A pretty cool thing happened tonight. A group of twenty or so people, led by Jay Brooks of The Brookston Beer Bulletin as the host, got together in a chat room online and, using Twitter, tasted some Trappist beers from Westmalle and Chimay. It’s called Twitter Taste Live, a site that hosts online wine and beer tastings. (So if you were on Twitter tonight and saw a flood of #TTLs in your stream, this explains it as those twenty peoples’ tweets automatically sent that #TTL code in messages to their followers).
It begs the question, “Why haven’t we done this before?” Chat room technology has been available forever. If millions have gone online and played the same computer games together, I am baffled as to why it wasn’t until 2009 that twenty people got together and tried the same beer. That said, not everyone, including one beer author is a fan.
Defending Twitter / Rebutting Crouch
Andy Crouch, author of The Good Beer Guide to New England, echoes what a few posters on Beer Advocate recently said and that is, “Twitter is self-indulgent.” The live tasting concept should shed light on the potential that Twitter has to be much more than that though. And as a breaking news service, for example, Twitter proved to be unmatched again this week when the first reports of the US Airways flight going down in the Hudson River came via Twitter. There are tons of people and services that add value through their 140-character postings on Twitter. Just ignore those who don’t. And for those who don’t want to ‘self-indulge,’ it is pretty easy to use the service as a means of posting links to articles by others.
Back to the subject of the Twitter tasting. Crouch goes after the idea of the online beer pub, describing it as, “You buy the beers, drink them alone in your basement closet, and then post your experiences on Twitter.” The irony, of course, is that Crouch writes for Beer Advocate, a site on which thousands of people buy beers . . . drink them alone and then . . . post their experiences on Beer Advocate. Doesn’t sound much different to you? Me either.
The Twitter Beer Tasting has its pros and cons (pros mostly outweighing the cons) though it has enormous potential.
1) Respected people in the industry like Jay Brooks and Sean Paxton, one of the most prominent beer chefs out there, shared their thoughts on characteristics and pairings for the beers tasted.
2) Others turned out to be quite knowledgeable about the beers as well. It was like watching RateBeer reviews being developed in real-time but with normal sidebar conversation intermingled.
3) These tastings will lead to in-person meet-ups in the future as more people take part.
4) They provide a huge opportunity for some of the bigger craft breweries out there. If a brewer hosts the event, he/she can ask the attendees to buy the brewery’s beer for the tasting. And then you have 20-30 or more people broadcasting tasting notes to hundreds of followers on Twitter about YOUR beer. [I am available for beer marketing/consulting. Low hourly rate. : -) ]
1) Only one though it is pretty big. It is cool that the chatroom posts get broadcast to all of your followers in the sense that people know you are taking part in a live beer tasting. And from a marketing perspective, for the site hosts, it makes sense for that message to get relayed across Twitter virally. However, Twitter was not made for anyone to bombard followers with 30 tweets in an hour. It creates a problem when you want to participate but don’t want all of your chat room posts to go through as tweets. I would recommend adding an option to turn off ‘tweets’ within the chat room, otherwise I would just integrate regular chat software within the site once a good amount of people catch onto these tastings.
Dogfish Head and Southampton Ales tastings are scheduled for spring so we will see if the brewers show up then. I will be sure to post about it here before the next tastings take place.