Voting Towards Mediocrity – A Rant.

This is a rant. A rant composed because I’m tired of Denver’s brewing industry being something that is cashed in on by folks who have no business dealing with beer. In this case: Denver’s KDVR. You know, FOX.

Right now, Denver’s KDVR is hosting some kind of ill-thought chimera of “World Cup meets Denver’s Breweries” thing where you can vote your favorite brewery into the next round. It is, ultimately, an insulting piece of bullshit. And I say this considering every other web-page in existence. I think so poorly of it I wont even link to it here.

This contest is a play by KDVR’s online content director in an attempt to increase pageviews and their audience in order to ensure the validity of their job for another fiscal year. I would know, I’ve been in that position before. Wondering what in the world can be done to keep their web property and brand relevant to a market that probably doesn’t give a damn about them anymore. The news market is saturated and those tasked with bringing us the news, like KDVR, are chasing around revenue and missing out on the important things, like bringing us the news.

So when you reach the edge of your audience, why not borrow the audience of others? This is a common practice in the blogosphere. The Wagon gets a fair bit of traffic thanks to our friends and partners at Imbibe, FermentedlyChallenged, or any of a dozen other blogs tied to our contributors. But we haven’t yet dived off to the point of “let’s drink beer and pretend to care about the World Cup.” And if we did, it wouldn’t be “here’s a silly contest to vote in.” But it would likely be Chris Bruns writing 1,000 words about the styles of booze popular in whatever country just took a loss that day.

Like the fat kid doing a cannon ball at the country club pool, KDVR is diving into a mix where they barely belong. They have World Cup ad budgets to spend. But since most people in Denver could really give a damn about the World Cup, they have little realistic content to put around it. Instead, they mixed world cup with the Denver Brewing industry to find a collection of pageviews to sell more ad space.

If this sounds dumb, it’s because it is.

A handful of other reasons this contest is dumb, if not malicious:

This has nothing to do with beer, the quality of beer, or who makes the best beer. This is a “what business do you frequent the most” survey. It’s like when Westword or 5280 does its Best Of whatever every year. The first round is a write in, the next round you barely vote for anything because do you really care who the best newscaster is? And, yes, with as many breweries that there are here in Denver, there are plenty of them who make truly horrendous beer. Yet, these breweries will still garner votes because, as noted, this is not about beer.

This is about money and advertising. Ultimately, the only thing this serves is KDVR who is, ultimately, only responsible to the advertisers that allow to keep them on the air. If it wasn’t, it would exist on an independent domain and the page would be devoid of advertising. If they wanted to actually serve Denver’s beer-enthused public, there would be some kind of option here to sign up for news and updates about the contest or information about the breweries mentioned in the poll.

Breweries lose focus. I have received two dozen notices in the past 24 hours by email, twitter ,and text from breweries suggesting that I go and vote for them on this contest and tell others in my various networks to do the same. You know what I would have rather received? Two dozen messages from various mediums saying “Fuck voting, we’ve got this new beer you should come drink.” FOX’s contest is not an extension of marketing. All the breweries thrown into this mix are not gaining anything unless they are the absolute winner. Even then, who is going to come from miles around to drink at the brewery named “Best Whatever” by a KDVR voting poll?

We didn’t hear about it. Formerly editing the Wagon, I still get press releases from everyone about all the goings on in the beer industry. Never got a press release about this. I had to find out about it via text message. Not a link or a hashtag or even another of my brewery hopping pals. A text message. Like it is 2004 or something.

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The organizers of this contest at FOX have little idea what they are doing. In the first run, Hops & Pie was an option for the best brewery. I love Hops & Pie, great pizza and a knockout tap list. But, they aren’t a brewery. What does this mean? The Organizers of this silly little survey-cum-competition didn’t do any kind of outreach or research before they slapped together a list they likely copied from Fermentedly Challenged’s regional lists  If this is even half true (and I suspect it might be) double shame on Fox for being the corporate entity that snags from the independent guy without giving credit. What are you, BuzzFeed?

This is democracy: inviting anyone and everyone to vote in something they probably don’t know a whole lot about. In this case, breweries they’ve likely never been to all of. Also, anyone can vote as many times as they want. Also, there’s a huge security hole where, if I were so inclined, I could run a script in my browser and shower thousands upon thousands of votes on whatever brewery I choose.

Some of these places aren’t even open yet. Or they have just opened. Or they have been barely open a week.  How can you be the best of anything if you aren’t open yet? Of course, I have every faith in the world that each brand new brewery in Denver will knock it out of the park eventually, but it is very difficult for me to determine the quality of a beer, brewery, etc when there is still a padlock on the door and you’re waiting for the city to come and turn your water on.

You have Miller Coors as an option for a vote. Therein, your point is invalid.

This is an invite for more debate on all the wrong platforms. This is only inviting more links and SEO prowess that benefits the one organization that it shouldn’t: KDVR Fox. Note that on the contest page there is not a single link to any of the breweries’ websites, Facebooks, Twitters, or whatever. After the winner is announced, the debate will be sparked over who actually deserved it and who has better beer, etc. And you know who that debate will actually serve? KDVR Fox.


IN SUMMATION if you are going to support your favorite brewery, then just support them. Go there, drink their product, bring a new friend or two along to spread the love a little further. Or, if you happen to find the contest, everyone should go and vote for MillerCoors (or AC Golden, essentially the same company, and further evidence of how poorly planned this all was). That way, at the end of it all, KDVR can name MillerCoors as the winner of their contest. Yay.


About David Pennington

Denver based writer and editor. Managing Editor of Denver Off The Wagon. Usually up to some kind of delinquency. Photos of dogs, beer, and gnarly knee scars over at

  • Scott

    funny how your own blog is telling people about vote for us in 5280 top of the town…..

    • Sean M. Buchan

      Top of the Town is an actual award with merit. This isn’t a rant against every award ever given out. People still deserve to win Oscars, but you aren’t nominated for one before you’ve finished shooting the movie.

  • Will Holden

    Hey there, David Pennington and Denver Off The Wagon! Full disclosure, my name is Will Holden and I’m the “malicious” KDVR online content director referred to in the piece above.

    First and foremost, thanks for checking out the Colorado Brewery Cup (#COBreweryCup) and for taking the time to weigh in on it. Everyone is entitled to an opinion, and frankly, we’re happy to see our tournament is being discussed by Colorado beer connoisseurs such as yourselves as well as the more casual beer drinker — both in Colorado and beyond — that tends to comprise our audience.

    As I read your rant, I couldn’t help but be reminded of a scene in one of my all-time favorite movies, “High Fidelity.” Leading up to applicable scene, Rob Gordon (John Cusak) refuses to sell a record to a potential customer he has deemed a square, at which point his friend Louis (Alex Désert) chimes in…

    Louis: I don’t have that record… I’ll buy it for $40.
    Rob: Sold.
    Louis: Now why would you sell it to me and not to him?
    Barry: Because you’re not a geek, Louis.
    Louis: You guys are snobs.
    Dick (Todd Louiso): No, we’re not.
    Louis: Yeah, seriously, you’re totally elitist. You feel like the unappreciated scholars, so you s*** on people who know lesser than you.
    Rob, Dick, Barry (Jack Black): No!
    Louis: Which is everybody…
    Rob, Barry, Dick: Yeah…
    Louis: That’s so sad.

    In this real-life scenario, you would be the scholar — the idea that you may or may be unappreciated is neither here nor there, in my mind — and I would be the square. Another difference between the High Fidelity scene and our scenario: I don’t find you taking the time to very publicly voice your displeasure with me and KDVR’s Colorado Brewery Cup to be sad. I think it’s only human nature that when you’ve taken the time to become an expert on a topic, which you certainly have when it comes to Denver beers, that it would be irritating when someone like myself, an admitted square, comes wandering into your neck of the woods in a manner that displeases you.

    You’re calling me ignorant when it comes to the finer points of the topic that is Colorado brewing, and I have no huge problem with that. In fact, there’s probably a great body of evidence that proves you’re knowledge of this realm vastly exceeds my own. So in an effort to pay you the respect you have earned as an expert, let me take a moment to address each of your concerns. And in the process, my apologies if I shed any light on the idea that you seem to know equally little about our company and the motivations behind this tournament.

    1. This contest is being produced by Denver’s KDVR. You know, FOX — It is quite correct to say this contest was put on by KDVR. It is categorically false to refer to us as FOX. We are a privately owned FOX affiliate, carrying the network’s prime-time entertainment programming. We are owned by Tribune Co., and not by FOX or its parent company, News Corp.

    2. This has nothing to do with beer — Hard to argue with you here. We’d say our tournament has more to do with breweries, in which voters can take a tap room’s ambiance or even food into account. In fact, we’d say this tournament isn’t even about seeking to crown Colorado’s best brewery. It’s about trying to honor our voters’ favorite brewery. You might consider some of beer produced by the breweries in this tournament terrible. Someone else might consider them great. And I guess we don’t consider it as insulting as you if someone happens to disagree with us. We’d go so far as to say that being disagreed with kind of comes with the territory of working in an industry where you’re constantly under public scrutiny.

    3. Breweries lose focus — You’re welcome to speculate, but as company that likes to focus on objectivity when possible, we prefer more concrete facts. All we can say for sure is that Kannah Creek (, Copper Kettle (, WeldWerks (, Vindication (, Caution Brewing (, Loveland Aleworks (, Twelve Degree (, Manitou Brewing (, Mountain Toad (, Butcherknife Brewing (, Crazy Mountain (, Odd13 (, Eddyline (, Left Hand (, Tommyknocker (, Big Choice (, Jagged Mountain (, Steamworks (, Black Shirt (, Prost (, New Belgium (, Odell (, Golden City (, have personally reached out to us to say thank you for helping them gain some exposure. If you don’t believe me, feel free to contact them at the provided email addresses.


    • D.T. Pennington

      I get it. You have a job to do, a quota to hit just as anyone else would. I guess I could have just let this die into irrelevancy. But when my feeds are choked with a 1,001 links to YOUR site alarm bells go off.

      If you wanted any sort of praise, you’d link back out to the breweries you’re using to garner ad impressions. Not just a twitter handle in your endless feed, but a hard link.

      And when this is all said and done, what then? Will the brewing industry be better for it? In four years, when the next “cup” comes around will every brewery in the state be dying for the validation of KDVR? Probably not. But for the months of June and July, you’ve made your quota by doing the same ol’ same old.

      But of course all those breweries send their regards! But I’ve got just as many emails agreeing with my point of “you’re right, these contests are always bullshit” (many, I might add, are on the list you presented above) but aren’t necessarily forward about it since, you know, public realm and “any publicity is good publicity” and don’t wish to alienate any potential customer base. And as you know, none of the breweries on your list were asked if they wished to participate.

      Alas, congrats on your page-view boon. Maybe you’ll get back to focusing on local news that folks could actually use.

      • Anonymous

        I agree with David. If KDVR is trying to help out these small breweries and raise awareness where are their links? I don’t see any links to their website or social media outlets which means they are not generating new followers. Instead, it would appear that KDVR has devised a clever way to generate traffic using the social media followers of breweries. Is that brewery winning their bracket because people really love their taproom or are they winning because they decided to go to social media and send their followers off to vote for them? Will, you posted all of the people that thanked you for creating this competition. Clearly those people are sending their followers your way to vote for them. I doubt it is a coincidence that if you look through the bracket all of those breweries are sitting pretty high up on that list. This seems a little more like a “you scratch my back I’ll scratch yours” scenario. They send you web traffic, you send some less educated beer consumers their way. If I didn’t know a whole lot about craft beer I think I would be hitting the breweries at the top of your list with 500 votes before I wen’t to that brewery that is brand new and has 8 votes (with no explanation that just opened or maybe aren’t even open yet). In fact, I might even get a bad idea about that brewery who got 8 votes. You can’t be that great if those are all the people who like your place right? All I can say, is I see the list of breweries that are playing these silly games and I lost some respect for them.

  • Logan

    When I first went to the link I immediatly felt like this contest shit all over the smaller Denver breweries. Lowdown and Denver Pearl are two very new breweries, but serve better beer than most breweries that have been around for a few years. So now the average reader of a local news affiliate looks at these wild results and says, “Oh they came in last place they must make bad beer im not going there!” Shame on you KDVR. Stick to braodcasting weather/traffic/breaking news.