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On critcism and the “craft beer community”

MONDAY BEER LINKS, MUSING 03.03.14

In craft beer community, everyone’s a critic — and that can be good. Do we give Khris Johnson of Green Bench Brewing in St. Petersburg, Fla., high marks, low marks, or something between for this thought? “It is absolutely appropriate for consumers to criticize craft brewers. The fact is that standards must remain extremely high. People should expect the best and I think they should get it. I don’t think that positive or negative criticism is a bad thing. I think that uneducated criticism is.” I was doing fine until he got to the uneducated part. Not sure who should be the arbiter there. [Via Tampa Bay Times]

Was it ever Gruit Britain? The herb ale tradition. “… it would certainly be wrong to say, or imply, that ‘gruit’ was the name applied to herb ales in Britain in the pre-hop period. So don’t, please.” [Via Martyn Cornell’s Zythophile]

Braukunst Live! 2014. As the headline suggests, this post focuses on “new school” breweries at Braukunst Live! Start there, but take the time for three other related posts. [Via The Bitten Bullet]

Virginia breweries go to the farm. The new Farm Brewery license for breweries is for those that manufacture no more than 15,000 barrels of beer per calendar year; are located on a farm in Virginia; and use agricultural products that are grown on the farm in the manufacture of their beer. [Via Yours For Good Fermentables]

“Big beer” innovation – Q&A with MillerCoors brewmaster. A question you sure as heck would not have heard asked 10 years ago at a brewery, let alone at one of the largest brewing companies in the world: “Are you a certified cicerone?” [Via Paste]

8 Responses to On critcism and the “craft beer community”

  1. The Professor March 3, 2014 at 11:59 am #

    re: Craft Criticism:
    I think the author of the article is right on. I’ve felt the same way and have expressed that opinion for years.

    With the virtual explosion of craft breweries and brewpubs in recent history, it has become abundantly clear now more than ever that ‘smaller’, ‘local’, or ‘craft’ clearly isn’t a guarantee of quality.

    Putting balance and personal taste issues aside (as any critic should do) for all of the well made brews out there today, there are also some small brewers putting out some rather questionable products. Nowadays, new breweries open and close at a high rate…but sometimes when they close, it can be considered an act of mercy.

    Like everyone here, I believe and enjoy the fact that there are certainly _more_ great beers available now than when I came ‘of age’ in the late 1960s. That said, I find it interesting interesting to note that (by my calculations), while the _number_ of great beers has increased, the _ratio_ of great beers to ‘meh’ beers seems to have stayed about the same. There are actually some beers from the 1960’s that I dearly miss which would sit very comfortably right alongside the very best of what is being made today by the new brewers…it wasn’t really the dark ages at all back then… if you knew where to look).

  2. Alan March 3, 2014 at 12:18 pm #

    “Because the beer had that character (which I love and intended), the consumer implied that it was a poorly made beer because the beers they’ve had in the past didn’t match up with that one.”

    That is funny. He is seemingly unaware that his intentions might be misguided. It’s not good beer because it tastes as intended. It’s good beer because it tastes good.

    • Stan Hieronymus March 3, 2014 at 12:38 pm #

      Exactly, Alan. Saturday I tasted a couple of beet beers, and a beet mead. Well made and they deserve the medals they win in competitions because they taste the way the brewer intended. But I don’t like beets.

  3. Alan March 3, 2014 at 1:27 pm #

    Interesting that this is concurrent with the assertion thar adjuncts are now “traditional”: http://www.brewbound.com/news/brewers-association-revises-craft-brewer-definition

    You know what is actually traditional? Brewers telling drinkers what to drink, that they should pay more and that they might as well clam up about it. I like beets, too, but no more in my beer than my shoes.

    • Stan Hieronymus March 3, 2014 at 1:58 pm #

      And, speaking of corn, do you think this means the “I am a craft brewer” video needs to be revised?

      • Gary Gillman March 6, 2014 at 4:43 am #

        Not really Stan because most will agree I think that an excessive use of adjunct – and for some any use – is a departure from traditional brewing standards. The argument that U.S. mass market beer is traditional because made for generations is essentially rhetorical. It has just enough power to have made a difference clearly in this latest BA decision, but you can still have a rule that says put in what you want but we stand for something with character and substance. That is what it comes down to for me.

        The situation now is much like that where CAMRA has no issue with use of sugar. But if beers were brewed with 50% sugar, say, that does not mean these beers are as valid as those brewed with 15%. It just doesn’t. As always distinctions need to be made, opinions expressed.

        The BA had to change because of the direction and diversification of craft brewing in recent years – it is a natural thing. Maybe one day the independence criteria will go too but I don’t think we’re there yet. Not when craft brewing regards a 20% market share as a Valhalla it will still take some years to reach.

        Gary

  4. Steve March 4, 2014 at 1:05 pm #

    Stan,

    What are your opinions on people posting a review/reviewing a beer when they admittedly don’t like the style? Its tough for a reviewer to look at a beer subjectively when they just don’t care for that style. Should they even be publishing a review or criticizing a beer when they admitted themselves that they don’t like the style (and often include that in the review)?

    • Stan Hieronymus March 4, 2014 at 1:55 pm #

      Steve – I think it can be done well, but I don’t understand why somebody would bother – unless it is part of a job. “Here are the beers you must review.”

      In addition, to understand a style it helps to drink many different examples, which you are less inclined to do if you don’t like the style.

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