Sat. Jul 20th, 2024

Written by Steve Body, otherwise known as “The Pour Fool.”

Over the past going-on fifteen years of The Pour Fool, there is one thing that has never varied, never really waxed or waned at all, and that is people emailing me with complaints, insults, and "corrections" of things I've written. They email me because I refuse to allow nonsense like "You suck! You now NOTHING about beer (wine)(whiskey)(whatever)!!" onto the site and nothing goes on the site unless I approve it. Many people, improbably, have wailed about "censorship!!", as though The Pour Fool is a public utility or the airwaves.

It's not.

The Pour Fool is wholly owned by me - no partners, no investors, no one even has any oversight except my wife, and she has never uttered a syllable except to say that she doesn't think I should say "fuck" so much.

I've also had some defining moments along these lines. I was contacted by a person on the BeerAdvocate forums, back when I participated in them, who dragged up a review I had written in The Pour Fool, and aired his discontent. "You gave this beer 95 points! We already said what we think of this shit in these forums." I patiently explained that what's in the BA forums has absolutely NOTHING to do with reviews in The Pour Fool, to which he replied, "So, you don't care if nobody reads your shit?" I just asked him what he meant by "nobody". Him and his Mom? Six or eight of his buddies?(At the time, my readership was about 100K a month)

I launched a major rant about the sale of Ely**an Brewing (Now Anheuser Busch Seattle) and took nearly a solid week of static from all sorts of people - brewers, brewery owners, and beer geeks, of course - questioning my right to call two of the former owners of a landmark Seattle brewery idiots for selling out to the primary enemy of craft brewing. Eventually, some of them contacted the Seattle P-I, where The Pour Fool originated, and demanded that they "fire" me. (I wasn't working for them, in the first place) To their credit, the P-I editor called me and just laughed at it. A lot of people mistake seeing their name on a screen, where the whole world can theoretically read it, for some sort of authority. It's kinda pathetic but it's common as dirt.

But that's just lately, in the long scope of things. I've been getting paid to write opinions and everything else under the sun since 1968, when I sold my first article to an old Chicago underground newspaper (Remember those? No? They were kinda, uh, cool, at the time, or so thought all us hippie types.) called The Chicago Eye. It was about student activism on high school campuses around Chicago. And I got my first angry letter a week later. As I recall, it started with, "You suck!"

I've been writing for public consumption ever since. I am maybe a full two decades past a time at which I really cared at all about being called names, having my opinions questioned or disputed, or any such aesthetic considerations. What I valued then and still do, is being called out on factual inaccuracies. I do voluminous research before writing almost anything which deals with my review of anything. I rarely go off half-cocked. I OWN what I write. If someone is capable of making a coherent argument against something I wrote, I am ALWAYS willing and even eager to read it. I've had very few genuine, non-insulting, spirited debates with people, over the years but those dozen or so remain some of my fondest memories of my entire time as a writer. But to get to those, I've had to wade, neck deep, in an ocean of baloney and nonsense and butt-hurt umbrage, usually about nothing that even involves the person replying.

One primary tenet of The Pour Fool is that I NEVER - and I mean NEVERNEVERNEVER - write anything negative about any product or independent producer of anything. I've often challenged complainers to find me ONE example of where I dumped on any maker of beverages by name. No one has ever taken that challenge because I've done it ONLY when a brewery or winery (so far no distilleries) have sold out to Anheuser Busch or another larger corporate interest, and even that is not a hard and fast rule. (I also went ballistic when Founders Brewing had their corporate shenanigans involving racist comments outed and then doubled down and hired attorneys to blame the victim.) I applauded when Duvel bought Ommegang and then Boulevard. Why? Because Duvel is an actual BREWERY and a great one. They don't make hard seltzers or salad spinners or clock radios. Would acquisition by Duvel actually make the brewery BETTER? YES, and it has. When I look at the buyer and see no real care or concern about BEER, I fire out on them. And I am never under the impression that they give a shit but somebody should say these things and I elected me.

Anybody else who wants to chime in is strongly encouraged.

So when people get all wounded by what I write, I don't really get it. About 90% of the complaints have to do with what I DIDN'T write. I didn't properly praise some particular beer or brewery, wine or winery, whiskey or distillery. And it seems like rather a LOT of people see not genuflecting to their pet beverage or producer as a personal attack on their intelligence or tastes. To which I can only add this...

TOUGH shit.

I write OPINIONS. I research, exhaustively, the FACTS that contribute to my opinions but my reviews and producer profiles are ALL, every single word, One Guy's Views. They do not matter AT ALL except for how much you allow them to matter. And that is something that I have ZERO means of affecting and less than zero responsibility for. I write what I honestly think and I THINK before writing it. Sometimes thinking about everything takes two weeks, and sometimes has taken months, but sometimes I think it through in an hour or so and start writing.

It has never happened, in these fifteen years, that someone has argued me out of an opinion. That's mostly because most really don't try, they're far more concerned with their own feelings of being attacked and just want to swing back. They just fling insults. And while I get a chuckle out of reading a lot of them, to date exactly NOBODY has EVER succeeded in making a coherent argument that's changed my opinion. Nobody really starts with a coherent complaint, anyway, just a feeling of offense. And "You suck!" is not a coherent opinion.

This is all to say that I will always welcome feedback but just writing some insult intended to set me straight or cut me down to size is a total waste of your time. It will never, ever appear on The Pour Fool website and will be deleted the moment I read it. I have approval of every comment and I use that. The Pour Fool is NOT a democracy. 

Go ahead and write and say anything you like. But if it doesn't appear and you get hot about it, like I said...

TOUGH shit.

To those of you who read and think and would never dream of flinging insults, THANK YOU for bothering to read. When I started this thing, I had genuine ambition that MAYBE about 150 deeply cranky people would read it. Back in 2011, that figure ballooned out to, at one point, 250,000 - let me say that again: TWO HUNDRED AND FIFTY THOUSAND - hits a month. One post became the largest blog post on beer in internet history, to that time.(!)(?) This SCARED THE LIVIN' SHIT OUTTA ME. I've worked since then at whittling down the readership and, right now, it is very comfortable and I like the readers and, yes, some of the flaming has subsided.

But I still get some Hard Cases, to whom I can only say...your time is yours to waste.



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