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How to tell a craft brewer his beer is seriously flawed

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mpietropaoli:
The brewer and founder of a new farm brewery/hop farm in our area came to one of my clubs meetings recently.  They have an AMAZING story, great packaging, and seemed like great guys overall.   They are doing cool festivals, do a lot for their community, and have helped with legislative matters. 

Then we tried their beer....

Every one of them (4 different beers) produced on a 7bbl system were extremely flawed.  Acetaldehyde, fusels, lots of sulfur (?)...borderline offensive beer. 

They said they would love feedback, but I didn't necessarily feel comfortable sitting back, twirling my imaginary mustache, and asking them about pitch rates and yeast viability.  However I did ask them, "What yeast do you use in this beer", to which they both replied with quizzical looks.  Mind you, there was an amber, an IPA, a bitter, and a stout.  The reply was "one of the dry ones", but I'm not even sure they were fully confident in their answer. 

Part of me was thinking of emailing them privately and suggesting they get some formal sensory analysis done (politely).  I am awaiting my BJCP written exam grade, but am currently only a Provisional judge, so I'm not sure if that means me. 

Thoughts from pro brewers?   Homebrewers?

euge:
Why not ask to have a tour of their brewery? Learn some more because I have a lot of questions for them already... Maybe they hired a s***ty brewer and are just doing the PR work while being ignorant of even what we would call basic knowledge? Conversely, maybe they;re learning the process on the fly having some how conjured up a brewery after brewing a few kits! ;D

Bad beer though. Whew. Maybe you could end up with a dream job! What have you got to lose after a tour and some samples? Maybe present some better beer.

duboman:
As mentioned, ask for a tour and a private tasting to offer constructive criticism on how they might improve their product. After the tour you would have some insight of their process so you could provide more relevant feedback.

tschmidlin:
Wow, that's a tough one.  I know some pro brewers who ask my opinion and really want it (and get it), others I don't know so well get a polite answer.  But none of them are making seriously flawed beer.

If the brewer didn't know what the yeast was, it is possible they are getting it from another brewery so they aren't 100% sure.  There are other possibilities of course, like the brewer is a bit clueless.

I would send them an email and thank them for coming to the meeting.  Let them know that you'd like to talk to them about their beer but didn't want to do so publicly at the meeting.  A tour is a great idea to see what their process is, if they are using temperature control, etc. 

If they're not really interested don't lose any sleep over it.  Like I said, many places say they are but they only really want positive feedback.

majorvices:
If they asked for feedback I say give it. Of they really want it they'll listen, if not they sink or swim on their own.

Maybe just say "your packaging and story are great but I find it challenging to enjoy the beer." If they ask for more give it to them.

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