Quantity vs quality

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kaisetti

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I am left wondering...does it even matter that the beer is any good???]

Yes and no. I think it often comes down to the experience the brewery offers to the customer. You're in the PNW so I'm sure you've been to a McMennamins. Mediocre beer (and food) but the experience at many of their locations (with the exception of the strip mall locations) is unique. Beer is a social beverage, so time and place and company matters in brewery experiences. If a brewery produces average beer but appeals to the social aspects, I believe it will succeed. You might not seek its beer out in the grocery store, but you might meet up with friends for a pint at the brewery because of the experience you will have. Maybe I'm waaaay off on this one. I know my wife and I select breweries to visit based on the social aspects more than if the beer is exceptional or not; I can find those exceptional beers at the store.
 

MaxStout

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I am left wondering...does it even matter that the beer is any good???]

Yes and no. I think it often comes down to the experience the brewery offers to the customer. You're in the PNW so I'm sure you've been to a McMennamins. Mediocre beer (and food) but the experience at many of their locations (with the exception of the strip mall locations) is unique. Beer is a social beverage, so time and place and company matters in brewery experiences. If a brewery produces average beer but appeals to the social aspects, I believe it will succeed. You might not seek its beer out in the grocery store, but you might meet up with friends for a pint at the brewery because of the experience you will have. Maybe I'm waaaay off on this one. I know my wife and I select breweries to visit based on the social aspects more than if the beer is exceptional or not; I can find those exceptional beers at the store.
That depends on what kind of establishment it is. If it is a brewpub, with food, entertainment, etc., your argument has merit. Then it is about the entire experience and it's more than just beer.

But the majority of the breweries around here, particularly the newer ones, do not have food service--maybe the occasional food truck. They serve pints and fill growlers. Few package their beer (yet), so it cannot be found in the stores. And there really isn't any other entertainment, just the person at the taps, filling glasses. Their raison d'etre is the beer, and if the beer is excellent, I'm perfectly fine with that. Anything less, and it's just another bar.
 

kaisetti

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That depends on what kind of establishment it is. If it is a brewpub, with food, entertainment, etc., your argument has merit. Then it is about the entire experience and it's more than just beer.

But the majority of the breweries around here, particularly the newer ones, do not have food service--maybe the occasional food truck. They serve pints and fill growlers. Few package their beer (yet), so it cannot be found in the stores. And there really isn't any other entertainment, just the person at the taps, filling glasses. Their raison d'etre is the beer, and if the beer is excellent, I'm perfectly fine with that. Anything less, and it's just another bar.
I see your points. I don't necessarily see it as an"entertainment" factor but more as "experience." The nearest brewery to my house is about a mile away. The beers are decent - no one is standing in line on a Saturday morning at 5AM for a rare, limited release, and up until recently, they contracted with the nextdoor pizza parlor to deliver pizzas since they didn't have their own kitchen. However, it has always been a great place to meet up with friends after work for a pint or two. They have board games, a couple of TVs, and decent beer. Even though their beers don't blow me away and I don't seek them out anywhere other than the brewery, I still go because of the experience I can have there. There are better breweries making amazing beers within 10 miles of my house, but sometimes making the long 10 mile trek :))) for great beer won't dissuade me from visiting the nearest brewery for the experience of pints with friends.

I guess my point in a round-about, non-sequitur kind of way is that my tastes and preferences for what is "good" beer are engineered by great moments with beer and not obsessing over what is "great" beer.

:mug:
 

MaxStout

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I see your points. I don't necessarily see it as an"entertainment" factor but more as "experience." The nearest brewery to my house is about a mile away. The beers are decent - no one is standing in line on a Saturday morning at 5AM for a rare, limited release, and up until recently, they contracted with the nextdoor pizza parlor to deliver pizzas since they didn't have their own kitchen. However, it has always been a great place to meet up with friends after work for a pint or two. They have board games, a couple of TVs, and decent beer. Even though their beers don't blow me away and I don't seek them out anywhere other than the brewery, I still go because of the experience I can have there. There are better breweries making amazing beers within 10 miles of my house, but sometimes making the long 10 mile trek :))) for great beer won't dissuade me from visiting the nearest brewery for the experience of pints with friends.

I guess my point in a round-about, non-sequitur kind of way is that my tastes and preferences for what is "good" beer are engineered by great moments with beer and not obsessing over what is "great" beer.

:mug:
Yeah, I see what you mean. Sometimes it's just good to hoist a few with friends. One of our favorite spots has really terrific beer, and decent pub grub as well. Very friendly atmosphere, no hipster snobbishness. We often meet friends there on a Saturday afternoon. I do wish more breweries had that "added value," but I realize many of them are trying to develop a following for their beer.
 

madscientist451

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I agree with greenacarina here and disagree with you, madscientist.

There's a difference between "beer I don't like" and "beer that has objective flaws." Sounds like greenacarina is describing beer that has objective flaws.

I don't prefer Bud Light. I consider it to be a mediocre flavor profile (what little flavor exists, anyway). But I know that Budweiser is a world-class brewing operation and there is nothing that I would call a "flaw" in the way Bud Light is brewed. It is an objectively well-brewed beer.
From my reading, the OP's description of all the beer at the pub being "sour" (the objective flaw) was hyperbole inserted to make a point.
The staff at the brewery and no other drinkers there can detect it?
Sorry, but I'm somewhat skeptical. But maybe the beer did suck and he's right, I'll never know, but MY point was that the whole comment seemed somewhat snobby, even if the OP didn't mean it that way.
My apologies are offered to all that are offended.
And I never wrote that Bud was flawed so I don't know where that comment is coming from.
 

myndflyte

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I see what you're saying. I like to try and find breweries that stand out for a reason. For example, in Cincinnati there is a brewery called Urban Artifact where all they have on tap is sour and wild yeast fermented beers. I'm sure they are taking a risk with that sort of lineup but they are specializing in those kinds of beers and they are amazing.

And that's what I like about them. Instead of trying to brew every style under the sun, they just focus on a subset and make great beer.
 

eric19312

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already too many posts to read whole thread but I'd say I see the microbrew world big enough for different kinds of breweries.

You have your destination breweries. I'll drive an hour to taste their beer and further than that for a special release. I don't go back often because driving and hour+ and drinking beer are not really compatible in my book. Tasting beer yes but I'm gonna spend half a day and only get to taste? I travel for work a bit and do look for destination breweries when I visit new cities and will seek them out. Hopefully they have packaged beer or a growler I can take home to enjoy later and share my experience with friends here. These destination breweries rely on sites like beeradvocate, untaped, instagram to attract the beer cognoscenti, get them to post to social media and keep coming back. This is a fickle crowd and they are always looking for that next whale. Something at least a few of the other bearded ironic trucker hatted hipster beer cognoscenti haven't had a chance to try yet. Especially when it involves standing in line overnight to get a chance to buy it.

Then there are local taprooms. We have a decent one in my town. Beer is generally good. Never selling anything infected or other obvious flaws. But not breaking new ground either. Beers are decent fits to style and they have usually 11 on tap of which about 7 are standards. They are always busy and seem to have a decent business. Just celebrated 6th anniversary and every years seems to be stronger than year before. I go to this brewery at least once a week and know most of the regulars, taproom staff and brewers at least by sight. Dog friendly so often it's a stop on my dog walks. I like the experience even if I'm not interested in posting pics of my pints on social media or texting homebrew friends about this awesome new beer they have to try.

Both of these models are good but I cringe when I read a post like the OPs and wonder if it might be my local that he felt was offering mediocre beer. I doubt it because of the mention of obvious flaws but hard to tell what was meant. If 20 people showed up, had a good time, thought the beer was tasty, and left with smiles on their faces I suspect the beer was perhaps middle of the road craft quality and OP wears a beard and an ironic trucker hat...
 

tomakana

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Since I've gotten into homebrewing, I've been noticing more and more the number of small breweries around (SE Pennsylvania), and when I travel, I've started looking more and more for the local (not necessarily craft) breweries, primarily so I can experience as many different types and levels of quality as I can. I agree with the general feeling that the proliferation doesn't necessarily lend itself to higher average quality, but I think that's also a temporary thing...as the market in various areas takes over, the quality will rise to the top.

The biggest change I've started to notice is that even craft breweries are starting to experiment and market more styles. A couple years ago, it felt like anything that wasn't a macro beer was an IPA - which was great if you liked IPAs (which I didn't at the time). Now, all the craft breweries or tap houses I go to have a pretty wide variety of styles available, including some I have to look up to figure out what they are. Now, I generally have no idea whether they "meet the style" but I know whether I like them or not, and that leads me to try others that may be like them at other places, and to look into how to brew them someday.

The upside is that I've come across some styles and specific beers that I otherwise may have never encountered, and I've had some shockingly good brews in the process. I've almost never encountered something that I genuinely couldn't drink. The only downside I've found is that a lot of the breweries are rotating things through quickly enough, that I often can't come back to something that I loved...that just means I try something else.
 

betarhoalphadelta

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Excuse me? This is supposed to be a kind of fancy eatery! Sure they can bring people in with the food, but everyone I know orders craft beer from other places when they eat there. To serve SOUR, infected beer is beyond lazy, it's terrible business! They started getting bad reviews about it. If they don't change something, pretty soon they will have a bad reputation and lose more customers.
This reminds me of a place near me. For years I basically didn't even go there because their beer was terrible. They had a great location (in a strip mall next to a big movie theater), decent food, but the beer sucked. They would market macro beer specials for happy hour instead of their own stuff, and their menu would highlight the wine pairings for their entrees.

Luckily, as craft beer really "hit" and as the market became more discerning, they saw the light. I don't know if they changed brewers, but their house beer improved, their guest tap list improved from macro to a really good craft list, and now it's a place I'll frequent. Sometimes competition spurs improvement.

Perhaps you should talk to the managers at this brewpub. Tell them your concerns. Ask them to look at the sales figures of the other craft taps versus their own. Ask them to calculate what the improvement would be to their bottom line if more of those pints were their own stuff, as in-house beer makes MUCH better margins than craft that they're buying and merely marking up. I'm sure they'd see the light.

I agree with you bwarbiany. Those style guideline things are forced limitations that do not make sense, therefore competitions also do not make real sense to me. It is like cooking. Telling me that I can only use this and that ingredient in my apple pie? Or my steak can only be seasoned with this and that and not pan fried but only grilled.... that wouldn't make sense at all, same for trying to force guidelines on beers.
I don't know who you're agreeing with, but you've stepped so far beyond what I said in my previous post that it sure ain't me.

Nobody is telling you what to put in your pie. But if you go to a pie competition and one person brings apple pie, another brings chocolate cream pie, another brings rhubarb, the fourth brings chicken pot pie, and the fifth brings shepherd's pie, how are you going to meaningfully make a comparison between them?

The Kansas City Barbecue Society has guidelines for barbecue competitions. Those guidelines are actually quite different from what you'd probably make at home or eat at a restaurant. That doesn't mean the barbecue you make at home has to be to "KCBS" expectations.

Competitions serve a purpose. I often don't enter because I haven't brewed "to style". But when I brew something that fits a style, it's good to get the judges' feedback. The most recent competition I entered, I found myself reading the feedback and most of it was things I felt were accurate, and thus it helped to validate my own taste. There were a few score sheets that I thought were perhaps off, but I'm going to take those sheets and reflect on them while tasting the beer to see if maybe there's something accurate in there that I missed.

I see your points. I don't necessarily see it as an"entertainment" factor but more as "experience." The nearest brewery to my house is about a mile away. The beers are decent - no one is standing in line on a Saturday morning at 5AM for a rare, limited release, and up until recently, they contracted with the nextdoor pizza parlor to deliver pizzas since they didn't have their own kitchen. However, it has always been a great place to meet up with friends after work for a pint or two. They have board games, a couple of TVs, and decent beer. Even though their beers don't blow me away and I don't seek them out anywhere other than the brewery, I still go because of the experience I can have there. There are better breweries making amazing beers within 10 miles of my house, but sometimes making the long 10 mile trek :))) for great beer won't dissuade me from visiting the nearest brewery for the experience of pints with friends.
Then there are local taprooms. We have a decent one in my town. Beer is generally good. Never selling anything infected or other obvious flaws. But not breaking new ground either. Beers are decent fits to style and they have usually 11 on tap of which about 7 are standards. They are always busy and seem to have a decent business. Just celebrated 6th anniversary and every years seems to be stronger than year before. I go to this brewery at least once a week and know most of the regulars, taproom staff and brewers at least by sight. Dog friendly so often it's a stop on my dog walks. I like the experience even if I'm not interested in posting pics of my pints on social media or texting homebrew friends about this awesome new beer they have to try.
This is a good point. What I think it really underscores is that we're not always looking for world-class beer that blows me away. There is a certain level beyond which beer is "good enough" to warrant going back to a brewery.

The same is true of restaurants. I don't eat at fancy restaurants all the time. In fact, I don't eat at "amazing" restaurants all the time. I do have a minimum floor of taste/quality, however, that will keep me going back to a restaurant.

Near me is Laguna Beach Beer Company (which non-intuitively is 15 miles from Laguna Beach). The beer is decent. It's not stellar. There are a few recipes that I think are subjectively not so great, but the beer doesn't have any outright flaws or off flavors. It's easily a good enough joint that if I want to go grab a few pints, I'll happily go there.

My take is that the brewery OP is describing does NOT meet this level of minimum quality. I was just at another brewery here in OC a few weeks ago that after a single pint, my girlfriend and I walked out and went to another brewery nearby because the beer was simply not good. It wasn't a subjective assessment. The beer just wasn't good. Yet there were plenty of people in the joint.

From my reading, the OP's description of all the beer at the pub being "sour" (the objective flaw) was hyperbole inserted to make a point.
The staff at the brewery and no other drinkers there can detect it?
Sorry, but I'm somewhat skeptical. But maybe the beer did suck and he's right, I'll never know, but MY point was that the whole comment seemed somewhat snobby, even if the OP didn't mean it that way.
My apologies are offered to all that are offended.
And I never wrote that Bud was flawed so I don't know where that comment is coming from.
My impression of the OP was that he was talking about objectively flawed beer. And I will tell you that I've been at MANY breweries over the years that have objectively flawed beer, and remained in business. Perhaps some are like Homercidal's example [that I echoed with a brewpub example I used] above where the brewer and the servers know it's bad beer but they're making enough money not to fix it. Perhaps they just don't realize that it's bad, and it's a market where the consumer doesn't realize it, and they're surviving. But it seemed like he was discussing objective rather than subjective flaws.

FYI I wasn't insinuating that you said Bud was flawed. My take was that you were calling them out as a beer that was subjectively bad--to the palate of a typical craft beer drinker--and suggesting that perhaps OP was substituting his own preferences for those of other drinkers in regards to a beer that you're skeptical that it's objectively bad.

My point is that there are breweries that survive for years with objectively flawed beer, so it's not necessarily correct to assume that what he's tasting isn't real. I've tasted objectively bad beer at many breweries.

And don't worry, I wasn't offended. You'll have to try FAR harder if you want to offend me! :mug: :mug:
 

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I think the comparison with pies does not match. We are talking about beer, where the main ingredients are almost everytime the samein each style. This does not apply to all those pies you have listed.

I get what you personally get out of those competitions, feedback. But you could surely get the same feedback from somewhere else without being limited in what to brew. and to quote myself regarding the guidelines of those competitions (I am a lazy bastard, I know):

"Which lines do you mean? The ones when a "style" originated? For example an english ale? Then it would mean a non hopped, potentially soured, fermented barley drink.

Or do you mean the lines that somebody decided to exist, like the guidelines we have for competitions? But who gave the creator of those competition guidelines the power to say that a constantly evolving beer style is now fixed, not changeable and has to be within his own idea of this type of beer? Is he right? Is he wrong?

What kind of information should he take as a base to set up those rules? The time of origination (see above)? The last one hudnred years? The average of what the ten most "sophisticated beer nerds" think they know about a style which roots are ten times older than they themself?

So, which lines again?"
 

Morrey

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To serve SOUR, infected beer is beyond lazy, it's terrible business!

I've always noticed a certain phenolic flavor to their hosue beers before, and then serving that infected beer, is insane!

I'd love for the local places to make excellent beer, but I'm afraid I'm wasting my time if the managers aren't ready to accept that there is a problem to start with.
I cant agree more, Homercidal. There are 3 local small scale breweries that my wife and I visit. Two of them are owned and operated by successful professionals who started as home brewers, and these two breweries clearly have a passion for brewing and a passion for product quality. Either one would dump a 10Bbl fermenter of beer if it was remotely suspect.

The third brewery was actually the first to open and has been around 5 years. The owner has no passion for his product and it clearly shows that he'd rather be doing something else besides brewing. One of his employees told me he didn't give a hoot about the business as he was simply looking for a niche market to get into first. If he had done it well, he would be the leader of the pack, but as it stands, I expect a For Sale sign to appear any day now.

Passion shows in all aspects of a brewery, and in your example, passion seems to be missing.
 
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betarhoalphadelta

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Or do you mean the lines that somebody decided to exist, like the guidelines we have for competitions? But who gave the creator of those competition guidelines the power to say that a constantly evolving beer style is now fixed, not changeable and has to be within his own idea of this type of beer? Is he right? Is he wrong?

What kind of information should he take as a base to set up those rules? The time of origination (see above)? The last one hudnred years? The average of what the ten most "sophisticated beer nerds" think they know about a style which roots are ten times older than they themself?
Are you familiar with how the BJCP style guidelines are created, modified over time, and what their purpose is? I'd suggest you read pages v-vi of that document.

The purpose is to help facilitate competitions. That's why the BJCP exists. That's why they create style guidelines. They're not trying to categorize all beers for all purposes. They're not trying to say that they are the end-all be-all defining what beer is. They simply are trying to make categories and styles that help homebrew competitions evaluate beer across uniform styles.

They are a reactive, not necessarily proactive, group. They try to write their guidelines to recognize what homebrewers are doing, including how styles evolve over time. They respond to popular changes within what homebrewers are doing by adding styles. And as styles change over time, they modify the guidelines to reflect differences. Look at the differences between the 1997 guidelines and the 2015 guidelines, and you'll see what I mean.

The recognize that their styles are limited. As such, they've expanded beyond something as simple as an "IPA" category to allow for various specialty IPA designations. They've created categories for historical beers as these have become popular, and typically these categories are pretty open to interpretation. And they of course have the catch-all specialty beer categories for beers that don't fall into the existing categories.

So nobody is creating lines saying that these are the rules forever. Even for the BJCP, beer styles are not fixed nor set in stone. These styles are meant to be descriptive [how the style is brewed *today*], not proscriptive [how the style must be brewed for all time]. They react to what homebrewers are doing rather than telling homebrewers what to do.

There are people who take these styles *way* too seriously. There are people who can't seem to get their minds around how to deal with beers that don't fit within these arbitrary styles. But the limitations of those peoples' mental flexibility is not the BJCP's fault for writing style guidelines in the first place.

Don't try to make the guidelines into something they're not.
 
OP
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greenacarina

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Hey everyone. Tons of great insight in this conversation!!
Just wanted to toss in a few clarifying points in regard to my original post.
I am pretty easy going in regard to beers. I don't expect a beer to be the "best ever" each and every time. I will drink darn near anything if it's halfway decent (currently have cans of Rainier and Modelo Especial in the fridge).
The place i was referencing is in a very touristy town in my state. There was a Groupon...and i love a "bargain". They had 8 beers on tap (the usual suspects...nothing too adventurous)
Every one was distinctly sour. Don't know why...didn't want to ask.
And a word on the BJCP. I am of the mind that good beer is good beer...period.
I think style guidelines are a good thing and can be very helpful in understanding the finer aspects of beer. My brew club turned me on to the BJCP guide and the whole notion of beer judging. I don't really subscribe to the notion that beer must adhere to a strict standard, but reading and trying to understand these guidelines has taught me a lot!
I think brewing is art as well as science and art is about creativity and self expression.
The other aspect of style guidelines is this...
In the same town I visiited where the brewery with the sour beers was located...there is another brewery. Selection of about 8 or 10. I order a flight, selecting styles I usually drink and enjoy (pale, marzen, brown, pils, etc).
None of the beers were halfway close to the style they were advertised to be. None of them tickled my fancy enough to order a pint. Beer styles don't have to be set in stone, but if I order a Pils and end up with something closer to IPA...that isn't good.
Also I am a big believer in atmosphere. I have spent a lot of time dreaming about what I want my place to be like...going to a lot of other places and making note of what i like and what i don't.
My favorite bars are, above all else, the places I feel comfortable in.

Chris
 

Miraculix

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Are you familiar with how the BJCP style guidelines are created, modified over time, and what their purpose is? I'd suggest you read pages v-vi of that document.

The purpose is to help facilitate competitions. That's why the BJCP exists. That's why they create style guidelines. They're not trying to categorize all beers for all purposes. They're not trying to say that they are the end-all be-all defining what beer is. They simply are trying to make categories and styles that help homebrew competitions evaluate beer across uniform styles.

They are a reactive, not necessarily proactive, group. They try to write their guidelines to recognize what homebrewers are doing, including how styles evolve over time. They respond to popular changes within what homebrewers are doing by adding styles. And as styles change over time, they modify the guidelines to reflect differences. Look at the differences between the 1997 guidelines and the 2015 guidelines, and you'll see what I mean.

The recognize that their styles are limited. As such, they've expanded beyond something as simple as an "IPA" category to allow for various specialty IPA designations. They've created categories for historical beers as these have become popular, and typically these categories are pretty open to interpretation. And they of course have the catch-all specialty beer categories for beers that don't fall into the existing categories.

So nobody is creating lines saying that these are the rules forever. Even for the BJCP, beer styles are not fixed nor set in stone. These styles are meant to be descriptive [how the style is brewed *today*], not proscriptive [how the style must be brewed for all time]. They react to what homebrewers are doing rather than telling homebrewers what to do.

There are people who take these styles *way* too seriously. There are people who can't seem to get their minds around how to deal with beers that don't fit within these arbitrary styles. But the limitations of those peoples' mental flexibility is not the BJCP's fault for writing style guidelines in the first place.

Don't try to make the guidelines into something they're not.
Thanks for clarifying, great read. I guess I have been under the influence of too many of the type of persons who you are describing in your last paragraph. The dogmatic type, and as you can see, I am not such a big fan of this type of world view :D

As you described the whole system, it looks way more inviting to me than the version I was too often confronted with when hearing / reading "not good because not according to style" and I was thinking "Ok... But isn't it more interesting if it is a great brew or not!?".

Glad to hear that this is not how it was supposed to be meant.

Thanks!
 

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I do a lot of smoking and I do not care how good your venting is, you have smoke particles going up in the air that are sticky, and likely grabbing a mold or bacteria and bring it into the brewing operation. I bet if he brewed when the smoker wasn't in use he would have better results. Add in the ventilation required is going to constantly be stirring up dust...

So get this; I am talking with a brewer at a nearby brewery who just happened to be a short-term member of our brewclub (He had to leave the club for official purposes by accepting the brewer position). We were talking about the quality of the beer there and I mentioned how I tasted more than 1 SOUR beer one day that was not supposed to be sour. I assumed they got some kegs mixed up, but he informs me that no, they were infected. There's been a problem lately and it seems to have started about the time they moved the brewery operations from the kitchen to a separate room. This should have been a more ideal location, and they got a biggish homebrew system to replace the smaller system they had.

Apparently this move into the new space makes it ideal for certain microbes to flourish. It's the only thing I can think of. He shares his brewroom with a good-sized smoker and whatnot. He's tried working with the management to find a solution for his fermentor temperature, and that is better, but they are still getting sour infections. He's gone over the system as much as he knows how, but when asking the management to help find a solution, he was told, "It is what it is."

Excuse me? This is supposed to be a kind of fancy eatery! Sure they can bring people in with the food, but everyone I know orders craft beer from other places when they eat there. To serve SOUR, infected beer is beyond lazy, it's terrible business! They started getting bad reviews about it. If they don't change something, pretty soon they will have a bad reputation and lose more customers.

I've always noticed a certain phenolic flavor to their hosue beers before, and that seems to have gone away after changing brewers, but not dealing with an infection issue, and then serving that infected beer, is insane! The servers claim they don't like beer and can't tell the difference. I advised he make a device to sample from the kegs prior to making them available for tapping at the bar. This would be the very minimal QC!

I didn't have a chance to talk at length about it as the brewday was finishing up, but I wonder if I should ask him if he needs some help pinpointing the problem. I'd love for the local places to make excellent beer, but I'm afraid I'm wasting my time if the managers aren't ready to accept that there is a problem to start with, and that there is likely a simple solution to fixing it. This place plans to open a second location about a 1/2 hour away, and I don't know what the plans are for brewing for both places, but maybe the solution is moving the brewery to a dedicated room in the new location?

I believe they mill grain in the brewing area now. They smoker is there, and it's readily accessible from the kitchen area. There is plenty of airflow due to the venting required for the smoker.

I feel like it should be possible to narrow this down to one or two potential causes, but I'm hesitant to go to the manager and suggest they make changes. After all, I'm just a homebrewer. (But then that's who they hired to brew for them a few months ago. Maybe them hearing it from another source would help?) It's frustrating because brewing is really pretty easy. Brewing really good beer might be a small challenge, but making decent beer, especially using the same system over and over, should be pretty easy.
 

seatazzz

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I've seen a few of these here in the south end of Washington as well greencarina. Two local places come to mind (won't name them here because....well because). One brews "okay" beer. Had a flight there that basically was the rainbow, blonde, IPA, red, Amber, porter, and stout. EVERY ONE OF THEM tasted the same, with the exception of the stout that had a tiny bit of coffee flavor. Not "bad" beer, but nothing exceptional. The place is beautiful, large, very well appointed, but their beer is meh. I'm acquainted with someone who knows the head brewer there, and he says it's a matter of him not knowing how to scale up his old 5 gallon homebrew recipes to 4bbl batches. When we were there the place was full of young, hip, urbanites who raved about the beers. I wanted to smack them right in their unfeeling palates.

Another place I really shouldn't mention, because I've only had one of their beers (IPA) and it turned me off trying any others. The first sniff about made my stomach turn. Awful bandaid aroma, and the taste was old hops wrapped in bandaids. I politely finished the glass (without breathing through my nose), thanked them, and left. A sign on their wall stated their stout had won some award, but I was afraid to try it. These guys are brewing on their home property, have huge kettles and look to have spent big bucks on marketing and ambience. I've heard from others around here that their other beers are just as bad, but nobody will either tell the guy, or he doesn't listen.

One of the best things I've learned as a homebrewer is to LISTEN TO WISER, MORE EXPERIENCED, BREWERS THAN MYSELF. Once you get to a point where you think your poop don't stink you might as well snap your mash paddle across your knee.

About 6 months ago the husband and I were in another taproom (can't remember where or which one) and got a flight. All but one of the beers were very well done, enjoyed them. The amber however, was horrible. Just for the heck of it I asked the bartender about it...he admitted they had a bad batch of yeast and were just trying to get rid of it (at that point had 15 1/6th barrels left of it). Not the best out, but you gotta do what you gotta do to make the bottom line. We started a conversation with a couple sitting near us, he was drinking the very same amber and raved about it.

TL;DR. My main point is, craft beer is a fad (for some, like the young hip urbanites) and the die hard, in it for life, careful craft brewers will keep on doing what they do best. And they will prevail, in the end. End of rant.
 

MaryB

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Local brewery makes a Red Velvet Chocolate oatmeal stout I absolutely LOVE. Seasonal beer for them but extremely popular. But they refuse to offer it in a stand alone 6 pack. I have to buy a 12 pack of beer to get 3 of them then 9other medicore meh beers I would not go out of my way to even sample... emailed them, nope we do not plan to offer it on its own... everyone I know loves the stuff(and I am working on cloning it) which is piss poor marketing on their part!
 

ESBrewer

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This is a world wide trend as we know. Same thing here in Finland. We have lots of tiny, new breweries that seem to make a huge range of different beers. Unfortunately, most of them are of mediocre quality. I don't think all these are going to survive unless they focus on some key products and refine the quality of the product instead of rushing out with so many styles. For sure people get interested in these products because traditionally, the beer culture here has focused on pale and watery lagers from a couple of big companies. But later when these people have tried all these new things and perhaps some classic beers from abroad, they are not going to be that excited anymore. Then the competitition will bring down many small breweries unless they focus on the quality instead of quantity. Another problem is the consistency. I have noticed that quality of the beer varies a lot between batches and sometimes these breweries are unable to produce the exactly same beer twice, either because the ingredients will change or because of inconsistent brewing conditions.
 

Brewpastor

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Why do you make your own in this world of breweries?

I am a snob and I know it. I also can brew better than most folks around me. I love a pint out. But I hate wasting money on swill.

I'm a National Judge. I believe I can taste. So quality wins. Id love quantities. But not if it sucks.

So I brew my own mostly. If it sucks its my fault.
 

SoCal-Doug

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I'm going to partially take back what I said in earlier posts. I actually found a brewery that had more than one non-IPA

We stopped at ballast point in sandy eggo a few days ago on the way to sea world. Walked up to the counter thinking about a flight. Bar dude says "what would you like today, sir". [dammit, that "sir" stuff. i cant be that old yet] I said "how about the four-flight of anything that's NOT overhopped or has IPA in its name". He says "oh, you like real beers, lets see if we can find four. This might be kinda tough" (I cant stop laughing at his "real beer" statement). Together we were able to pick out three from the list. The fourth was a crapshoot, so I randomly said "make it the red velvet oatmeal stout". He said I should really try the juicy-somethingeranother, but listed at 110 IBU I knew I would puke on his nice clean countertop and I may require fiber and exlax to get my intestines working again, after something that hardcore.

Sorry, I don't remember the fishy names (they name their brews after fish) but here were the results...

Pilsner: Refreshing and nice. Still a bit overhopped with something dank and rank
Kolsch: Very nice!
Wit: Definite Yummy!
Red Velvet oatmeal stout: Not a stout whatsoever. The tap list display was wrong. It was a very light and clear ale with purple-pink food coloring that smelled and tasted exactly like red velvet cake! I found it disgusting, but I would give it an A+++ for the originality and adding cake mix to beer. My 21 year old loved it.
 

Gameface

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I agree with you bwarbiany. Those style guideline things are forced limitations that do not make sense, therefore competitions also do not make real sense to me. It is like cooking. Telling me that I can only use this and that ingredient in my apple pie? Or my steak can only be seasoned with this and that and not pan fried but only grilled.... that wouldn't make sense at all, same for trying to force guidelines on beers.

Come on, all those styles developed over time due to either circumstances (taxes, hard water, shortage of specific grains/malts etc.) or due to taste of the people, or both combined. Meaning, there was no regulatory body telling them what to do. And they keep on developing till today. I'll bet the first IPAS tasted very much different then the ones today. So why trying to make it fix in an artificial way? Is it about making great beer or about sniffing ones own farts while looking very serious when "judging" a beer according to "guidelines" and being so so so sofisticated?

Naa, that is rubbish.
As far as using style guidelines to limit the boundaries of beer, for beer you just want to drink and enjoy, yeah, that doesn't make sense.

But the guidelines and competitions are very valuable in their own way. For one, it allows you to calibrate your taste buds. This beer tastes like "this." So when you're tasting "that" you know what it is.

But for a brewer, it sets the parameters for what flavors we need to achieve and then we challenge ourselves to deliver those flavors, that balance, the overall experience of that type of beer. It shows that you know how to control the way your beer tastes, it's not just some happy accident. You understand the ingredients, you understand the process and you can execute a beer with a level of competence, quality and consistency that wins awards... because you were able to draw inside the lines. Then you take those skills and make whatever beer you want without regard for style guidelines and you're brewing is all the better for it.
 

Gytaryst

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Why are so many people jumping into the brewing business in record numbers? Is it because there are sooooo many people out there who truly and whole heartedly believe that it's all about the beer . . . NOT the money?

I doubt it. The criticism leveled at the big corporate macrobrewewies is that they only care about the money - they don't care about the quality. Pump out as much swill as they can, as cheaply as they can, to make as much money as they can. That's why EVERYONE in the craft beer community loves to hate those greedy bastards. They don't care about anything but the money.

So why are soooo many people jumping into the brewery business these days???
 

Hwk-I-St8

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I've run into the same thing as the OP. I can see brewing an assortment of styles to appeal to as many people as possible. I can see maybe putting less emphasis on the beer if you're main product is food and the brewery aspect is just to get people in the door.

That being said, the Mrs and I like to stop off at breweries when we're travelling. Many are only nano's with no food. In that market, I'd expect two things: Enough variety to appeal to just about anyone who comes in (IPA, Moderate PA, Wheat, Lager, Stout and a berliner wiess as an example) and each should be a really good example of the style (not saying the "official style" just something really tasty and well done for that type of beer).

I'm amazed at the variation. In Iowa you can go to Toppling Goliath or Pulpit Rock and get world class beers, but at most of the places I go, it's like the OP...sample and can't find anything worthy of a full glass. Watery wimpy stouts, IPAs with with off flavors or just an IBU bomb, Porters that taste like an ash tray, lagers with enough diacytel to butter some toast, etc.

My friends and family are serious beer people. Like beer-cation travelers who fly across the country just to hit breweries and festivals beer people. They all say I'm brewing beer better than 90% of the nano's and nearly on par with TG and PR. I've been brewing for 9 months using a cooler and a turkey frier. The point isn't to toot my own horn, it's that brewing really isn't that hard if you take the time to learn what affects the flavors and how to avoid the pitfalls. I think many of these nano's are either cutting corners on ingredients or process to keep costs down or they're just not taking it seriously.

I'm betting a huge percentage of the people here are brewing better beer than most nano's simply because they spend time here learning and improving their craft. They literally put the "craft" in "craft beer". If you want to be in the craft beer business, you have to put the beer ahead of the business. If you do, history shows people will come. Look at More Brewing in Chicago. Started by a brewer who was brewing destination beers at a chain brewpub!

I think the week one's will drop off (I've seen two area nano's go by the wayside in the last 12 months), but the real crash is looming. When I look at how many beers are in the store, most of which I've had and think are marginal, many of which are aging on the shelves, and it's clear the boom can't be supported.
 

Gytaryst

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For all the breweries and/or brew pubs I've ever visited I can probably think of 2 or 3 that actually stick out as making an above average impression on me, (for whatever reason). Of the hundreds and hundreds of beers I've tasted in all those breweries over the years, I quite honestly can't think of one beer that I ever thought stood out significantly from the pack. Some were better than others, (obviously). Some came with a lot of hype behind them. Some were popular and had high ratings on beer rating websites - the vast majority were just average unknown same ole same ole. There are quite a few breweries where I wasn't impressed with any of the beers, and some of those are popular breweries.

So who knows.
 

chris000

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Doing smart business will keep one in business; and if history told us something than that truly exceptional products were always financial disasters. Being the first in the market most often pays, being the best doesn't.
Now add to that, that there is quite an upper limit of how much one can ask for a pint leaving not much of a margin if you go all out on quality (ingredients, process and short shelf life, etc).
On the other hand, most people cannot taste much at all - those who always talk about how great some food/beverage are here and there is often base it on other factors than actual flavour/aroma. Actually, I don't care how great a beer looks in the glass or some food is put on the plate; my sentiments about some (i.e. many) reviewers are accordingly.
Logically, investing in location, interior, events, good looking waitress, selection will give any dummy a better return on their investment than the most skilled craftsman (investing 100% into their product) could dream of.
I stopped ordering the rare beers on tap, I now order whatever everyone else drinks (aka cheap p**s), since it is at least fresh. If a place has more than five beers on tap, it's not about the beer, but about the "experience" for the hipster or the family restaurant patron alike.
the hipster brew pubs are just about reason enough to brew myself as are the global mega breweries.
 

SoCal-Doug

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There I was today at a brewery in Anaheim commiefornia. Fantastic root beer! Couple good lagers (one was dry-beaned with coffee). Very nice stout too. Wifey loved the apple/pineapple cider.

I look up and see on the tap list "TIPA 120 IBU 13% ABV". Sorry kids, that's not beer or quality anything. I'm sure the turpentine sells and probably pays the bills, but the only thing I would do with that would be play a joke on a friend or light a BBQ. A few minutes later my wife asked "what's an IPL?". I said "an over hopped bitter as hell lager". The guy behind the counter said "that about sums it up!".
 

Gytaryst

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... I look up and see on the tap list "TIPA 120 IBU 13% ABV". Sorry kids, that's not beer or quality anything. I'm sure the turpentine sells and probably pays the bills, but the only thing I would do with that would be play a joke on a friend or light a BBQ. A few minutes later my wife asked "what's an IPL?". I said "an over hopped bitter as hell lager"...
The higher the abv and IBU's, the higher the rating on beer rating sights. To misquote Ray Daniels, "The craft beer community simply traded the tyranny of the American Adjunct Lager for the tyranny of IPA's."
I joined the craft beer revolution late - I missed the boom. When I got interested in it I started scouring the dubya dubya dubya to find whatever I could to educate myself. I began to notice that about 95% of everything I pulled up was posted 5 to 10 years ago. I found a list of about 10 or 15 home brew clubs around the Phoenix area. When I dug deeper I found most of them went belly up years ago. There was like 2 or 3 hanging on by a thread (at that time), and today I think there's pretty much just one big club here that costs too much to join.
I still get a kick out of all the black IPA's out there. The blacker [pale] they can get the better I say.
 

chris000

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I guess my experiences with "brew pubs" predates the craft beer hype - all the way back to the days when I was a child.
I remember going to a certain brew pub with my parents more or less on an annual basis for quite some time.
At the beginning, the place was limited brewery employees only (mid size regional brewery), then some of the locals, and it spread from there (that was about when started to go there). They had one beer and one sprite-like soda on tap. There was one (not overly friendly) guy behind the tap, not even a single waiter. They did not serve ANY food. Services provided were limited to a washrooms (trough style), ubiquitous cigarette vending machines in the same and some rather uncomfortable benches and tables. If you wanted something other than a beer, you better brought it yourself (and took your garbage home as well)!
So, why would that "experience" draw people in. Well, the beer they sold (in stores) was good but not outstanding. The stuff you got there on the other hand was just perfect. They swore that it was just one of the tanks they normally filled bottles from hooked up behind the barrel. While the thing with the fake barrel was likely true, what you got there was not comparable to what you got in the store.
Long story short, people traveled there just to enjoy a rather simple beer. Same style as you could get anywhere else for the same price - just a little bit better.
Over the years however, it turned into a tourist place (literally by the bus loads) and they certainly didn't care about the perfect Lager. One time, we got the message; the beer was just as uneventful as anywhere else. Numbers mattered now, the new big parking lot had to be paid for and bus tourists cannot only drink more, but also pay more. It wasn't about the beer itself any longer and one could taste that.
 
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