Beer

Breaking Down One-Star Yelp Reviews for Local Breweries

Bierstadt: good beer, bad flags?
Bierstadt: good beer, bad flags? Bierstadt Lagerhaus/Instagram
From entitled customers to incoherent rants, outright lies and completely irrelevant remarks, Yelp can kind of suck sometimes. Did you know that people review the Pacific Ocean on Yelp? One person remarked that it "was no Atlantic Ocean," and another said that it was "stupid." Really?

Yelper behavior was mocked on season nineteen of South Park, though there surprisingly isn't a way to rate that episode on Yelp (yet). There is even a local podcast made by longtime bar pros dedicated to reviewing Yelp reviews.

No one, it seems, is safe from the potentially business-harming consequences of keyboard warriors with a Yelp account — not even the generally friendly, laid-back Denver brewery scene.

Here's a breakdown of some one-star reviews of local breweries, and what we can learn from them:
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A Yelp Elite reviewer gives their throughs on Dry Dock.
Yelp
Aurora's Dry Dock Brewing Company has been a Colorado mainstay for nearly two decades, but this person didn't hesitate to leave it the worst possible rating based on one small interaction.

Imagine standing in line at a busy brewery on a Saturday and when the person in front of you is asked to provide a full name for a tab, they reply with "Anakin Skywalker" and then get upset when the bartender isn't amused. Gosh, that would be frustrating!

The Lesson: When a bartender asks for a name on a new tab, just give them your full name. This should be pretty simple, whether you've been to thousands, hundreds or even zero breweries before. Leave the Star Wars jokes for game night.

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You're flying a flag from another local, top notch brewery? One star.
Yelp
The next one-star victim is 2022 Westword Best Taproom winner Bierstadt Lagerhaus. Bierstadt is known for making some of the finest lagers around, but this review is more concerned with the decor.

For those unfamiliar, the flag referred to represents local standout Comrade Brewing, which Bierstadt has collaborated with on multiple occasions. At least Ethan liked the beer though.

The Lesson:
Focus more on the beer than flags. Or if you focus on the flags, take the time to really look at them. There's a Colorado flag next to the communist Comrade Brewing flag, for example. There's also a Rockies flag, which is okay by us even if we're still a little sour about last year's Nolan Arenado trade.

A bizarre review.
Yelp
The next reviewer didn't even try the beer. Instead, they penned an awkward little rant about large people and metal music. This description of Denver's Black Sky Brewery, known as a metal brewery, reads like something straight out of Hunter S. Thompson's Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.

The Lesson: Do less drugs before entering a brewery? It's really difficult to understand what was happening to the reviewer on this night. You're not in Bloomington anymore.

If you only want samples that are also available to-go, let the server know your intentions up front.
Yelp
This review for Locavore Beer Works reads like a minor and avoidable mishap.This is this common type of one-sided review that contributes to Yelpers having a bad reputation. The customer knows exactly what they want, yet they fail to communicate it and get upset with the server when it doesn't go perfectly.

The Lesson:
Sure, many an attentive server will notice an empty growler and associate the sample order with that growler, telling you what is available to go in case you want to line that up with your samples. Many breweries will simply list what is available to go on their menu (it's unclear if Locavore did). But if the brewery truly failed to do these two things, all the customer had to do was ask what was available to go. The customer is just as lax as the server, but the brewery ends up with a one-star review here, over a very minor infraction.
Coleslaw is usually made with cabbage, therefore it may taste like cabbage.
Yelp
This one-star review for Oskar Blues Brewery in Longmont is utterly mind-boggling. The service is excellent, the ordered food was good and the beer was great.

The Lesson: If you ask the server for their opinion, and they not only tell you that the menu item you asked about is poor, but they even give you a free sample of it, directly improving your (otherwise "great beer and good food") experience, you should consider giving more than a single star to the establishment.
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Ryan Pachmayer is a beer writer living in Arvada. He has written for publications such as Craft Beer & Brewing, Zymurgy, Porch Drinking, Homebrewing DIY and Punch. He is also the head brewer at Yak & Yeti Brewpub, marketing director at New Image Brewing and a BJCP Certified Judge.