CLOWN SHOES CONTROVERSY

There’s nothing the craft beer blogosphere enjoys more than a little controversy. Yesterday, the intertubes boiled over thanks to a little tiff between Clown Shoes and the Director of Special Events for Beer Advocate, Candice Alström. First, let’s review the facts:

1. Clown Shoes, a fairly new ale factory that contract brews through Mercury Brewing Company in Ipswich, MA has a tendency to use slightly lascivious labels on their bottles.

2. One of these labels, the Brown Angel, raised the ire of Candice Alström, Director of Special Events for Beer Advocate and wife of one of the Alström brothers (founders and administrators of the highly influential craft beer website, beeradvocate.com). Candice questioned the use of the Brown Angel label, which features a dark-skinned angel positioned in such a way as to highlight her ample posterior, last February.

The label that started it all.

3. Gregg Berman, CEO of Clown Shoes, defended the label by noting that it was “meant to be modern, adventurous, and fun. Maybe even provocative.” He also noted that his wife is a “brown woman” who served as the inspiration for the label. He admitted that some people in the industry had voiced concern to him about the imagery and while he thought it was a “vibrant and positive symbol”, he did issue an apology for anyone that was offended.

4. Since then, Clown Shoes has released a Belgian IPA called Tramp Stamp which features a label showcasing a woman with a lower back tattoo and hip-hugger jeans. While similar to the Brown Angel label, there was little backlash to this beer.

Here's where I should point out that Clown Shoes also makes beers like Hoppy Feet, Clementine and Pecan Pie Porter which all have thoroughly tame labels.

5. This week, Clown Shoes revealed their label for an American Black Ale called Lubrication. The label features a robot at a gas station holding a pump handle in the general vicinity of his groin.

6. Candice Alström decided that the Lubrication was the last straw and published a post in the Beer Advocate forum pages entitled “Done with Clownshoes”. In it, she calls Berman a “jackass” and she refers to his company as “classless” and “tacky” while describing his beer as “average at best”.

7. The post unleashed a tidal wave of responses with over 300 comments in the first few hours. While there was some commentary about whether or not the labels actually were offensive, the VAST majority of comments pertained to whether Ms. Alström was abusing her position as a Beer Advocate moderator and employee of the site.

8. In response, Gregg Berman wrote in the Beer Advocate thread that the goal of the Lubrication label was to be G-rated and that he wished Ms. Alström would “approach me privately to discuss your feelings” rather than use a public forum to air her grievances.

9. One other fact that may or may not have relevance depending on your take on the Clown Shoes labels: the label artist for most Clown Shoes beers is a woman, and she pointed this out in a comment on a beernews.org  thread about the controversy. She did not seem offended by the Lubrication label, but did admit that she hopes no robots had their feelings hurt by her illustration.

OK…got all that? End of facts. On to the opinion…

This is ridiculous. Just ridiculous. I’m not going to comment on whether or not the earlier Clown Shoes labels are offensive other than to say that I personally don’t find ANY of them problematic. But I’m not a women and I don’t wake up every day firmly ensconced in a culture that objectifies my gender and uses suggestive advertising featuring highly sexualized females to sell products. It’s easy for me to say that no one should be upset about the Clown Shoes labels. But if you’re a woman (or man, of course), and you think they’re offensive, you have every right to.

More to the point, Candice Alström has every right to be offended by the labels. She has every right to feel this way and every right to discuss the issue. The problem is that there are countless other forums Ms. Alström could have used to proclaim her opinion. Instead, she chose to use Beer Advocate, a site that employs her as the Director of Special Events and which is tremendously influential in the craft beer world. She essentially used Beer Advocate as a bully pulpit to unleash a character assassination on a man (and his company) that she clearly finds distasteful.

Make no mistake, this had little to do with the Lubrication label. Everyone who has seen the label has commented that they don’t understand why anyone would find it offensive. Look at the image on the top left of this post. THAT’S what Ms. Alström claims she’s upset by. A robot at a gas station. Sure, the pump is being held in such a way that it could be construed as representing his junk.* But even that’s pretty weak tea. This is a tame beer label no matter how you slice it…only the beer name could really be seen as offensive. And if the word “lubrication” really bothers you, you should probably pedal your giant-wheeled bicycle back to Victorian England.

*I believe “junk” is the best euphemism to use when referring to robot genitalia.

There are FAR worse labels out there. Labels that CLEARLY objectify women. There are beers called Donkey Punch, Badonk-a-Dunkel, and Hop Whore. Yet somehow, Ms. Alström has never questioned the existence of these beers. She seems to only find the output of Clown Shoes to be worthy of her wrath.

I don’t think the Lubrication label had anything to do with it…it’s that Candice Alström has a grudge against Gregg Berman stemming from last year’s Brown Angel imbroglio. Look…Aleheads may be listed as a “Friend” on the Clown Shoes website (so is Beer Advocate, by the way), but we don’t actually know Mr. Berman. Maybe he’s a complete douchebag. And Maybe Ms. Alström is a saint. And maybe there’s some behind-the-scenes stuff that, if made public, would make everyone side with her and shun Gregg Berman like a leper.

But from where I’m sitting, with the facts we have right now, Candice Alström looks petty. She looks like she’s abusing her power. She looks like she’s trying to destroy a man’s business…his LIVELIHOOD…because of a personal vendetta.

Like I said, if it’s really just all about her being offended by the Clown Shoes beer labels, I have no beef with her. Some things offend me that don’t offend others (like Everybody Loves Raymond). But she crossed a line by using Beer Advocate to voice that opinion. If she wanted to come on Aleheads to say such a thing, fine! We’re an op-ed site that has absolutely no influence on the industry. Or if she wanted to just put it on a personal Twitter account or her own blog, that’s OK too. By leveraging her position as a moderator and employee at Beer Advocate, she overstepped her bounds. In the comment thread, she claimed that it’s unfair that she can’t use the site to discuss her opinions like everyone else. That’s NOT unfair…that’s exactly how it should be. She has powers and privileges that other users don’t. In fact, many users noted that any time they started threads bashing a brewery in the past, those threads were “locked out” by the Alström brothers…and some users outside of Beer Advocate have even claimed they were banned for such threads! But Candice’s thread was never locked out (until it dragged on to an absurd length and Jason Alström finally shut it down) and she certainly wasn’t banned.

Beer Advocate is a wonderful resource and has done more to promote craft beer than practically any other site on the web. With that power comes a heaping helping of responsibility.* Beer Advocate should serve, as their name implies, as an advocate for beer…not as a forum for employees to spew vitriol against their least favorite breweries. That’s for stupid, unpopular sites like ours.

*As you might suspect, Jason and Todd Alström were quick to defend Candice. I actually don’t have an issue with this. Even if I had a problem with something a family member did, I’d probably still jump to their defense. It’s just the way it is when you’re dealing with family. That said, I was a little surprised by how taken aback the Alströms were to the comments attacking Candice. Surely they must understand why the Beer Advocate users were outraged that one of the site’s employees was using their forums to bash a brewery? They must be aware of how much water they carry in the craft beer industry and how that influence puts them and their family under a microscope. I would expect them to defend Candice, but I didn’t think they’d openly complain about the “off-topic” comments in the thread. I think the discussion occurring in the comments was very worthwhile. The site users were questioning the professionalism of the site administrators. That seems like a worthy conversation to me.

I don’t think Gregg Berman has anything to apologize for. Beyond the fact that the Lubrication label is thoroughly tame, he has the right to put anything he wants on his beer labels (subject to approval by the TTB, of course). Neither do I think Candice Alström needs to apologize for finding said labels offensive. What she DOES need to apologize for is using Beer Advocate as a forum to voice her opinion. I would hope that the Alström brothers will IMMEDIATELY put into practice a new rule that bans all Beer Advocate employees from using the site to attack a specific beer or brewery. Personally, I don’t even think the employees should be involved in rating or reviewing beers and breweries anymore. Let the public do that…there are thousands upon thousands of reviewers on the site now. Let the masses dictate which beers and breweries are worthy. The Alströms have done a remarkable, amazing, wholly laudable thing by building up Beer Advocate. But their opinions carry far too much weight on the site and in the industry now. They need to use that power to serve as thoughtful, deliberate moderators…not as the ultimate arbiters of what is good and bad in the craft beer world.

I know it’s just another tempest in a teapot and probably not worth the amount of words I’ve written to get here. But I’d hate to see a hard-working man’s business impacted by the angry words of an employee unethically using her employer’s influential name to damage said business. I feel very strongly that Candice Alström is in the wrong here and I hope she publicly apologizes for her misstep. Perhaps she and Gregg Berman can settle their differences over a nice bottle of Hoppy Feet. A guy sitting on a chair with his clown shoe-bedecked feet propped up on a railing? Ain’t nothing offensive about that.

Plus, the Hoppy Feet is freaking delicious. And really, isn’t that what it’s all about?

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52 comments

  1. I would really love for the full background between the two to come out. You’d think Berman must have run over her foot with his car or something.

  2. Anonymous · ·

    Calling women tramps is wrong. Ain’t no other way to see that one. Using sexist words like tramp to sell beer: even wronger. The rest, fair enough, I’m with you.

  3. I don’t honestly see why Candice got so bent out of shape- the Brown Angel label doesn’t offend me one bit. It’s a work of art, and far better than some of the other labels I’ve seen. But then I’m a bit artsy myself, so I’m more likely to judge a label by its quality than content (unless its full on gross). It seems to me that Candice has a personal grudge against Clown Shoes & Berman, by her reaction to the Lubrication label- totally blown out of proportion & ridiculous, IMO.

    Candice said “I felt like the label was tacky and borderline sexist or racist” and my first thought was does she not want to see people of color on anything? Maybe she’s sexist or racist? I don’t know, but that’s how it came across to me.

  4. Like I said, Anonymous, I take no umbrage with anyone who is offended by the Clown Shoes labels. Whether it’s the imagery or the names, no one can tell you what you should or shouldn’t be angered by. In this case, I’m mostly concerned about the issue of a Beer Advocate employee abusing her privileges. As to whether or not the Clown Shoes labels are offensive, that’s entirely in the eye of the beholder and it’s not my place to question your beliefs.

  5. I think that what you mention as most egregious – that she is employed at BA and used their platform as a bully pulpit is dead on. I’ve run into numerous folks around the beer industry who’ve been politely asked when starting a job with a brewery to shut down their personal beer websites. It has nothing to do with the quality of their opinion, it’s simply unprofessional to have an opinion on another brewery’s beer coming from a brewery employee.

    If someone at Boston Beer, who was known as an employee of the company, came out to complain about the Clown Shoes label on the BBC site, the immediate reaction would be annoyance at the unprofessional conduct. Admittedly BA isn’t competing with Clown Shoes, but the professionalism issue remains.

  6. The artist of Clown Shoes labels has her say:

    http://staceygeorge.com/2011/07/06/sometimes-a-pipe-is-just-a-pipe/

    Arschgeweih, anyone? LMMFAO

  7. Fear the Ban-hammer · ·

    I wouldn’t even have a problem with a BA mod posting something like “I think CS labels are sexist.” The problem is that Candice’s “style” is to write poorly reasoned, poorly worded (heaven forbid we use verbs and articles when necessary) rants about whatever pisses her off, which results in inappropriate, personal attacks and hyperbolic claims. And then she’s tone-deaf to the fact that as someone in a position of power, and when commenting on something related to her job, she’s held to a higher standard. She kept arguing “why aren’t I allowed to have an opinion?” Well, it’s the same reason that people lose their jobs over things they post on facebook, twitter, etc–you are held to a higher standard when it comes to things related to your employer.

    The other problem was that while she kept claiming she wanted a debate, her topic was basically “I hate the guy that runs Clownshoes and his labels.” What were they supposed to debate? Whether or not she hates him?

  8. Anonymous · ·

    In reply to Barley: it’s not actually a question of being angered or upset: e.g. I don’t need to be gay to understand that words that gay people find offensive are, in fact, offensive. This is factual stuff, there’s even dictionary entry for the term used: see number 2 on this page: http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=tramp+stamp. Not fun.
    The real question is: is this how we want the craft beer experience for women (& men) to be shaped? This is already kind of a tough industry for women to work in; it certainly shouldn’t be tough for women to feel comfortable consuming craft beer! Can you agree with that without “being a woman”?

  9. Anonymous; I disagree, and I AM a woman. I have no problem drinking a beer with a label with a sexy woman on it- and if it’s really good, I’ll keep drinking it, and promote the beer to my customers. To me, it represents how the brewers feel about their beer, and in my view, it’s not objectifying women at all, rather its a high honor, it’s paying homage, to represent a woman in such a way, because women are beautiful, and a sense of wonderment & awe. And certainly over the course of human history, men have agreed, as evidenced by such paintings as Botticelli’s “Birth of Venus”, and legends & myths surrounding my gender.

    If we allow the PC Police to dictate our lives, it totally takes the fun & joy out of it, and then what’s the point?

    I’m in the retail end of the beer industry, and while I get some attitude because I’m a woman in the beer industry (usually from sexist men who don’t think women know shit about beer), mostly I get men & women who trust my palate & suggestions, and even follow ‘my favorites’ posted in the cooler.

  10. Yes, of course! I’m sorry I didn’t respond to your point about the use of the word “tramp” from your earlier comment. I was just trying to explain that my post really wasn’t about whether or not these labels were offensive. That’s a different discussion entirely.

    While I may personally not be offended by the word “tramp” or phrase “tramp stamp” because of my ignorance as to what it is like to be on the receiving end of such language, I fully and completely understand why you and others would find it demeaning.

    And you are 100% correct about the craft beer industry. It tends to cater towards men because of our cultural expectation that males drink beer and women don’t. Female craft beer drinkers have been shattering that perception in recent years and I sincerely hope it leads to some recognition by brewers that you don’t need a Y chromosome to drink good beer. If/when we get to that point, perhaps labels such as these will become relics of a bygone age.

  11. Anonymous · ·

    I’d love to debate Candice on this if another forum opened up. But a few things stick out.

    First, a declaration is not a discussion. She says this was a declaration and she wanted to discuss it but that isn’t how it works. The US didn’t discuss the Declaration of Independence for example. To me that opening statement set the tone like so many other posts in forums. What amazes me is how people are repeatedly shocked by the reactions. If this were said in person at a social event you’d nod your head and find someone else to talk to.

    Second, I think people like to cling to the word “opinionated” because “close minded” is too negative. There is a huge difference between saying “this is crap” and “I think this is crap”, or “this is offensive” and “doesn’t anyone find this as offensive as me”. Rarely have I seen a person who labels themselves as opinionated agree that other views have some validity. Candice proved this to be true by not getting the opinion of the artist correct, judging Lubrication by what others pointed out, and not backtracking on any point as a result.

    Beyond that, it seems odd to find labels offensive in the beer industry. Seems like Candice confuses beer with wine. Even a tame commercial with a guy and gal on a beach in bathing suits could be similar to the Brown Angel label.

    I also find the stance on Brown Angel disturbing. It really seems like the offensive part is the “Brown”. A woman in a bikini is offensive?

    Finally, people seem to confuse the -ists and -isms with well known groups. Sexism is related to gender and racism to race but for Tramp Stamp to be offensive you need to group just those with such a tattoo. It’s not about women. It’s just those who get the tattoo. And has anyone checked on their opinion. Each time I do they agree it’s about expressing their open sexuality kind of like wearing a low cut shirt or a bikini. If the women with such a tattoo want to complain then I’ll listen but those without such a tattoo are really grasping for a fight.

  12. Where can I get some clown shoes? Candice just shot their publicity up a ton.

  13. Kid Carboy Jr. · ·

    I’d heard nothing but good things before they got to Illinois. The only one I’ve had was the Eagle Claw Fist, which I thought was great. Strike that, I forgot I had Tramp Stamp at a bar, which was decent. I’ve got bombers of Brown Angel and Hoppy Feet 1.5 in my fridge, though.

  14. I had a long twitter chat with Candice and I can safely say she sees nothing wrong with using BA to voice her opinion. Being an employee means nothing to her. If others can post the same thing then she should be too is what she told me. Even more boggling is her insistence that the tone of the post had nothing to do with the violent reaction. I guess it’s not surprising from someone who in her Twitter profile makes no apologies for swearing. I swear but I’m not proud of it and I would certainly apologize if I offended. After my discussing with her I really feel she has never conceded that she was wrong about anything or that someone else has a valid point. Amazing.

  15. Fear the Ban-hammer · ·

    Matt: saw that discussion. She is clearly “apart” from the community, as she put it. ;-) She also doesn’t seem to get that when you run a publicly visible organization, it’s not what *you* think that matters, is what those viewing your organization think. It matters if others perceive a conflict of interest, or if they think you’re getting preferential treatment, not what she thinks.

    I also find it odd that a moderator, who is trusted to follow and enforce the rules, would brag about “hav[ing] probably had more posts deleted and removed than anyone here who is crying any [sic] bitching about it.”

  16. “I’m even worse than you folks are! Thanks for putting me in charge of your posts!”

  17. Anonymous · ·

    One thing that stirkes me and no one has brought up is that while bitching about their labels, she calls their beer “average at best”. Stick to the actual argument. You were upset about their labels yet you stoke the emotional fires by saying “yeah, and your beer’s not good, either.”. That’s poor debate etiquette.

  18. BeerBanker · ·

    Resie, I’m curious as to your take on beers with graphics that are “normal” but with a title that could be viewed as offensive. One of my fave beers (though I’m told it’s gone for the timebeing from Georgia) is Flying Dog’s Raging Bitch. Gotta tell you I thought twice before bringing a six of that home for my wife & daughters to see. If you have it available, do you blink before putting it out for customers or do you figure if they’re old enough to drink, they should be old enough to think ?

    If my girls were still young (they’re in college now) I think I woulda skipped it, because their worldview was still being shaped, but they’ve got good, healthy self-images and are mature enough to ignore labels that were meant to titilize rather than inform…Even if all of FD’s brews are dog-themed double-entendres, that one just fits in with so many negative stereotypes that I think I’d have passed on it.

  19. Anonymous brings up a good point that is missed in all the hype. The post itself is poorly constructed. The artist has stated that she was misquoted, all opinions are stated as fact, and the supposed final straw was based on what others told her and not her own original thought. And I still can’t figure out what bothers me about her comment on the CS owner’s wife being the wrong type of brown.

    To BeerBanker – I will go one further. I find the Flying Dog labels distasteful without Raging Bitch. The artwork just creeps me out. It’s just like a zombie stick figure dog from a nightmare. I hate their labels. The beer is good though.

    Another point lost in the shuffle is the job of a moderator. Somehow I always thought it should be like a referee – unbiased and impartial. Not only does that post show extreme bias but how can you seriously expect someone to enforce the rules of the forum on their own opinion pieces? We don’t let umpires take a swing at the plate so they can call their own balls and strikes. Beyond the theoretical aspect of moderating your own posts there is the evidence that the person who has the job is in fact very biased and shows signs of pettiness. If the job were up for hiring to the general public I can’t imagine qualities you want less in a candidate.

    In my Twitter debate I did try to point Candice to this article since I thought it did a much better job of explaining the conflict of interest. Her response was “I am not reading that ****. I have said my piece on the matter. Deal with it or don’t.” I’m not sure if she
    a) has a grudge against aleheads.com,
    b) thought it was a different article source
    c) finally did admit she has no interest in opposing opinions
    d) is sick of the entire thing
    The sentence “deal with it or don’t” really floors me. A moderator shouldn’t say that, an employee of BA shouldn’t say that, someone who claims to want a discussion shouldn’t say that, and a reasonable human being shouldn’t say that.

    I would really like to know if a poll was put up in BA asking to vote on whether or not it’s OK for employees to express opinions on specific brewers if Candice would accept a certain percentage as proof that perhaps she was wrong. My opinions don’t agree with majority all the time but when that happens I at least know that I’m in the minority and I may need to alter my behavior to keep the peace with my family, neighborhood, community, or workplace. It’s fine to like the New York Yankees but that doesn’t mean it’s fine to yell “Red Sox suck” in a Boston bar.

  20. Fear the Ban-hammer · ·

    lol she still doesn’t get it: http://www.scandalouscandice.com/pork_chops_chicken/2011/07/official-statement.html

    “I am held to a different standard apparently. I must blindly advocate on behalf of all craft beer. It’s okay to let the community express personal feelings about something beer related but not me. Not me because I am not considered an member o the community too. I am a, DUN DUN DUNNNNNNNN!, a MODERATOR!”

    And she still misrepresents the illustrator’s supposed apprehension over the label.

  21. BeerBanker · ·

    Matt, I suspect you’re bang on with #4 and she’s just tired of hearing about it and especially the overwhelming “you’re wrong” vote. as far as FD label art, you musta missed the 60’s. Ralph Steadman is one of my favorite artists and did all of the art for Hunter S. Thompson’s articles & books. Beauty is in the eye of the beerholder…

    and on a different topic, why the hell would anyone tell a friend to “Stay thirsty…” ?!?

    Grab a freaking beer and get UnThirsty…

  22. I’m not thinking it’s the “has a grudge against Aleheads” option—she would have to be aware of us for that to apply.

  23. Actually, if she referred to our writing as “shit”, perhaps she IS aware of us! That’s a fairly accurate description of most of our posts…

  24. Anonymous · ·

    Candice’s response is nothing more than yet another example of her completely missing the point on something and ranting and raving about something else. She still doesn’t get that it’s her level of professionalism that is being questioned, not her right to have opinions. Have all the opinions you want, but state them in a professional manner when posting on the website that you work at, and not with the inevitable name calling and attitude that Candice rants to often come along with. Yes, you are held to a different standard. The people working behind the counter at McDonalds are held to a different standard than the people in front of it. That’s how it is when you work somewhere, like it or not, you represent that place while there and must understand you need to act accordingly. But I’ve seen her act completely unprofessional not only on beeradvocate.com but in person while actively on duty of her staff position, director of events. She stated things I completely agreed with, but it was such an inappropriate time and place that even I felt incredibly uncomfortable because of her. If she doesn’t understand actively working at an event and making certain types of comments, then she will never understand that as far as the beer advocate website goes. Just more of the same from Candice.

  25. BeerBanker- Raging Bitch, Bitch Creek, Big Ass Chardonnay, Bitch Red Wine, Fat Bastard Merlot- no, none of those names bother me in the least. I think it’s actually pretty humorous. If I could get my hands on Fucking Hell beer out of Germany, I’d stick it in my cooler. I’ve had the discussion of ‘offensive’ labels with co-workers & my bosses, and we’re all of the same mind, & just as you put it “if they’re old enough to drink, they should be old enough to think.” We’ve even debated about bringing in the Kalishnikov Vodka & Kalishnikov Armenian brandy http://englishrussia.com/images/19/1.jpg & from a retail stand point, it WILL sell. Just like Bong Vodka or Crystal Skull Vodka. Not everyone is offended by these things, and nor should they be.

    Our world would be very drab & boring if everyone had the same opinion & everything was controlled by the PC police.

  26. By the way, if you want to see some legitimately offensive labels, check out Beer Here’s Tia Loca and Malus Pater:

    Leave it to the Danes to show us what offensive beer labels really look like.

  27. I appreciate that the people commenting on here are sticking to the story and mostly refraining from any ad hominem attacks against Candice (I’ve seen some far less charitable commentary elsewhere). I may strongly disagree with her actions, but I think those making personal attacks against her and the Alströms are only hurting the debate. We can take issue with someone’s methods without lowering ourselves to juvenile name-calling.

    And yes, I realize this is coming from someone who spent an entire Livechat of an episode of the Discovery Channel’s Brew Masters calling Sam Calagione a douchebag. I stand by my record. In real life, I’m sure he’s a sweet dude…but his “character” on the show eerily resembled a feminine hygiene product.

  28. I agree Barley. I didn’t like how Sam came across on the show. It seemed to be more about “hey look at how awesome my life is” instead of about beer. He could be a better person than me in real life though. His products are usually great for sure. Just no more of him on TV please.

    IMO Candice’s blog really makes her stance even more shaky. It’s overly defensive and filled with contradictions. She tries to claim it’s only about those CS labels and what other think of them yet is quick to point out that 2 local bars would not carry Brown Angel and definitely not Tramp Stamp. She says she would welcome a broader discussion but makes no effort to expand her list of distasteful labels or begin such a discussion. Nor does she take a stance on any other brewer for having labels she doesn’t like. She wants to point out that a brewer shouldn’t have to “go there” to sell beer but then doesn’t bring other brewers to task who also “go there”.

    The discussion seems to keep walking a line between “the industry” and just one brewer it’s almost like walking a tightrope. I think she knows it’s wrong to just hate CS for personal reasons but she can’t stop herself. She also shows no sign of wanting a debate but is eager to say she truly wanted a debate, probably to cover the reality that she just wants to rant and knows that’s wrong too.

    I can’t determine if this is sad or scary but she also continues to insist her influence is not different than a common user of BA. Does anyone remember the last time a forum poster in BA (or any forum) got so much publicity? Or the local news channel to do a story?

  29. Although they supported her publicly, I can’t believe the Alstrom brothers will be thrilled with the intensity and tenor of the discourse surrounding this story. Unless their lack of self-awareness matches Candice’s someone will probably tell her to tone it down a little. I’ve followed this discussion all over the web and would argue the level of debate here is as good as anywhere. It’s probably keeping the focus on good beer and a tendency to stick up for what’s right and the underdog that draws our awesome readers.

    Everyone have a good weekend and enjoy a beer or two. As Barley notes, that’s what it’s all about.

    Cheers!

  30. Dear lord, that Malus Pater is brutal.

  31. Arbitrator · ·

    I’m surprised how much hate there is for candace alstrom. I knew she was unliked but damm, people really hate her. Now any post about clown shoes is automatically deleted and the users are threatened with account termination by todd. These people are ridickulous.

  32. It’s kind of interesting how different the experience is on different parts of the forum. I’ve used the homebrewing forum on BA for years, but never even heard of any drama. This story was actually the first time I’ve ever even heard of Candice Alstrom–never knew she existed despite having been a BA member for the past 3 years and active on the homebrewing forums. Guess it’s a good thing she doesn’t dabble there.

  33. Funny you should say that Kid Carboy Jr. because I was wondering what the forums were like. I think I have a unique view since I am not a member of BA but I have been tempted to join just to get a glimpse of the forums. By the way, isn’t that a bad policy to hide the posts from non-members? So far I’ve managed to avoid temptation and have not signed up. It allows me to honestly say I have no knowledge of past history with regards to the forums.

    In a way I think Candice is insulting members of BA like you. She has said a few times that it does not matter what tone she takes with her posts, people will always respond to her in the same ugly manner. If you think about it, that means that every member of BA is incapable of carrying on a reasonable conversation with her and has an irrational hatred of her. Rude, ignorant, nasty people do exist in almost all forums, and some do thrive on trying to attack moderators. But she seems to think that everyone is like that. So someone like you, who had no idea who she was, would react to something she said just like all the other rude forum trolls. Or someone who did know who she was is incapable of being fair and impartial with all her new posts. Her words imply all BA forum users are the same and to me that is very disturbing generalization. This is especially ironic (or even hypocritical) given her reasons for not liking the Brown Angel label. To give her the benefit of a doubt, the best response I can see her taking is that not enough people are reasonable enough to make it worth her time to moderate her tone. But even if that is true then she can’t be looking for a discussion when she can’t be bothered to take the time to reach any of her audience. She might as well write in a language that no one can read. Or just post and then lock the thread to avoid any responses.

    For the record I did try to post two items to her recent blog on the topic. Neither have appeared yet. I tried to be civil and I most certainly was not rude but perhaps I was too critical because I have yet to see them. However, maybe it’s just because it’s the weekend and she hasn’t gotten to it.

  34. Fear the Ban-hammer · ·

    @Matt: No, it just appears as though she’s not really posting much in the way of rebuttals. In fact, it looks like she responded to my comment about the artist’s comments and Candice’s mischaracterization of them without actually posting the comment where I raised those concerns. It seems like she cares for a debate about as much as a politician… :-/

    Oh well…I think everyone has a pretty good grasp on how she operates by now…

  35. Well I just replied again where I said “here is a link to the article by the artist so you can judge for yourself”. Sadly I didn’t copy it word for word before I posted it, but it was only 1 or 2 sentences. Let’s see if that make it.

  36. When I joined BA, it was pretty much right after I started drinking craft beer, and it wasn’t actually to use the forums because it predated my homebrewing. The reason I did was that you can’t actually search on the site without joining. You can see a beer’s page by searching through google or something like that, but not use the site’s search function. It wasn’t like signing up was some big deal–to be honest, I don’t think there’s any reason for you NOT to be signed up for it. Beer Advocate is a resource. It doesn’t matter if it’s partially run by some idiot. It’s where you can go to look shit up. I just take it at face value.

    Plus, the homebrewers there will helpfully answer any question you have.

  37. [...] IPA sparked a number of angry free speech diatribes. And earlier this month, Candice Alström created a firestorm when she used her husband’s influential website, BeerAdvocate.com, to personally bash Clown [...]

  38. My account got locked and I cant even get to the log-in screen now because I stood up and questioned why anyone would support one of C. Alstrom’s overpriced beer dinners after she attempted to blackball a local brewer.

  39. The real clown shoes here are the ones worn (and probably worn out rather quickly under her enormous weight) by Candace. In case the subtlety was lost on you, I’m saying that she is a fat clown. It’s a joke that Todd even allows her to post her idiotic and inflammatory beliefs on the site. Not surprising, because Todd is a power-tripping moron with a skewed sense of reality, but still a joke. BeerAdvocate is going down the tubes, and fast, because of the tools running the site. But hey, you can’t blame fat, ugly, and stupid people for overcompensating for their many flaws. Happens all the time.

    The person I feel really bad for in all this is Jason Alstrom, who is a solid dude. I bet the worst day of his life was his brother’s wedding. He must have been shaking his head and thinking, “Man, I know you’re an fat, arrogant, lame-brained prick who looks like a jacked-up ginger version of Shrek, but seriously, this is the best you could do?” And Candace has been there to ruin his life ever since. Don’t worry Jason, the ban hammer will come down on even you soon enough, and you can get away from those asshats and start over on RateBeer or TheBeerSpot.

    Best of luck to Clown Shoes. Don’t let the nonsensical ramblings of a rabble-rousing idiot get you down. You guys are all right in my book, and my opinion is worth more than Candace’s, because everyone’s opinion is worth more than Candace’s.

  40. I’ve been pretty pissed off since I got banned. Fuck those guys with a rusty shovel.

  41. Disappointed · ·

    Beeradvocate should be renamed Alstromasshatadvocate, because that’s the only thing they advocate for, their own self interest.

    They take these trips all over the world drinking beer, paid for on the backs of user generated content and then ban said users when there is a divergence of viewpoint (if that even). Just as sad, lots of buttkissers on the site defend them. What I truly don’t understand is why they aren’t happier people given all the traveling and beer drinking they get to do?

    The October 2011 purge was unnecessary at every level.

    Someone should make tshirts with the beeradvocate font/colors and have it say BeerAssholes. That would sell big time at beerfests. Could even make some unflattering pics of them on the back (i.e. drawn to scale).

  42. What “October 2011 purge” are you referring to, Disappointed?

  43. I’ve heard they recently got rid of a lot of dissenters who were criticizing the continued lack of a mobile app, the outdated website, disrespectful treatment of members by the site’s admins, and especially changes to forums posting rules where people could no longer comment on ISO/FT-type threads (making it impossible for the community to protect against unfair beer trades). People were even kicked off the site for comments they made on other services, like Twitter.

    I really can’t believe the amount of vitriol I see online right now against the Alstrom brothers, from what I can tell most of it completely deserved (not a big fan of the name calling and fat jokes, but I can see why people are so pissed). I am not and never was an active BA user, but if any disappointed former BA’s want to use the contact form to tell us what happened in more detail, we would keep your information anonymous.

  44. TigersOnCrack · ·

    @Kid Carboy, Jr.

    The October 2011 Purge was a mass banning from BA following both “RIS Night” and “ToadAlstr0m Night” for as little reason as merely posting in a thread mocking the Bros. The ban hammer is being tossed around with little discretion these days. If you think there’s even the slightest chance that what you just posted might displease the Bros and/or Candace in the slightest bit, you’re probably already banned. As offensive as it was to some people, FuhrerTodd may be the most realistic troll account to date.

  45. Interesting…I was curious why some commenters were piling on this post a few months after the controversy. I hadn’t heard about the “October Purge”. I love that it has an official name…

    I can’t personally comment on the Alstroms at all, and I agree with Slouch that the ad hominem attacks don’t really add much to the discussion. That said, it DOES seem like there’s been a tipping point in regards to the public opinion of BeerAdvocate and that most of the negativity stems from animosity towards the folks at the top of the BA food chain.

    I discussed it briefly in the above post, but I think it warrants mentioning again. I firmly believe that BA is big enough and successful enough now that the Alstroms should essentially remove themselves from the picture. Let the public dictate the content. The Alstroms should simply serve as ambassadors for beer and should stay above the fray when dictating the direction of their site. It seems like they still want to be directly involved in all of the day-to-day details of BA which seems foolish at best and impossible at worst. Imagine if Mark Zuckerberg checked every users’ Facebook updates or if Larry Page personally monitored every Google search. The Alstroms have built a highly successful machine…I think it’s time to let it run itself while they focus on making sure it’s as efficient and robust as possible.

  46. I think I know enough about the situation to confidently say they will NEVER do this… far from walking away, there are only 3 people with admin privileges on the BA forums. If anything, they are tightening control. It will be very interesting to see if these shenanigans have an effect on traffic going forward.

  47. Disappointed · ·

    6pack, how can you say it is ‘completely deserved’ if you’re not on BA to even witness the iron fist totalitarian regime? I think you’re calling it like an NFL ref: You threw a flag on the guy who retaliated, not the instigator!

    Nickd, lets meet up at the Bistro Barrel Fest! You are a worthy advocate, this is bullshit! Levi(funk/tation?) you hit the nail on the head.

    Nickd, Ding, Tokerace, Venom. . . all belong back on BA, along with hundreds of others.

  48. Disappointed · ·

    Ah whoops, I misread. . . your observation was the right one, I thought you were saying everyone getting banned deserved it. My bad.

    Anyways, I think you have the gist of what happened. There were 2 funny troll threads, anyone who posted anything in the threads was banned.

    “ROFL” = banned
    “Where’s the BA police” = banned
    “Clown Shoes redux” = banned
    “Cool avatar dude” = banned

  49. [...] course, although different, this stuff goes hand in hand with things like the Clown Shoes debacle, [...]

  50. Candiice Alstrom has no room to criticize anyone for offensive behavior. Whether it’s her BA commentary or her idiotic Twitter tweets – she drops more f-bombs, criticizes those that she doesn’t like and just plan talks sh*t more than anyone I’ve seen participating in public forums in that works in the beer industry. The fact that she doesn’t see her behavior as inappropriate shows her lack of class, that she’s clueless about professionalism and business ethics. Perhaps the labels hit too close to home and remind her of just how much of the classless dirtbaggy tramp she is! There’s nothing wrong with the artwork, the name of the beers or the beers them self – Candice just needs attention…after all she’s an Alstrom!

  51. [...] all possible after reading dozens upon dozens of angry screeds from former BA users who have been mistreated by that organization’s higher-ups. We personally have nothing against BeerAdvocate, but given the choice between the two largest beer [...]

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