New Beers Everywhere, But Buyers Beware

Every few months the interest in craft beer seems to ratchet up a level on every front, more breweries, more beers, more drinkers, more people reporting on it in the news/media.

It is exciting times. But we have entered an age where new and exciting sometime comes before quality. We have opportunists, people that think there is a quick buck to be made and “hey I homebrew, I reckon I could sell my beer”.

We have some new brewers releasing beers that are poor quality, and wholesalers not turning stock, and bar owners not storing beer or cleaning lines frequently enough. Anyone of these, or a combination will lead to a bad tasting beer.

There are many poor examples of beer available on tap and bottle in this country. Rather than repeating what has already been said  have a read of these two very well written lengthy articles.

Dodgy brews bringing industry into disrepute by Geoff Griggs
“The bottom line is there’s too much dodgy beer finding its way on to the market. Beer that’s either oxidised (aged), varies enormously from batch to batch, or exhibits other technical faults. That’s not good enough; such beer brings the entire industry into disrepute.”

The Emperor’s New Suds by Greig McGill
“Why should the consumer have to pay for an experiment which went wrong when the brewer should know damn well the beer should have been dumped? The brewer knows that in most cases the punter will assume “that’s what the brewer meant to do” and if they don’t like it, they must be wrong. The “Emperor’s New Clothes” effect. This is caused by lack of knowledge (and thus confidence) of the average drinker (and bar owner/server) leading to what I see as a lack of respect by brewers serving beer they know (or at least I really hope they know) is less than great because “the punter won’t know any different”. It will get better in time.”

(Greig – some of these brewers don’t know, and the others sending out bad beer just have no pride in their craft. For some it is just a job, or way to make a buck, and they will earn bad karma points which ultimately builds, and then they pay the price. No excuses. I know that over the years I have given up paying money for some well known craft brands, which have had quality issues. I will only go back is someone I trust says how good it is tasting. L)

To be honest though there has always been plenty of offerings of poor to shocking beers available. It just seems now that every man and his dog, or that guy, wants to make their own beer, the offering of these poor beers has multiplied.

Example – one of the leading brewpub chains in the 90’s, The Loaded Hog had a house character that was just diacetyl. You could be guaranteed to get it in at least on beer on tap, if not all. But that being said they can be seen as one of the pioneers for craft beer in New Zealand. How many people that drank Loaded Hog beer went on to become adventurous craft beer drinkers in time?

Some of my first craft beers were Loaded Hog and Dux de Lux beers. Thanks guys.

What is happening is the market is learning, everyone is learning. Those that know need to share their knowledge.

We just need more champions talking more about the bad stuff. I know that I needed to be told when I was first learning the different flavours in beer and what they were called. It is associating a word with a flavour. The first challenge.

Maybe a blog isn’t the best place to call bad beers out? Maybe it is?

Question: If I know a beer is bad technically to the point I wouldn’t drink it, should I share that information? Would you want to know?

Extensive discussion for this question on Facebook (sorry people don’t seem to be using G+)

It’s part of the journey, and for those of use that have been on the ride for a while, seeing others making the mistakes of the past, it can be a bit disheartening.

The fun of it is that beer has become and is becoming more and more interesting, those of us that are wiser know how to avoid the potholes. Hopefully too many don’t give up the journey due to too many bad beers.

Come on young/new brewers ask for some help. Even if it is just sending/or giving a sample to your local friendly brewer for some constructive feedback. Sending out bad beer to the public will do damage to your brand and reputation. The magnitude of this damage is significantly more than dumping a batch of poor quality beer, I can promise you that. It is something you can’t afford to do when starting out. (maybe I should do a piece on “starting out with your new beer?”)

Send it to me if you want, I am always happy to give feedback, and promise it will be direct and to the point, and helpful.

This blog post partly brought to you by the Swine Flu.

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