I recently joined a couple of new online social networking sites which have their focus on beer. Although social and online might be somewhat exclusive terms, such online communities have become quite a phenomena. Witness the growth of Facebook and MySpace. (Neither of which I have accounts on.)
Democracy's Drink, "devoted to beer and the people who enjoy it" was founded by Rich Gallagher in July of 2007. Rich describes his thoughts behind the site in Beer, Blogging, and the Pursuit of Content. The membership role is approaching 200 beer lovers as of this writing. I ran into a lot of familiar faces when I joined the community. My member page on Democracy's Drink is here.
The Aleuminati is another new online beer community, and is described as "an online community of men and women dedicated to the preservation, propagation and proclamation of fine ales, lagers and specialty beers." The Aleuminati site was begun by Shawn, the Beer Philosopher in January of this year. You can find me on The Aleuminati here.
In addition to these communities, several beer-related forums have been a mainstay for online sharing of information. While not offering as much interaction between members as the social networking sites, RateBeer, BeerAdvocate and RealBeer are the most well-known online beer sites. Each of these offers something slightly different and they each have a different temperament to the discussions. I would suggest "lurking" a while to get a feel for the neighborhood before contributing to the discussions on any of the sites. These sites are excellent resources when researching new beers to try, or when planning a trip.
Now, if all of these sites aren't enough to fill your quest for craft beer information, there are hundreds of blogs on the subject as well. Blogs tends to be more of a one-way communication channel, but most do allow reader comments. You'll find a list of the blogs I read regularly on the left side of this page. For even more, see the list of nearly 200 beer blogs at the really simple BEER syndication site.
Links to all of the mentioned sites can be found in the sidebar to the left. If we aren't able to enjoy a beer together in person, I hope to see you in one of the online communities. Pour a beer and stop by and say "hi".