Thursday, June 21, 2012

What victory? An open letter to Yael T. Abouhalkah

Victory is an interesting word. It typically implies that the winning party has been engaged in some type of battle or challenge in which they came out on top.

So, Yael T. Abouhalkah, I'm still trying to wrap my head around why you decided to use the word 'Victory' in your latest Kansas City Star 'Midwest Voices' post when referring to Boulevard Brewing Company's decision to cease production of Chocolate Ale in 2013. When nobody was looking, were you on some crusade, petitioning the dramatic end of Chocolate Ale because of the havoc it wreaked on the city? Has there been some campaign over the past few months that I, along with everyone else in Kansas City, missed?

I do recall you writing a similarly unfounded, illogical blog post back in late January/early February where you made lots of references to the 'hype', 'marketing savvy' and 'outrageous prices' surrounding Chocolate Ale. That post alone quickly pointed out how naive and uninformed you were (and clearly still are) when it comes to today's craft beer industry.

So again, what exactly is this victory you speak of?

Is it because now Chocolate Ale no longer has to bring national exposure to two local businesses and stimulate the local economy? Yeah, I mean, I can totally see how you would hate that. Why would we want another revenue stream for Kansas City, right? Boo money! Victory!

Or maybe it's because you didn't like the taste of the beer. After all, you have referred to it as 'overrated.' Wait, that certainly couldn't be it, BECAUSE YOU DON'T DRINK. Although, maybe you had friends that tasted it and didn't like it, is that it? It makes sense that you might draw an opinion based on someone else's opinion. I'm sure your Kansas City Star colleagues that review restaurants and movies regularly base their reviews on the thoughts of others rather than tasting the food or watching the film themselves. Responsible journalism, right?

You complain about hype. But what is hype? It's buzz, it's excitement. What on earth is the problem with hype for a local business' product? I can't begin to list the number of places and events in Kansas City that get ridiculous amounts of hype, some way more deserved than others. Why is that something to bash? If people are excited about something, and want to spend their money on something, who are you to rain on the parade and say that they shouldn't?

Of course, judging by your history of editorial posts, tweets, etc., you have a penchant for calling things overrated and reaching to find any reason to hate something that boosts the local economy or helps this city make forward progress. Why should we expect anything different with Boulevard and a product they created?

In the end, the only logical conclusion is that you are being inflammatory for the sake of being inflammatory. Not because you have actual reasoning or logic behind your strong, naysaying opinion, but because you seem to get some kind of pleasure out of constantly being the dissident voice. Once again with your 'victory' claim, you show just how little respect you have for the people who worked so hard to put this product out, distribute it and get it into the hands of customers, plus the people of Kansas City who do enjoy this beer and look forward to buying it.

You have no victory here. The only tally you can mark is in a mental 'W' column, because in your own mind, you win for rubbing people the wrong way. You are entitled to your opinions. And so am I. But the funny thing about opinions is that a lot of them stink, and your opinions on Chocolate Ale stink a lot more than waiting in line or paying $9 for a bottle of beer. If being hostile and disagreeable is what you consider a victory (and judging by your Twitter comments yesterday, you do), then okay, you win. But don't expect any congratulations.

I was already looking forward to Chocolate Ale returning in 2014, maybe with a tweaked recipe or a new logistical approach to how the beer is sold in order to organize the chaos a bit. But now I have another reason to look forward to it being released again; to irk you and watch you scramble once again to hate something for no reason.

Chocolate Ale may not be the greatest thing ever fermented and it may not change the world, Mr. Abouhalkah, but it boils (pun intended) down to this: I'd much rather drink an 'okay' beer that creates excitement, brings exposure to craft beer and stimulates the local economy than the bitter Kool-Aid of a disillusioned, eternally negative editorial writer.



  1. Thanks for reading.

  2. It is tough being a curmudgeon, fine line between ass and jerk that few can walk. Remember Andy Rooney fondly? I hope he is burning in mother f'ing hell now. He was a jerk.

    Chocolate Ale hype was great. People running around caring about a local beer. The type of stuff that has to happen to make buy local work. We need outrageously in demand local products to produce motivation to produce great products. You don't get Chocolate Ale, we get that. What we don't get is why. You don't drink so you have no skin in the game.

    I don't think many avid beer fans thought much of Chocolate Ale, even if you got a good bottle or found it on tap it was just a novelty. Boulevard produces some insanely good beers, its investing in the local economy, and is a great ambassador for Kansas City.

    One last thing I hope you die in some form of auto-erotic asphyxia sex game gone awry with a smokestack of Chocolate Ale stuck in your ass.

    Love and kisses

  3. The Kansas City Star is still exists? Wow. No wonder ol' Yael keeps thanking people for reading, it must be rare anyone does.

  4. Wow, that seems extreme. Anyway, I have known a few non-drinkers who vocally "don't get the hype" around beer, and that's to be expected. When those types have a soapbox, it's also expected they'll spout off about it. The part about this being a victory is odd at least, stupid at best, but otherwise you have a non-drinker talking about how stupid alcohol is, so let's ignore him and go back to talking about beer—no chocolate ale aside, this has been a great year for Boulevard beers, and it's going to get even better.

  5. I was going to throw in a sarcastic "Thanks for reading" but Yael beat me to it.

  6. I am an employee of the fine company that distributes Boulevard's products including the Chocolate Ale, and the buzz surrounding the release of this year's batch definitely helped the sale of Boulevard's other products. I receive a certain percentage of everything we sell, and I will say without being specific that February was a good month for my household. After hearing this news I anticipate our numbers looking a little different in 02/2013. So there's a third company that is affected by this Victory. What a glorious day for Yael.


  8. @Anonymous Distributor Employee - But don't you understand, it doesn't matter if your household is financially impacted as long as Yael doesn't have to deal with the 'silly hype!'

  9. Yael T. Abouhalkah is obviously a communist working for Obama who is against anyone having and prosperity.

  10. I inderstand - and this is strictly on the qt you understand - that Yael actually loved Boulevard's Chocolate Ale. Indeed, he loved it so well that he overdid it.

    Oh, not à la Limbaugh; stumbling-and-falling-down-while-ranting-nonsense (though, really: who could tell?)

    No, Yael imbibed so much Chocolate Ale he broke out with a severe case of acne, to the point where he stayed out of public for weeks on end (one of the gentleman's few failings is vanity - he's convinced he looks like a young Omar Sharif.)

  11. Exactly the right tack on this one Pat. You don't like Chocolate Ale, fine. You think the opportunity cost of Chocolate Ale is an even better beer for Boulevard, great, that's a fine criticism. But to consider it a victory that a beloved local product won't be coming back next year is really kinda stupid. I just don't even understand his argument, but at the end of the day, when your argument is all of 3 sentences long, you may not have thought things through in the first place.

    Journalists are so much more professional than bloggers donchaknow.

  12. I love that the comment box under his entry has a friendly reminder to "be nice". After reading some of his entries I'm guessing Yael has never scrolled down that far. I was as nice as I found myself capable of being anyway.

  13. The buzz surrounding Chocolate Ale was/is great for the local craft beer market, but the beer wasn't very good. Of course, my opinion. Everyone has a different pallet. There are better Chocolate ales in the market.

  14. @Anonymous Distributor Employee don't worry, Central States will just make up the difference by charging more for boulevard products that any other market! Good thing devotion to a quality hometown product will continue to be profitable, and thats even before you guys add the extra $2 a bottle of love child! I look forward to buying some $15 collaboration #3, you guys are just the best!

  15. Yael would've lasted 1 day at the Star during the golden years. Those guys knew how to drink. AND they were fine journalists.

    Alas, nowadays.....

  16. The joke's on you because you're doing exactly what he wants: talking about him and his columns and drawing more attention to him. It's better to be loved or hated than to be ignored. I can honestly say I haven't read a word that man has written in at least 15 years and his name hasn't crossed my mind in as many years. Until today.

    So, your 'open editorial' IS a victory for him.

  17. Guess Yael had a slow news day and couldn't think of new ways to bash the fire and police department...