Running a small business requires determination, vision, a never-ending commitment, and—in the social-media era—a thick skin. Where once customer complaints were made in person and hopefully in a civil way, now sites such as Yelp, Facebook, and Google allow consumers to treat every day like Festivus, airing their grievances, often anonymously.
Brewers are already well-versed in the frustrations that come with the reviews of their beers. Sites such as Untappd, Rate Beer, and Beer Advocate have long given a voice to drinkers who can heap on praise or dole out insults, seemingly at random. Recipes that brewers have put their best effort into are given meager scores or bottle-cap slivers, thanks to consumer preferences, lack of education, or simple spite. Some brewers have chosen to wade into those waters, responding to each commenter. Sometimes these are positive discussions; other times they dissolve into name calling and public-relations nightmares. Middle ground is hard to come by.
When it comes to review sites such as Yelp, the feedback is usually more varied. It’s not just the beer that people comment on, but also the service, the decor, the food (if applicable), and more. These can often be much more of a mirror for brewery owners and managers, offering a look into the everyday items that can be easy to overlook.