What's wrong with Whale Hunting?

Discussion in 'Beer Talk' started by BowWowWowYippyYoIPA, Jan 9, 2015.

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  1. BowWowWowYippyYoIPA

    BowWowWowYippyYoIPA Initiate (0) Dec 30, 2014 California

    Do you have a problem with people searching out the highest rated beers? And if so why?

    Obviously a beer's rating doesn't tell the whole story, and one could feel that a beer's rating is way off the mark. But isn't one of the purposes of this site to lend the beer community a voice? what's the point of that if you don't take that voice into consideration? This is potentially a very expensive hobby, and I almost always consult a beer's ratings before purchasing. I would love to form my own opinion independently about every beer, but neither my wallet nor my liver will allow it.

    I highly respect the opinions of the BA community, and if they deem a beer extraordinary, then I'm going to seek it out dammit! What say you? Are you an Ahab or a Starbuck?

    Apologies if this thread, or one like it, already exists.
    David_CT, Immortale25 and Fox82791 like this.
  2. BurgeoningBrewhead

    BurgeoningBrewhead Initiate (0) Jul 18, 2012 Pennsylvania

    I usually look for beers that catch my eye, and then once I'm already considering purchasing them I might look them up, but usually only if I don't know the brewery. If it's a new beer, by a brewery I already know and trust, then I will buy it on looks/style/whatever alone. I'm not usually disappointed that way.
  3. putonyourwalkingshoes

    putonyourwalkingshoes Initiate (0) Jul 31, 2013 California

    Ask all the people who sat in a torrential rainstorm to get a 2 bottles of Churchills Finest Hour last year. They might tell you.
    floridadrift, BG24 and lambpasty like this.
  4. Geuzedad

    Geuzedad Initiate (0) Nov 14, 2010 Arizona

    No problem here. Been known to do it myself on occasion. If its something I really want to try I will go for it but I will draw the line. Like above, standing in a downpour for 2 hours. Too many good brews too easily available for that. But to each their own. I am not going to say who is right or wrong. Its beer, enjoy it!
    deadonhisfeet and thatoneguymike like this.
  5. Brolo75

    Brolo75 Initiate (0) Aug 10, 2013 California

    I don't have any problem with people searching out for the highest rated beers. What bothers me is when people talk about how many high rated beers they have tried.
    I enjoy beer, whether it's a rare beer or a beer I can find almost anywhere. Beer preferences are really subjective and it's hard to push our preferences on others. They way I look at it is that I can only introduce another BA to a beer I like and if they like great, if not, well it doesn't effect my preference for the beer.
  6. bluehende

    bluehende Initiate (0) Dec 10, 2010 Delaware

    I have no problem with it. Anyone can spend their time and money as they wish.
  7. BowWowWowYippyYoIPA

    BowWowWowYippyYoIPA Initiate (0) Dec 30, 2014 California

    I suppose what I'm getting at is people calling out "whale hunters" or "whale bros." If a beer is in the top 250 why the hell would you not want to try it? If anyone is only seeking out these beers, they are either new to the world of fine beer, or they are incredibly insecure and are seeking some sort of vindication from sampling beers that many people populating this planet have not had the privilege to try. Either way, no need to pick on them. I unashamedly seek out beers on the top 250, but that does not stop me from seeking out other beers.
    blassor, hoppyman81 and mrn1ceguy like this.
  8. Jirin

    Jirin Initiate (0) Apr 28, 2013 Massachusetts

    I have no problem with people searching out high rated beers.

    But if you do things like cheat bottle limits or follow trucks to stores to make sure nobody except you can ever have a chance to taste a rare beer, that's when I have a problem.

    I shouldn't have to check my mail every 5 minutes for all of April to have a mathematical chance at a KBS.
  9. pitweasel

    pitweasel Initiate (0) Jun 11, 2007 New York

    I feel like "searching out the highest rated beers" and "whale hunting" are two different things.

    In my mind, the former reads like this: keeping tabs on which breweries distribute in your area, having your local haunts that you shop at on a regular basis, and checking in with them to see if they'll be getting a limited release that you're interested in trying. If it's a beer that's not sold near you, you might ask a friend in the area if they can pick up a bottle if they happen to stumble across it, but not to go out of their way to look for it.

    The latter reads like this: OMG that beer is super hyped up I have to have it so I'm going to bug the distributor and take time off from work so I can follow the truck on release day and make sure I get my hands on this beer.

    Again, that's just how I read that. Now, do I have a problem with people doing that? Eh, it's their time and money. Personally, I won't really go much beyond a phone call for something unless I'm already in the area and can casually pop in to check stock. I don't have enough time or money to seek out the rarest and highest rated of them all, which is what I would consider to be whales. There are so many world class options sitting on the shelf at any given point - all that time spent hunting down something that the internet told me would be better could be spent doing more productive or rewarding things.

    Long story short: Ratings help me find interesting beers, but they don't dictate the lengths I'll go to get them.
  10. thatoneguymike

    thatoneguymike Pooh-Bah (1,935) Sep 18, 2012 Georgia

    Nothing wrong with it in my opinion! Much like you said, to paraphrase, a million BA's can't be wrong! I'm definitely more inclined to pick up something that I find out of town, or trade for something, that is either highly regarded in reviews or that is heralded in the forums here.

    I think that the general type of 'whale hunters' that are looked down upon are those that, through whatever means, muling or otherwise, gather up huge amounts of extremely limited beer and then either a) post pictures of their HUGE HAUL and then sit on it rather than drink it, or b) extort others out of other said extremely limited beers by trade because so few got them, yet so many want to and didn't have the chance to try them.

    Do your thing man, so long as you're enjoying it for the real reason...great beer is great!
    Ozzylizard likes this.
  11. indurTheB

    indurTheB Initiate (0) Oct 29, 2013 Florida

    Of recent I've actually started traded more often for beers I've already had (traded many times now for FW Sucaba--not sure if that qualifies as "whale"--I live in FL, so definitely does for me). Not saying I'd turn down a whale, I usually only have local "whales" (CCB) to trade in turn.
  12. Jaycase

    Jaycase Grand Pooh-Bah (3,302) Jan 13, 2007 Illinois
    Pooh-Bah Trader

    "searching out the highest rated beers" is a bit vague here imo. Does "searching out" mean muling or hoarding at very limited releases to get an excessive amount of said bottles so they in turn can be flipped/traded to obtain these highest rated beers? If yes, I do have a problem with it. If "searching out" means looking over a store's shelf to see if one of these highest rated beers is there or going to a release of one of these highest rated beers to get a bottle for yourself to try, no, nothing wrong with that imo.
    jrnyc likes this.
  13. BurgeoningBrewhead

    BurgeoningBrewhead Initiate (0) Jul 18, 2012 Pennsylvania

    I don't call them out, there's nothing wrong with it. When I first discovered the world of craft beer, and especially this site, I really wanted to try all these beers I kept hearing about. BCBS, KBS, Heady, Pliny, etc..
    They're all everyone talks about, and then half of those same people turn around and judge the 'n00bs' who want to try them? Gee, I wonder why they'd want to try the beers all the veterans keep talking about!
    You hit the nail on the head though on the reason for it; there are those who get into beer, hear about all the "whales" and then think they're the only good beers and go after them while ignoring anything else.
    But since you don't do that, there's nothing wrong with wanting to try them. I've managed to try many of them, and I'm still looking for a few. But as long as it doesn't keep you from other beers, it's fine.
    BMBCLT and John_Beeryman like this.
  14. Tsar_Riga

    Tsar_Riga Pooh-Bah (2,753) Sep 9, 2013 Indiana
    Pooh-Bah Society

    That would depend on how much time and money said "top 250" beer costs. For the price of a single bottle of some of the more rarefied beers, I can drink highly rated beers from a number of breweries for a week, or in some cases, a month. If you have that kind of money to spend for a single bottle, more power to you. I don't.

    And while I am willing to sink some time into this hobby to seek out the good and interesting, I personally do not have the time or inclination to spend hours in a line to buy my 2-bottle allotment of such-and-such rare beer. Again, if you do, more power to you.

    Meanwhile, I am quite happy to drink what I find. And while that means I skip most Whales, I still manage to grab some stellar brews. I'm not hurting for good options - and I've never spent more than $25 on a bottle, and usually far less.
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  15. BowWowWowYippyYoIPA

    BowWowWowYippyYoIPA Initiate (0) Dec 30, 2014 California

    I mean the latter. Although I would have to do a bit of soul-searching to find out if I really have a problem with the former. At first glance I would like to say, "F you!" to anyone employing mules or flipping bottles. But upon further reflection I would have to acknowledge their industry. Fine beer has created it's own micro-economy, and if we want changes made the community itself has to make the changes. This doesn't happen with shaming or name calling; our less moral components will not respond to that. I will freely admit I don't have the answer, but I suppose if you suspect anyone that you trade with has been hoarding bottles of special releases, resist tepmtation and don't trade with them. Let the free market reign.
  16. evilcatfish

    evilcatfish Initiate (0) May 11, 2012 Missouri

    I've learned to pay attention to my own taste, not ratings or the "whale scale." I never make an effort just to get a beer based on rarity or rating, but for my own personal enjoyment. If I get an extra to trade or send a friend then all the better
  17. BowWowWowYippyYoIPA

    BowWowWowYippyYoIPA Initiate (0) Dec 30, 2014 California

    Yes, but if you had a choice between two beers that were the same style, had the same number of ratings, were from two breweries that you respected equally, and were the same price, wouldn't you choose the one that had the higher rating? As I mentioned before, neither my wallet nor my liver will abide me judging every beer on planet earth by my own taste, as much as I would like to. BA's ratings are my first go to when encountering a beer I've never seen before. Why shouldn't it be? And by this same logic, why shouldn't I seek out the highest rated beers?
  18. Beef_Curtains

    Beef_Curtains Initiate (0) Oct 14, 2013 Ohio

    I don't understand the lengths some people would go to for a particular beer, but I don't have a problem with it. If you think it's worth the time/money/effort, then go for it.

    I only have a problem if you think drinking whales makes you better than people who drink shelf beers.
  19. John_Beeryman

    John_Beeryman Initiate (0) Jul 19, 2014 Virginia

    I don't have a problem with anything other people do, if it doesn't hurt anyone. I try to get the best beer I can find, but I don't whale hunt, because there are a few things in life more important than hyped beers.
    LMT likes this.
  20. zxtwou2

    zxtwou2 Initiate (0) Feb 1, 2014 Illinois

    the only problem with "whales" that i have is that there are too many pedants here that argue the only real whale is one that a couple guys got together and put on a specific list....instead of the Melville metaphor of something you seek out for a while in hopes of getting. some beers are whales to me...but not others. no reason to waste posts on a thread about whales just to correct people what a whale really is....we all know what the OP meant in those threads...carry on.
    DarkerTheBetter likes this.
  21. evilcatfish

    evilcatfish Initiate (0) May 11, 2012 Missouri

    Unless somebody told me the rating I wouldn't know what it was, so I would just choose randomly I guess. I do sometimes refer to ratings but usually after I've already tried something just to see if my palate agreed with the masses
  22. rab53

    rab53 Initiate (0) May 1, 2005 Washington

    I see two problems with "whale hunting", or more generally, only seeking out the highest rated beers.

    First, it seems that there has been an increase in the number of young, new-to-craft drinkers that have "grown up" with things like BA, RateBeer and Untappd. Finding out what "the best" beers are is seemingly only a click away. On several occasions, I have seen a guy in his early 20's walk up to the counter of a bottle shop and ask for Pliny, KBS, Heady Topper, Westvleteren, etc while reading off a list. There has been no effort to establish what their personal preferences may be by trying what beers are readily available, nor becoming part of the greater beer community. I know that not everyone has the same priorities, and that we were all new once. The best analogy I can think of is a yuppie showing up to a recreational sports league with all new, top of the line equipment but having never played the sport.

    Secondly, a growing fraction of the BA-type community are increasingly focused on rare beers. Like in other scenarios of high demand/low supply goods (playoff tickets, drugs, ivory, Tickle-Me Elmo's, etc), bad consumer behavior is brought out. The recent thread about muling and hoarding addressed a lot this (but "it's just capitalism", right?). The priority is acquiring rarity and status over camaraderie and generosity. Of course not everyone who wants the latest "whale" is an jerk, there have been so many shared stories that illustrate this behavior.

    Having said all of that, highly rated beer is good stuff. Just depends on how much of your resources you would spend to get them.
  23. mudbug

    mudbug Pooh-Bah (1,688) Mar 27, 2009 Oregon

    Knock yourself out, but don't be surprised if some folks laugh at you.
  24. Strangestbrewer

    Strangestbrewer Initiate (0) Oct 17, 2014 Oregon

    The two problems I seem to have with it tend to be:

    1) The people who do it just to put another notch on their bedpost so to speak. Where it's not about drinking the beer, or even the journey to get the beer. It's about telling people you've had the beer.

    2) People who go "Omg you haven't had beer xxxx?! It's so good how haven't you had any xxxx?" while they have half the release in their basement.
  25. Kaz_DemonKnight

    Kaz_DemonKnight Initiate (0) Jul 8, 2014 Illinois

    I think it's fine to whale hunt, but I don't think it's not good to be obsessed with it. I will say though, a lot of top beers and hyped beers are really that good. But At the end of the day, the goal is to get amazing beer that is flavorful, fresh (depending on the beer), and an experience.
  26. rozzom

    rozzom Pooh-Bah (2,534) Jan 22, 2011 New York
    Pooh-Bah Trader

    What you're describing isn't really whale hunting. It's just referring to ratings, which is something I do myself sometimes (when, like you said, I'm faced with a couple of beers I've never heard of, and only have time/$ for one). I doubt anybody would have a problem with this.

    True whale hunting (buying or trading for the truly limited / hard to acquire releases) is fine as well, as long as you play fair.
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  27. King_Ranch

    King_Ranch Initiate (0) Feb 19, 2014 Texas

    ...but what if the person that related the word to beer in the first place meant it to be one of those beers 99.99% of us would never see?

    I think that is the case. Do you still have a problem with it?

    I also think it was a joke... now so many are butt hurt over the term.
  28. SmashPants

    SmashPants Initiate (0) Jun 24, 2012 Australia

    I promised myself a few years ago that I would try every different beer I could get my hands on - whether I particularly wanted to or not. The funny thing about doing it that way is that I have had some absolutely amazing beers that have pretty ordinary packaging.

    And a lot of the newer beers in the Australian craft brewing scene haven't made their way to BA as there are obviously far less Aussies on BA than Americans. That reminds me... I still have to add all those beers :-s
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  29. dennis3951

    dennis3951 Initiate (0) Mar 6, 2008 New Jersey

    If you are hunting beers to drink yourself that's fine. If you are hunting to resell that is wrong.
  30. Mitchell57

    Mitchell57 Initiate (0) Jan 8, 2013 Wisconsin

    I don't mind if people do it...it's frustrating that beer culture is getting that way where if you can't leave work mid-day or someone can't buy/hold bottles for you, you might miss out on a lot of releases. This is also coming from a location/perspective where it isn't THAT bad as compared to Chicago, NY, etc.

    I would not have stood outside in a thunderstorm/rain storm for a 32oz growler of KBS for 90 minutes. I can say that much.
  31. LMT

    LMT Initiate (0) Oct 15, 2009 Virginia

    I have no problem with it, but I don't do it. I've got other priorities in life.

    Plus, rare does not always mean better than what's readily available.
    LittleGus, Christopper and Providence like this.
  32. Dogtirednj

    Dogtirednj Initiate (0) Aug 20, 2014 Pennsylvania

    I've had occasion to try a "whale" or two. And they were damned good brews. But I feel my time is better spent drinking a good (easily accessible) beer with good people. As for how others choose to spend that time..You do you.
  33. michman

    michman Initiate (0) Oct 14, 2005 Illinois

    nothing wrong with it at all. its generally the attitude that comes along with it where no beer outside of the top 10, 50, 100 etc must be worth drinking bc its not highly rated. Dont get me wrong the top of the rankings is littered with great beers, but no where close to an accurate reflection of my own personal tastes. just one guys opinion here...drink what you like and seek out whatever beer makes you happy. just remember nobody honestly gives a shit that you have ticked the entire top 50.
  34. CraftFan5

    CraftFan5 Pooh-Bah (2,130) May 14, 2013 New Jersey
    Pooh-Bah Trader

    Sorry to pick on you, you're just the most recent post...

    Anyway, like I mentioned in another thread recently, how long are you going to be content drinking the same good, easily accessible beer? Sure, I could drink Rochefort 10 or FBS until I'm blue in the face, but wouldn't that get boring?

    For me, keeping tabs on the Top 250 and being able to look up ratings really help me keep my fridge and cellar loaded with interesting new things.
    DarkerTheBetter and pjvie like this.
  35. Jnashed

    Jnashed Initiate (0) Feb 14, 2014 Virginia

    I hate Whale hunting! (out of complete jealousy that I will not work to find the beer and give it a try)
  36. gopens44

    gopens44 Grand Pooh-Bah (3,374) Aug 9, 2010 Virginia
    Pooh-Bah Trader

    I'm developing quite an issue with me hunting, but couldn't care less how anyone else spends their time. What' you'll find on this site are people who despise using mules or gathering up everything they can find to use as commodity or worse. You personally want to engage in the chase, than by all means enjoy yourself but please remember to post comical stories of rude behavior you witness along the way!
    drtth and Providence like this.
  37. glass_house

    glass_house Initiate (0) Jan 10, 2014 Ohio

    In my relatively short time (roughly 2 years) on the craft beer scene, I've realized the hunt isn't for me. There is just way too much easily accessible great beer for me to be bothered with the necessary effort/output of resources. I have a couple decent sources that will hold a small amount of any limited release stuff for me if I request it and they can get it. But that's about as far as I'm willing to go. More power to those that love the thrill of the hunt.
  38. KrajDoesBeer

    KrajDoesBeer Initiate (0) Aug 2, 2014 Illinois

    I am friends with a ton of people that work at beer stores here in Chicago. they say once a week someone new comes in and says.. "Do you have Heady topper?" They can't help but laugh... they dont tell him its not available because people need to do more research.
    LittleGus and Cook82 like this.
  39. KrajDoesBeer

    KrajDoesBeer Initiate (0) Aug 2, 2014 Illinois

    I am on that has zero problem with looking at ratings and chasing them. I personally do that only for IPAs. I usually to go to the states ratings because I don't want to miss a 94pt(for ex) from Rhode Island or something because it isn't in the top 250. My thought is I go with the style I love and want to try them. If I go to store and the IPA is only and 86 but there is a 92 right there Ill by the 92 because I do mostly trust the BA rating system! That being said.. If there is a style from a brewery say, Pipeworks, I will try ALL of their IPAs no matter the rating because I know I love them. Just my opinion
  40. udubdawg

    udubdawg Initiate (0) Dec 11, 2006 Kansas

    I used to seek out the highest rated beers. Just for the experience. Got 99 of top 100 at one point.
    And eventually I noticed too many that tasted much like some less highly rated beers that were easier to find. And some styles that were never highly rated that I preferred over those that dominate the lists. Got too old for some of my longer road trips too. So I don't actively seek out the highest rated beers anymore, but rather the stuff I've found over decades of drinking beer that I like the best. But do I have a problem with it? Of course not.
    Whale hunting seems to me to be a small subset of seeking out the highest rated beers. It's not for me, but again, to each their own.
    sharpski likes this.
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