I think we have all been there. You grab a couple new beers at the Liquor store and rush home with your treasures, eagerly anticipating a night of exciting things. Chilled and waiting after dinner, you open the first one and watch the cascade of liquid fill your glass, hoping for the aromas and flavours to match what the brewer has promised. Watching the final drops flick into the foamy head, you sniff and feel like something's off. A little deeper perhaps and still, it comes up short. No worries though, clearly the first sip will reveal the true depth of character this beer has been presented to us with, flavours will surely come forth to justify you spending your beer budget on this exciting looking new beer.
Except it doesn't and now you aren't sure what to do. Do you keep drinking it, clearly it isn't hitting the style marks or descriptions given to you. The early excitement fades and the promise of a fun night has morphed into a disappointing evening of self doubt and recriminations. You could have stayed with your tried and true craft beer favourites, but you want try new things because that is what this whole thing is really all about. While every beer certainly can't be the very best ever, they should at least hit the level of competent and close to style.
|Who wants to go back to the old generic beer days?|
The rush to market feel I have seen recently looks like the tip of the iceberg and this Titanic voyage is just getting started. I can understand people who have been home brewing for years banding together with like minded friends or family and making a go of commercial brewing. Be it as a contract brewer or an actual brick and mortar shop, those dreams are worthy and I support anyone willing to undertake it with an honest and open plan. But we all know the ones that just don't feel right. Slick marketing, glossy photo spreads, product placement for money and a general sense of a disingenuous approach to a community that still feels very grassroots at its base. The heart we so often speak of cannot be found in such places or brands and the slimy feeling you get is because deep down you know what you're drinking.
There can be some difficulty in trying to separate the real from the fake because it can subjective but the people who make up the strength of the craft beer movement, the drinkers and lovers of well made, independent beer can sense when someone is feeding them bullshit. Poorly made beer that is sent out because they have deadlines or investors isn't just the calling card of a contract brewer, some long term brewers have reputations for sub par releases that make you wonder how gullible we appear. Getting a listing at the LCBO means you've passed some kind of quality control but it doesn't ensure that quality translates into something resembling good, on point beer. Malty IPAs when they're supposed to be balanced, watery lagers to try and capture that borderline segment who want to experience craft and labels meant to catch the eye but with little in the way of substance inside. I have only found a few of these kinds of pseudo craft beers but I fear the time is upon us when the market fragmentation and the pursuit of a share of a still pretty tiny pie is deluged with witty slogans, artwork and not much substance. My experience buying wine (a story for another day entirely) gave me an inkling what it is like to be new to the scene, relying on labels and descriptions, guided by names that sound like I should know them or perhaps something someone has told me to help influence my purchase.
|I'm always learning|
I say we try to keep our social media filled with honest and straightforward discussions about what we are drinking. You will know I am not a person who ever trashes a brewer or even a beer as being intentionally bad. Rather I let the world know that it's not for me, missing some key mark or flavour along the way to explaining why it wasn't a beer I'd buy again. You don't have to be an asshole about it but your friends deserve and will appreciate your opinion when they seek it out. Advocate the best in beer and try to help them when it comes to steering them into beers that match what they like about flavours and textures. Ease them into it, a triple IPA for a dedicated Bud Light drinker isn't doing them or the beer any favours.
|It's always been true for me,|
If you're an explorer of craft beer like me, you're going to try every beer you can get your hands on and as long as you try to see them for what they are stylistically rather than trying to attack them, you will help the cause go further with those who are asking your counsel. Let's make the conversation about what is the best side of our beer but not without acknowledging the weak spots and poor decisions we see on the shelves. Call them out, be truthful and always use your words wisely as those who seek your council will be grateful for your candor. Let the light of truth shine on your pursuit and always keep a sense of wonder about just how amazing this time is for people who love great beer.