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Rob2010SS

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I'm sure there's a ton of people who have gone to a brewery and had terrible beer. It happens to all of us. My question to you is: Do you say anything to the brewer about it?

My wife and I just visited a brewery that opened somewhat near us. They had a NEIPA on tap so we figured we'd try that as we knew we were going to be one and done anyway. You ever seen those pictures online where people are talking about NEIPA's and oxidation and how they almost turned purple? That's what came out of the tap when this guy poured our beers - a purple NEIPA. We took them to the outside beer area and drank them. As it was pretty slow, the guy talked to us for a little bit and he's the owner/brewer. He asked us what we thought of the beer and I didn't have the heart to tell him what I really thought so I told him it was good....

The one thing I always ask people when we share our beers is honest feedback. I don't care if you hated it, but I want to know the truth. It only helps us get better. Don't tell me you loved it if you hated it, but tell me WHY you hated it. While I ask that of people, I didn't do that in this case.

What do you guys do at commercial breweries when you come across this?
 

rburrelli

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You should have been straight with him. If the beer was not good you should let him know. Qualify that with you also being a brewer and he should accept the constructive criticism.

I have not had this happen yet at a brewery or taproom, but I did get a pretty bad pour of a pale ale at a street festival jockey box. I did not say anything because it was drinkable but not up to par.
 
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Yooper

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I don't go looking to give criticism. We have one brewery in our county, a tiny one, and their beer sucks. I want to like it, so I've tried a couple of times. When I mentioned to them that the pale ale was a little off, they looked at me like I was a trouble maker and walked away. I haven't been back.

Now, if he came up to me and asked, I would definitely mention a few of the flaws. I never tell anyone that I"m a beer judge unless they ask. Sometimes I've had great conversations with brewers (and became friends with some of them), other times, they don't care what I think.
 
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Rob2010SS

Rob2010SS

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You should have been straight with him. If the beer was not good you should let him know. Qualify that with you also being a brewer and he should accept the constructive criticism.

I have not had this happen yet at a brewery or taproom, but I did get a pretty bad pour of a pale ale at a street festival jockey box. I did not say anything because it was drinkable but not up to par.
Yeah I know I should have. I regret not being honest with him.

The other thing that I happen to know is that he's an extract brewery on a commercial scale which is almost unheard of. At least I don't know of any commercial breweries that are using extract.
 
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Rob2010SS

Rob2010SS

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I don't go looking to give criticism. We have one brewery in our county, a tiny one, and their beer sucks. I want to like it, so I've tried a couple of times. When I mentioned to them that the pale ale was a little off, they looked at me like I was a trouble maker and walked away. I haven't been back.

Now, if he came up to me and asked, I would definitely mention a few of the flaws. I never tell anyone that I"m a beer judge unless they ask. Sometimes I've had great conversations with brewers (and became friends with some of them), other times, they don't care what I think.
Yeah I'd imagine that being a judge could cause some intimidation on their end.

Like I said above I regret not telling him. I would have wanted to know but I also wouldn't have served it if it were mine.
 

seatazzz

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I've had two experiences along this line. The first one, a few years back, the husband and I were at a brewpub somewhere (can't remember which one) and ordered a flight. All but one of the beers, what was supposed to be a hoppy amber, were pretty good; the amber was gross, to be blunt. Horrible bandaidy flavor, just nasty. The barman asked us what we thought, and instead of telling him the amber was swill, I asked if he knew anything about the slight off-flavor (I was trying to be nice). After looking about to see if anyone was listening, he admitted that they all knew it was crap but it was a huge batch and they were trying to get rid of it. I had already told him I was a homebrewer and we'd chatted for a bit. Funniest part of that visit was listening to a table behind, full of hipsters (get offa my lawn!!) rave about it. Husband and I just looked at each other and sniggered. The other time, was at a now-defunct tiny brewpub (run out of the guy's backyard) that had apparently won many awards for his stouts. I was in the mood for an IPA and ordered one. OMG it was even worse than the amber at the other place; no hop flavor, just a bad bad bad beer. This time, when the guy behind the taps asked (I was the only patron at the time), I said it was fine. Hated myself for lying, but something about the place made me a bit suspicious. Huge beautiful fermenters, all shiny and new, but not a lot of knowledge behind them. I've since learned, from a co-worker who is friends with the former owner, that he opened the place without a lot of preparation and his process was screwy.
 

Carolina_Matt

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I wouldn't have the heart to be honest. Heck, most people say they like my beer but I have no clue if they really mean it. People try to be nice, rather than honest.

We have a local place that just opened up during the COVID shut-down. Their first few weeks were to-go orders. I stopped by a couple weeks ago and bought a few cans to go (two separate 4-packs, and two Crowlers). The beer was good, but some of the pricing was bonkers. They currently sell two of their beers in 4-packs, and it's $16 (although I bought it on a Sunday, when it was on sale for $12). Most places around here charge closer to $12-13 for a 4-pack, so they were on the higher end.

One of the two beers is a golden ale, 3.8% alcohol and 8 IBU. As a homebrewer, I know how cheap it is to make low alcohol, low IBU beer. But if he asked my opinion, there's no way I'd say it tastes fine but you're charging at least twice what it's worth.
 

madscientist451

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I've had more than a few mediocre/crappy small brewery beers, but.....
My momma used to tell us kids: "If you don't have something nice to say then don't say anything at all"
So unless the brewer directly asks me ( and then I'll ask him/her if they want an honest answer)
I'm keeping quiet.

:mug:
 

day_trippr

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Frankly it's a good thing I brew because there's a lot of mediocre -> bad beer out there.
My wife and I hit a local restaurant last fall that sported their own glassed in nano brewery and had a flight of four pretty bad beers, some because of just bad recipes, the others had obvious quality defects. I wasn't going to discuss the fine points with the lovely lass serving us so we just X'd that place off our list.

Another place near us served a horribly oxidized IPA and as we were seated at the bar I sent it back. The next beer came in a freshly chlorinated glass so I sent that back, too. Third try was just a meh beer so that was the last time we went there.

Whenever we're out and about we like to pop into places for a pour, but honestly, outside of the well-regarded breweries here there's a lot of sketchy beer, and you never know what you're going to get.

The solace is knowing there's a half dozen tasty beers on tap waiting at home...

Cheers!
 

SEndorf

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An interesting question. Pre COVID I would frequent many pubs and restaurants - some with fantastic brews, some with pond swill.
My experience is the owners / servers don't typically appreciate a critique from someone they don't know. They have too much experience from idiots who complain that the IPA they ordered is "too hoppy", or the hefeweizen they ordered "tastes like bananas"...so they tend to discount what you might have to say as constructive criticism. I just don't participate in the fight. Too many good beers out there. I don't need to educate those that don't know. I'll drink my own beer...….
 

Qhrumphf

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A lot of pros don't know what they're doing, and neither do a lot of homebrewers.

If the brewer is any good, and the product is rubbish, odds are they know it already. It's a sad reality that sometimes to makes ends meet brewers have to put product out that's not up to their standards. This is particularly true when a brewery first opens, but even down the line it still happens. Ideally bad beer gets dumped, but not always.

In that case, your criticism probably won't be helpful.

If they don't know there's anything wrong with it, you might well be dismissed as "just some homebrewer who doesn't know what they're talking about" whether you're right or wrong.

In either case, unsolicited feedback probably isn't going to do any good. But if they ask you for feedback, read the room. I have friends ask me and I'm honest. Often time if I'm not close with the brewer I smile and nod and finish my pint (or slyly dump it out if it's that horrible) and leave.
 

Dustin_J

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There's plenty of mediocre craft beer around here (and plenty of good beer too), but my SOP is to give any microbrewery a chance and just not go back if I can't find something I enjoy after trying a few.

One place really sticks out, though, and it's a shame because it's only about a block from where I park at work. I've been there twice - the first time I had a Porter (watery, astringent, & acrid) and a pale ale (very little hop aroma/flavor, but a ton of coarse bitterness and minerality - like they just shoveled gypsum into the strike water). This was at about 4:30 on a weekday, and it was me and two other guys (who clearly weren't big craft beer drinkers) at the bar. The owner/brewer talked non-stop about how they were drinking the best craft beer in the St. Louis metro, how his lagers (which looked awful - I just couldn't bring myself to try one) were as good as anything in the world, etc. Just completely full of hot air.

I got dragged back there a few weeks later for work happy hour and begrudgingly tried an american amber. Same lack of hop flavor/aroma as the pale ale, but this time just soaking in oxidized crystal malt flavor. Bartender/brewer still yacking non-stop to whoever would listen too. It's the only happy hour I can remember where I had less than 1 drink.
 

day_trippr

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Yeah, to your point, there's really not enough "in it for me" to get into it with the proprietor - who usually isn't around anyway, so now you're going to deal with someone who may have pretty much nothing invested in the whole deal?

Life's too short as it is. We simply choose not to return and let the chips fall where they may...

Cheers!
 

myelo

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My experience has been brewers appreciate unsolicited criticism of their beers at about the same rate parents appreciate unsolicited criticism about how to raise their kids.

But if they ask and I get the vibe they really want feedback I'll give them my thoughts. But I always stress it's my subjective preference because I am in no way qualified to be judging beers (I can't even spell BJCP). So I'll say stuff like "I really enjoyed this." or "That's not really my favorite kind of beer but I'm glad I tried it."
 

TheMadKing

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I have not found that professional brewers give a single flying flip about a single consumer's feedback on their beer. It doesn't matter if I'm a brewer, a beer judge, every time I have tried to offer anything constructive to a local brewer my feedback has been met with eithe hostility, defensiveness, or completely ignored

Local brewpub opened and was having a number of issues: under attenuated beers, very cloudy beers, off flavors, and foamy pours because they were trying to pull pints straight off the bright tanks.

I chatted with the brewer and very politely suggested that he might need to look at his calcium levels, and his wort pH because his cream ale was totally opaque and he laughed me off as an idiot because "his beers are unfiltered and that's how they are supposed to look"

I politely finished my beer, went home, sent him a picture of my crystal clear unfiltered Helles and have never gone back.
 

Lefou

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Hmmm... I don't say nothin'.
I just pay my bill, leave, and never come back. On a lark I visited one of the popular German brew pubs in Asbury Park for my birthday. The big draw for me was the Reissdorf Kolsch on tap. Other than that, the service sucked, the food was mediocre, and the prices expensive.
Did they ask for feedback? No, and I don't feel obliged to give it, either.
 

VikeMan

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Unfortunately(?), I know most of the local comm'l brewers/owners, and they often ask what I think of their beers. If there are issues, I try to be honest about it, but the fact is that I sugarcoat it a little. I really think that a lot of people tend to do the same thing when face to face with the brewer (comm'l or homebrewer). So much so that I wrote a BYO article about it a couple(?) years ago.
 

Lefou

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How was the Kolsch?
A bit oxidized from age and second of all, it wasn't cold off the tap. If you want a good beer to keep its color and flavor, you store the damned keg COLD. I should've been an a-hole and stolen the mug - love the red Reissdorf logo, BTW, but I already have two nice Paulaner Masskrugs on hand.
Real German places will put the Reissdorf in a special cylindrical serving glass. It's classy, but I won't own them because they would get smashed in no time. Like my tools, I'd have to hide them from abuse ...
 
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day_trippr

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This thread makes me wonder if the randomness of finding good "locally brewed" beer is a USA thing.

I say that out loud because years ago I traveled extensively throughout western Europe on business and frankly do not recall ever having a less than enjoyable beer (leaving out the one horribly warm bottle of Guinness pulled out from under the bar at the Tower Hotel on my first utterly naive trip Across The Pond). Every legit city had at least one local brewery and associated pub, some many, and even the smaller towns often had their own local.

Meanwhile, while there's the outer band of world-class craft breweries around me (none of which are currently open for guest visits beyond drive-by pickups) the lesser lights are so dim as to be forgettable. The Spousal Unit and I have pretty much riffed through the lot and frankly would rather drink at home. That said, occasionally there's a spark out there - my latest sojourn to a nano a few miles from my home led to a couple of four packs that were actually decent-to-good. But, still, not up to what's on tap at home.

It's getting hard to be lazy...

Cheers!
 

Vale71

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This thread makes me wonder if the randomness of finding good "locally brewed" beer is a USA thing.
It definitely isn't. I've had my share of diacetyl-laden craft lager in Germany. Sometimes you can start smelling the diacetyl just as the waiter is approaching and hasn't set the glasses on the table yet.

I never said anything to the brewer because:

1 - He wasn't there at the time
2 - I'm sure he was aware of the issue but didn't care as long as people kept coming back. He was probably just taking shortcuts on fermentation for cost reasons and no amount of complaining would have made him change anything anyway.
 

beernutz

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In my pretty non-beer-geek southern town over the last 2 years we've had 4 microbreweries and a brewpub open where we went from almost no brewery competition to quite a bit of it. The first micro to open started off having their beer contract brewed at a larger established brewery in another state but opened a taproom at the site where they eventually planned to brew their own.

The taproom didn't even survive a year. They only ever had 3 beers on tap and usually at least 2 and sometimes all 3 were IPAs.

To bring this post around to the topic of mediocre or worse beer, that's exactly what they served every time I visited. The last time I visited right before the taproom closed the Kveik IPA I tried was undrinkable. I took it back to the server and said this beer is bad. The young server didn't ask what was wrong or seem particularly concerned about the feedback. She asked if I wanted something else and to emphasize my point I said no, one terrible beer per day is my limit.

They closed the taproom less than a month later. Full disclosure, besides a very limited selection of sometimes mediocre or worse beer, they charged $7-8 a pint, didn't allow tipping, didn't accept cash, and their layout wasn't very logical.

They are finally brewing on site, still without a taproom, and I will be surprised if they survive another year.
 
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FleEsq

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I don"t think most commercial brewers want the criticism from home brewers. Because some of us are a little full of ourselves. We think we produce some of the best beer in town, (in my case I don't think, I know :)). But all kidding aside, I went to one of my favorite local brew pubs and asked a question about a beer just hoping to get a little educated. He sat down at our table telling me how great he was, my wife then stated to him that I brewed beer; then he said "oh your the dreaded homebrewer" and walked away.

I'm sure he didn't want to know that his pale ale had some serious off flavors.

so now neither my wife or I tell anyone in a brew pub that I'm a homebrewer and I will not criticize even if I'm asked.
 

bkboiler

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The founder of stone once said, "any beer is a good beer if you can taste the Brewer's intent".
This doesn't just mean that the brewer should have had a plan with what flavors he/she was trying to achieve and then refining the recipe until he/she is satisfied. It means at least two more things:
1. Getting feedback and making sure other people are getting those flavors
2. Checking if the beer is being mishandled on the way to the glass to see if that's the reason the intended flavors didn't get to that person's mouth.
It sounds like a case of #2, but there's all sorts of chances of cold side aeration prior to keg so maybe it was his fault.
Either way, good for him for asking your opinion, bad for him for not knowing better when a beer is oxidized...
 
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