our struggles before this and everything going on now, I remain optimistic for the future. Not only for BeerAdvocate, but the beer industry as a whole. We'll get through this pandemic together and come out the other side stronger.

    In the meantime, ask me anything...
     
  2. beaulabauve

    beaulabauve Disciple (363) Aug 5, 2011 Louisiana

    Just want to say thank you!
     
  3. Peach63

    Peach63 Devotee (430) Jul 17, 2019 New York
    Society

    Do you or your brother by any chance home brew?
     
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  4. Todd

    Todd Founder (5,981) Aug 23, 1996 California
    Staff Moderator Fest Crew Society

    I wouldn't be here today if it wasn't for our users, so thank you.
     
    hottenot, cfh64, StonyB and 15 others like this.
  5. jhavs

    jhavs Poo-Bah (1,901) Apr 16, 2015 New Hampshire
    Society Trader

    Are there any planned updates, added advantages or changes to Beer Advocate that you are able/willing to share that are a result of joining with Next Glass and the addition of resources?
     
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  6. Todd

    Todd Founder (5,981) Aug 23, 1996 California
    Staff Moderator Fest Crew Society

    Yep. Our first batch was in the mid-80s. It was a skull splitting 14% Brown Ale that we dumped a ton of sugar into. Years later I'd pick it up again when I lived in England using kits from Boots, then I brewed countless all-grain batches when I moved to East Boston. Jason was living next door, so we often brewed together, and the notes we took inspired the creation of BA.

    I've also brewed quite a few production batches over the years and graduated from the American Brewers Guild in 2005.
     
  7. Todd

    Todd Founder (5,981) Aug 23, 1996 California
    Staff Moderator Fest Crew Society

    Honestly, we haven't even begun to explore the opportunities due to the pandemic. Like everyone else in the industry, our focus has been on getting through these challenging times and finding ways that we can help the industry that we all love.

    That said, we recently migrated the site under the same hosting infrastructure as Untappd. This will ultimately make collaborating and sharing resources easier.

    There's also some beer matching going on. The idea here is that the two platforms would share a common beer and brewery database vs. trying to maintain two separate ones.
     
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  8. jhavs

    jhavs Poo-Bah (1,901) Apr 16, 2015 New Hampshire
    Society Trader

    Thanks! Makes perfect sense in the current situation. I'm excited to see the progression.
     
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  9. vdoz3

    vdoz3 Initiate (101) Feb 25, 2009 Vermont
    Trader

    What inspired the shaved head?
    Any words of inspiration for my brother (who just shaved his head)?
     
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  10. DIM

    DIM Poo-Bah (2,785) Sep 28, 2006 Pennsylvania
    Society

    What role do you see BA/Untapped having in helping the craft beer industry recover?
     
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  11. JayORear

    JayORear Meyvn (1,186) Feb 22, 2012 New York
    Society Trader

    Any chance the new infrastructure will be able to handle direct photo-hosting?
     
  12. Ranbot

    Ranbot Defender (634) Nov 27, 2006 Pennsylvania

    @Todd, Can you explain your thoughts on the NEIPA and how/why they changed over the years? I remember you leaving some pretty scathing reviews and comments about the early NEIPAs from Treehouse, Trillium, etc. but I think they were scrubbed from the site and you seem to have softened/changed your view. Or maybe you haven't, but keep your opinions more private to not upset colleagues, partners, or site users. Care to elaborate?

    FWIW, this isn't intended as a "gotcha" question. I personally appreciated your contrary opinion to the hype. You've seen a lot of beer trends come and go over the years and I'm honestly curious how you evolved on this one.
     
  13. bwarner2015

    bwarner2015 Initiate (94) Mar 25, 2016 Connecticut

    Thanks for all you do to keep BA as great as it is!
    Question: Heady Topper is listed as a NEIPA on BA. Do you agree with this categorization?
     
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  14. Todd

    Todd Founder (5,981) Aug 23, 1996 California
    Staff Moderator Fest Crew Society

    The future was showing, so in the late 90s I started to cut my one hair with clippers on a regular basis. Eventually I just start shaving my head with a razor.
    Moisturize, use sunscreen, and never let anyone rub your dome unless it's wanted.
     
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  15. FBarber

    FBarber Poo-Bah (3,270) Mar 5, 2016 Illinois
    Society Trader

    Todd, having been intimately involved with the craft beer scene since 1996, what is your favorite development in the industry since that time and what is your least favorite development in the industry since that time?
     
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  16. Todd

    Todd Founder (5,981) Aug 23, 1996 California
    Staff Moderator Fest Crew Society

    I don't have any specifics to share at this time, but ways that we can help the beer industry recover is something that I'm personally exploring with the team and other organizations.
     
    hottenot, Bitterbill, Premo88 and 4 others like this.
  17. Todd

    Todd Founder (5,981) Aug 23, 1996 California
    Staff Moderator Fest Crew Society

    As mentioned, we haven't even begun to explore features like this. That said, we basically supported this with the beta app, so there's definitely a good chance.
     
    Bitterbill, KRug, russpowell and 8 others like this.
  18. Todd

    Todd Founder (5,981) Aug 23, 1996 California
    Staff Moderator Fest Crew Society

    I've had some incredible examples of the style, but most are mediocre at best. I could say this about any style though. As for my thoughts changing over the years, read: Turbid Times (2014) and then It's Official: New England India Pale Ale Is a Style (2017).
    That was Jason, not me.
    I'm not concerned if someone gets upset about my views about a beer style, and getting upset about something so unimportant is silly AF.
     
  19. Todd

    Todd Founder (5,981) Aug 23, 1996 California
    Staff Moderator Fest Crew Society

    It's more of a DNEIPA, but I agree. Heady Topper has been around long before the modern NEIPA was established as a style, but if the style was around when the beer was added in 2004...the beer probably would've been tagged as an NEIPA then, too.
     
  20. MuleHopKickin

    MuleHopKickin Initiate (83) Jan 8, 2010 New Jersey

    Hey Todd, I was just talking with some buddies that all hit the Extreme Beer Festival a few years back and we were recalling what a great time that was! I remember meeting you at Dogfish Head in Rohobeth Beach where you and Sam were brewing up the batch for that upcoming EBF. Raising a glass to post Covid beer festivals and really hoping Belgian Fest makes a return, caught one up in Portland a few years back, that was anther great time! Cheers!
     
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  21. pants678

    pants678 Champion (830) Jan 26, 2009 California

    Style's a huge factor but in general which do you like more: Citra or Galaxy?
     
  22. Todd

    Todd Founder (5,981) Aug 23, 1996 California
    Staff Moderator Fest Crew Society

    Favorite: We have more options than ever before and we're spoiled with access. I can walk to The Propagator (Firestone Walker) here in Marina del Rey and order some world-class beers or have beers delivered in under an hour if I'm feeling lazy. It's ridiculously awesome.

    Least Favorite: Because we have more options than ever before, we also have more mediocrity than ever before. Across the board, quality is still a major issue within the industry.
     
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  23. Todd

    Todd Founder (5,981) Aug 23, 1996 California
    Staff Moderator Fest Crew Society

    Thanks for the support! Looking forward to the day that we can host fests again. In the meantime, I'll raise my next beer in your general direction. :beers:
     
  24. vdoz3

    vdoz3 Initiate (101) Feb 25, 2009 Vermont
    Trader

    Hahaha thanks!
     
  25. Todd

    Todd Founder (5,981) Aug 23, 1996 California
    Staff Moderator Fest Crew Society

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  26. thebeers

    thebeers Poo-Bah (2,977) Sep 10, 2014 Pennsylvania
    Society Trader

    How much did BeerAdvocate sell for?
     
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  27. PapaGoose03

    PapaGoose03 Poo-Bah (2,686) May 30, 2005 Michigan
    Society

    Hi, Todd. What was the beer that produced the first review that you did on the original BA site? Was it a favorite at the time, or were you trying everything you could in the learning process and it happened to be the first for posterity?
     
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  28. Todd

    Todd Founder (5,981) Aug 23, 1996 California
    Staff Moderator Fest Crew Society

    I won't be discussing the details.
     
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  29. Todd

    Todd Founder (5,981) Aug 23, 1996 California
    Staff Moderator Fest Crew Society

    Berkshire Brewing Company's Steel Rail Pale Ale, and here's the review: https://www.beeradvocate.com/beer/profile/33/93/?ba=Todd#review
    I haven't had it in years, but it was definitely a favorite at the time.
     
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  30. officerbill

    officerbill Devotee (485) Feb 9, 2019 New York
    Society Trader

    Thank you for BA. It has truly changed how I think about and drink beer.

    Does this mean merged beer reviews & ratings?
     
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  31. Todd

    Todd Founder (5,981) Aug 23, 1996 California
    Staff Moderator Fest Crew Society

    Thanks. Feedback like this means a lot to me.
    No. We're just looking at a common beer and brewery database or ways to keep them synced. This has nothing to do with beer reviews and ratings.
     
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  32. bl00

    bl00 Devotee (421) May 13, 2013 Pennsylvania
    Trader

    Do you ever get burned out on beer? What other alcohol do you enjoy when you're not having a brew? Also what is your preference when you find yourself at a chain or other establishment that doesn't have good beer options?
     
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  33. JayWhitson

    JayWhitson Crusader (766) Feb 25, 2015 Montana
    Trader

    Hey Todd, do you find yourself drinking more now we are under quarantine, and was wondering if you had a beer cellar/fridge/collection and what it looked like. :slight_smile:
     
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  34. Beer_Stan

    Beer_Stan Initiate (155) Mar 15, 2014 California
    Trader

    Any plans to sell tangible merch(buttons, patches, shirts, etc) or collab some beers in the foreseeable future? I feel Like Beer Advocate should have it's own beer.
     
  35. thesherrybomber

    thesherrybomber Disciple (387) Jun 13, 2017 California
    Society Trader

    Are you originally from CA?
     
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  36. Todd

    Todd Founder (5,981) Aug 23, 1996 California
    Staff Moderator Fest Crew Society

    Rarely. Sometimes after a beer fest, but even then I'll grab a lager to reset the palate.
    I enjoy most alcoholic beverages, but I enjoy wine, bourbon, gin, and tequila.
    If I'm in the mood for a beer, I'll always order a beer.
     
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  37. Todd

    Todd Founder (5,981) Aug 23, 1996 California
    Staff Moderator Fest Crew Society

    I've been working from home since 2003, and I've greatly decreased my drinking over the last 4-5 years, so I don't see any patterns of increased drinking while under quarantine.

    I do have a beer fridge. Just moved so it's not as full as usual, but it typically contains whatever my go-to beer is at the moment and samples from breweries. And I do have some beers that I've been hanging on to, but overall I'm not a fan of cellaring beers. My experience over the decades is that very few hold up and even fewer improve with age.
     
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  38. Todd

    Todd Founder (5,981) Aug 23, 1996 California
    Staff Moderator Fest Crew Society

    Yes. We're working on getting the store back online soon with a few items to kick things off. We'll be looking for community input on future items.
    We've done a bunch of collaborations in the past, but I agree. Having our own lineup of beers would be awesome! I need to make this happen.
     
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  39. Todd

    Todd Founder (5,981) Aug 23, 1996 California
    Staff Moderator Fest Crew Society

    I'm originally from Western Massachusetts. I was stationed in Texas, Delaware, Maine, and England during my Air Force years, got out and then I moved here and there in Western Mass, then back to England, and then back to Western Mass, followed by East Boston, and then Cambridge for over 15 years. But wait, there's more. I then moved to Denver for a few years, and I've been in Marina del Rey for just over three years now. Love SoCal.
     
  40. bubseymour

    bubseymour Poo-Bah (2,944) Oct 30, 2010 Maryland
    Society Trader

    Would you be willing to entertain us with a humorous story from one of your past hosted festivals?
     
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