I’m not the first to be writing about the new Here’s to Beer website—both Stan and Jay have beaten me to the punch (Jay’s review is comprehensive)—and I’m sure I won’t be the last, but I thought I’d throw my two cents in. Especially since the folks behind it took the time to fill out my contact form with the pointer to the site and a quick note about it—which they’ve done with other bloggers, and I respect groups that are enlightened enough to go grassroots and reach out to the blogging and otherwise non-establishment communities. (Ignoring the point that I’m actually woefully behind on addressing the submissions on my contact form… sorry, for those I have’t gotten to yet.)
Anyway. As for the site itself, I have to say that I never did visit the old version of it so I really have nothing to compare against. The current site starts out with that feature of beer sites I hate, namely the age verification form. I’ll pound the drums again and say I hate those stupid forms because they don’t actually prevent "underage" people from entering—anyone can lie on those forms, there’s no check—they just make the site awkward to access, and it’s not like there’s any reason to keep the "underage" users out anyway. They can’t drink alcohol over the net!
Beyond that, the site seems to be fairly well structured, with an emphasis on video. They seem to be doing viral little videos uniquely for the site, not bad. (I’ve only viewed a couple.) They’re hoping to tap into the YouTube/MySpace market for online video… which is a good idea. Jay is skeptical on this:
So maybe it’s because I’m an old curmudgeon — and a reader — but I’m not convinced that these little video presentations are the way to reach people. Sure, it’s cutting edge technology and has that gee whiz factor but this is information we’re talking about. I can read it much more quickly, and I don’t need to be entertained every second of my day. I actually like reading and learning new things. Does that make me out of step with the modern world?
Not to bash on Jay here, but I disagree, I think the short video presentations are the way to reach people, particularly the newer wave of people that both Jay and myself aren’t really a part of. (Hey, I can admit it: I’m of the earlier generation of internet users that prefers to read my content rather than viewing it—but there’s no denying the YouTube phenomenon. That’s the future.)
I also like their link to the Beer Mapping Project—that’s exactly the grassroots, blogger-friendly thing that sucks me in. They’ve fought the corporate mentality urge to reinvent the wheel and own it themselves, instead pointing to the user-created out-of-their-control type of content that’s probably better than they could come up with anyway.
So generally I’ll be optimistic about the site. Their relaunch is off to a good start, but one thing they really need to add is a blog—not just the video blog snippets, or a corporate PR-driven thing, but an actual, honest-to-goodness blog written by someone (or someones) who care about the product.
And perhaps a place for users to upload, YouTube-style, their own beer videos to share. That would be cool, too.