Response; “Lady, there are two things I know, one with certainty, one with near certainty. My beer does not taste like shit (certainty), and you don’t really know what shit tastes like (can’t be certain of that).
This was an actual exchange I had with a person at a brewers night at one of our fine local establishments. I should have expected it. I approached a table of people who were obviously A) drunk as shit (certainty) and B) not craft beer drinkers (not certainty, going on stereotypes). After tasting one of our lighter offerings, Biere De Garde if I recall, this statement was made. And to be fair Biere De Garde is brown and has some ‘earthy’ flavors. Not that I know what shit tastes like, but I know what it smells like and can confidently surmise the flavors are necessarily dissimilar.
The point here is that tastes are different. The cretin who made this observation was clearly stating a difference in taste. Biere De Garde is one of our finest and most widely appealing beers, but compared to her Monarch Vodka and reconstituted orange juice beverage, it just wasn’t to her liking.
The conversation about ‘rating’ beer and ‘dissing’ breweries for making bad beers has been growing ever more heated. Breweries are belly-aching about being unfairly criticized for making ‘bad beer’. Enthusiasts are claiming freedom of speech with greater intensity. While I have no solution to this conflict, I feel some education could be helpful.
In a perfect world we would have a rating system that had some caveats. Here are some options for keeping the vocal among us, and the brewers happy;
1. 5 Stars -This is a well made beer, my tastes and tourettes compel me to say ‘it tastes like shit’.
2. 1 Star- But keep in mind I am an idiot who thinks I know everything there is to know about beer because I watched Beer Wars and rate everything that is not oak-aged or from my favorite brewery with a one-star.
3. No Rating. This beer smells like a dirty bandage and is therefore infected and can not be judged. Get your shit together, offending brewery, clean up the process and try again. Surely whatever you intended will have some merit once the bugs are out.
This last rating compels me to turn the discussion over to Tyson, our head brewer, to talk about the difference in flaws (bad beer, unless of course you like it, then we are down to taste again) and designed differences. I personally dislike most Belgian-style beers and sour beers (sophomoric, I know) but I will go to great lengths to determine if I think a beer is well made (For example, I went through two cases of Four Loko trying to quantify the quality level of process and ingredients). They are ‘designed’ to taste like shit, to me, but I know they are not necessarily bad beer. While I don’t like Belgians, many people do and I would be a fool to rate Hennepin a one star, because that is the one Belgian-style that I actually do like. The rest get a one star.
Stay tuned for Tyson’s installment. It will be forthcoming in a week or two.