Careful, folks. You might need to be of legal drinking age to read this post.
As a beer blogger, I am constantly browsing Web sites to gain information about the breweries that I am examining. At the very least, I check to see if a brewery has a Web site in the first place, so that I can direct my readers, should he or she wish to check out the beer that I am sharing.
The brewery in question has everything to gain by me adding a link to their site.
But every so often, when I find a link to a site and click it, I'm faced with a wall to climb over, a hoop to jump through.
"Are you of legal age?" I am asked. "Are you old enough to view the information on our brewery?" asks another site.
Sometimes, it's a simple Yes or No question. I sigh, click Yes, and continue onto the site.
Other times, I'm asked to produce my birthday: the date, month, and year. If I were to answer honestly, I would scroll through the numbers, months, and years... so many years backwards... to provide the exact date.
I never do that: I pick January 1st and spin the years backwards until they fall somewhere in the past, somewhere more than 20 years ago.
And then I click Enter.
I have to say, it's a real pain in the ass.
If the Internet had been created before I was old enough to drink, and I really wanted to check out my favourite brewery's Web site, I would simply lie my ass off whenever I was faced with one of these speed bumps.
Truthfully, what harm is done by someone reading information on a Web site? What is it that we don't want our youth to see or read on these sites?
It's been said that if we tell someone they can't do something, they want to do it all the more and will try to bend or break the rules to do it. And, by placing such stupid barriers on beer Web sites, we're only feeding a kid's desire to rebel, when we could be doing something much better.
Like, educating them.
I have yet to see these barricades on any European beer sites and have only recently noticed them on Canadian sites. Many American breweries put them up.
If it's the law, challenge that law. What dumb-ass judge thought this legal requirement was a good idea?
If it's simply policy, give your heads a shake. And stop doing it.
In future reviews, if the beer I review has a Web site with one of these age-restricted barriers, I will no longer add their link to my post. In addition, I will state why a beer company has no link on my review: if you simply have no site to see, it's fair that I let people know.
But if you're being stupid with the age thing, it's only fair to protect my readers from having to jump through hoops to learn more about you.
That's what I'm protecting my readers from.