The New Here’s to Beer site

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.)

And I really like the Javascript-enabled Beer Styles interface they’ve put together. I think that’s hot. It’s short, useful, and to-the-point. Perfect? No. But it’s the kind of thing that appeals to my sense of net-aesthetic.

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.

One Response to The New Here’s to Beer site

  1. Travis says:

    Jon,

    Couple thoughts about this site and your observation on Here’s to Beer and on some of the other things going on with the Internet.

    You are right that web video is the new thing with the younger generation, but community based websites are also the "next big thing". The problem I see with this site is that there is nothing that draws the user in and allows them to contribute to the content. BeerAdvocate’s success is due in large part to user driven content. It’s not just forums and blogs that make a site either. The users ability to build up karma and personalize their space is also important.

    I have also been watching the beermaping project and the only shortfall I see from that is that it is not really filling a void in people’s lives. Most beer aficionados know where their local beer store is and hit it up on a regular basis. However, if a beer guy wants to look for a specific brew, they are hard pressed to find a "who has what where" for beer stores. It sounds like a project that is too big, but with user driven content, this dream could be a reality.

    I like what you do as a blogger, it’s important that blogger’s stick to the purpose of the blog they have created and not get off topic (as I am sure you have experienced, it’s sometimes tough to avoid). My blog, and some of the others that I have begun to monitor, is about home brewing, a web based beer log if you will. This allows our two blogs to serve two different segments of the beer community (though there is some obvious cross over).

    I have ranted on long enough. Both of those sites look good, those are jut my thoughts on where they are headed.

    Travis
    http://www.cnybrew.com