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Old 10-08-2012, 04:40 PM   #1
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Default Critiquing Friends Beers?

Went camping this weekend and a distant friend, who has just started brewing (less than 10 batches), brought along some of his beer. I was really excited to try it...but it just wasn't good. In fact I even poured some it out when he wasn't looking. It wasn't infected, it was just the classic "new brewer" beer. Thin, a little astringent, not much hop flavor/aroma. Here is the problem...He is really proud of his beer and isn't looking for feedback/critiques. He thinks it tastes pretty good. I remember being the same way as a new brewer. It took entering some comps to figure out that at the time my beers pretty much sucked...even though my friends would never tell me as much. So I guess the question is...do I let him figure it out on his own? Or do I make some suggestions/recommendations even though they weren't asked for? I just don't want to come off as some sort of know it all homebrewer who has it all figured out

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Old 10-08-2012, 04:43 PM   #2
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insult sandwich:

1. I'm glad you're starting to brew - these are great beers to start with as a base.
2. They suck*. Here are several things that you can try to make them better.
3. I would love to brew a batch with you and enjoy this excellent hobby together.

*the strength of how you state this depends on how you relate to your friend.

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Old 10-08-2012, 04:51 PM   #3
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If critique is not solicited I find engaging the brewer in conversation about process, equipment, recipe, etc opens up opportunity to offer suggestions based on experience without putting someone off.

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Old 10-08-2012, 04:54 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by duboman View Post
If critique is not solicited I find engaging the brewer in conversation about process, equipment, recipe, etc opens up opportunity to offer suggestions based on experience without putting someone off.
yeah:

"I made a beer that was quite similar... I found that when I XXX it really improved the YYY"
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Old 10-08-2012, 04:56 PM   #5
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I'm always of the opinion it is better to be completely honest and give positive feedback. Even now in my brewing career that I think my beers are consistently pretty good, I welcome any criticisms. It does nothing for me when people only compliment my beer, and I much prefer when someone tells me something like "it's good, but there's a (fill in the blank) flavor in the aftertaste I don't like". That helps me make better beer.


Having said that, there are a lot of brewers who think their beer is awesome, and can't believe any suggestion to the contrary. If after gently telling your friend how to improve his beer, he denies anything is wrong, it's better to just leave him be.

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Old 10-08-2012, 05:12 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KingBrianI View Post
I'm always of the opinion it is better to be completely honest and give positive feedback. Even now in my brewing career that I think my beers are consistently pretty good, I welcome any criticisms. It does nothing for me when people only compliment my beer, and I much prefer when someone tells me something like "it's good, but there's a (fill in the blank) flavor in the aftertaste I don't like". That helps me make better beer.


Having said that, there are a lot of brewers who think their beer is awesome, and can't believe any suggestion to the contrary. If after gently telling your friend how to improve his beer, he denies anything is wrong, it's better to just leave him be.
Brian, I agree with you. I have a friend who brews and I always am honest. But he WANTS to hear it.

Many newer brewers have the ugly baby syndrome. I've talked about this before, but basically it means that they think their beers are awesome because they made it- just like parents with ugly babies think of their children. If someone has UBS, and they aren't asking for feedback, then I would just clam up. I'd say, "Thank you for sharing with me. No, thanks, I won't have another", and leave it at that unless they really ask and want to know. Otherwise, if they (and all of their other friends) love the beer, they just think you're a big douchebag.

I did a beerswap here on the forum way back when. A guy proudly sent me some of his lagers. He asked me, "Well, what did you think?". I said, politely, "Well, the color is good and the clarity is good but there is a very harsh astringent finish in all of these beers". He said, "Oh, yeah. I noticed that, too. But how did you like it?" I said, "Oh. Well, I'm not a huge lager fan" or something like that. Because you know what? He wanted to hear that his beers were great, and he loved them. And that's the important thing.

If he asks for feedback, be honest. If he doesn't ask, just shut up. That's my motto!
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Old 10-08-2012, 05:30 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by duboman
If critique is not solicited I find engaging the brewer in conversation about process, equipment, recipe, etc opens up opportunity to offer suggestions based on experience without putting someone off.
I agree, opinions are to be given only if requested. This person A) wants to become a better brewer by researching and asking for advice of more experienced brewers, B) is happy with the quality of their beer and sees no need to improve C) and this one really hurts- thinks their beer is awesome and in no way needs improvement, and will forever live in la la land and think everyone likes their beer even though it sucks.

If its A then they will naturally request feedback in order to improve their art- if so feel free to give constructive critisms. If they are too sensitive for feedback or in the B or C categories, sorry your advice will fall on deaf ears :-(
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Old 10-08-2012, 05:42 PM   #8
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I often use the criticism sandwhich approach. I have friend who's beers are real hit or miss (doesn't have temp control) but he will force people to try the good AND the bad. I never want to give any beer I know is bad to friends. I either hold onto it if I think its salvageable or toss it down the drain. Its hard for me when people ask what i think of a really crappy beer, especially if they think its great. I usual put it in a nice way what i dont like about it. I would try and state what you don't like about it and then maybe suggest they should start entering in some competitions.

I am usual my toughest critic though and a lot of times I get the "oh this is great" and I have to try and express where I think it is off. Sometimes my friends can pick up on it, sometimes not. I guess I think my own babies are ugly? haha

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Old 10-08-2012, 06:49 PM   #9
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I've never been insulted receiving criticism. If the beer sucks it sucks. But it could be better. And will get there. If I had a few helpful hints early on I'd have definitely been grateful. If my dinner were over/under cooked I'd like to know.

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