Author Topic: How to tell a craft brewer his beer is seriously flawed  (Read 6572 times)

Offline mpietropaoli

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How to tell a craft brewer his beer is seriously flawed
« on: March 27, 2013, 04:23:46 PM »
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?
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Offline euge

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Re: How to tell a craft brewer his beer is seriously flawed
« Reply #1 on: March 27, 2013, 04:47:04 PM »
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.
The first principle is that you must not fool yourself, and you are the easiest person to fool. -Richard P. Feynman

Offline duboman

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How to tell a craft brewer his beer is seriously flawed
« Reply #2 on: March 27, 2013, 04:59:48 PM »
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.
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Offline tschmidlin

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Re: How to tell a craft brewer his beer is seriously flawed
« Reply #3 on: March 27, 2013, 10:55:17 PM »
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.
Tom Schmidlin

Offline majorvices

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How to tell a craft brewer his beer is seriously flawed
« Reply #4 on: March 28, 2013, 04:09:16 AM »
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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Offline ynotbrusum

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Re: How to tell a craft brewer his beer is seriously flawed
« Reply #5 on: March 28, 2013, 04:33:11 AM »
You could say that just like them, you are just getting started as a BJCP and that to really evaluate the beers they should seek a reasoned evaluation in the right setting, with a full blown grading system.  That way all aspects are given full consideration, rather than a quick on the fly summary, which would not be as helpful.  Suggest at least three judges that are or are seeking BJCP certification be part of the panel.  That way the feedback will be more useful.

Further a check on their QC measures requires a brewery trip.  Maybe the few beers they brought were a result of bottling issues and the beer was tainted by that?


If they really want to improve their product, they will seek that kind of analysis, if not then good luck with their marketing campaign. 
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Offline narvin

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Re: How to tell a craft brewer his beer is seriously flawed
« Reply #6 on: March 28, 2013, 06:47:31 AM »
If you want to help, I'd approach them privately... doing it in front of the whole club would probably not be the best time to give them unpleasant news.  Tell them that you love their brand but think the beer has some flaws.  If they seem receptive to the unpleasant criticism you're about to give, elaborate.

Otherwise, let them fail.  There's going to be lots of cheap used equipment out there in a couple of years.   :)
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Re: How to tell a craft brewer his beer is seriously flawed
« Reply #7 on: March 28, 2013, 06:59:55 AM »
If you want to help, I'd approach them privately... doing it in front of the whole club would probably not be the best time to give them unpleasant news.  Tell them that you love their brand but think the beer has some flaws.  If they seem receptive to the unpleasant criticism you're about to give, elaborate.

Otherwise, let them fail.  There's going to be lots of cheap used equipment out there in a couple of years.   :)
+1
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Offline jeffy

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Re: How to tell a craft brewer his beer is seriously flawed
« Reply #8 on: March 28, 2013, 07:08:34 AM »
Otherwise, let them fail.  There's going to be lots of cheap used equipment out there in a couple of years.   :)

That's exactly what I thought when I started reading this thread.
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Offline gsandel

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Re: How to tell a craft brewer his beer is seriously flawed
« Reply #9 on: March 28, 2013, 08:08:17 AM »
Quote
to which they both replied with quizzical looks.

This is disturbing.

Should we even be trying to encourage the marketeers?  They are the reason the industry collapsed (and took a few decent breweries with them) last time.

You wouldn't believe the things I've seen...

Offline joe_feist

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Re: How to tell a craft brewer his beer is seriously flawed
« Reply #10 on: March 28, 2013, 09:13:15 AM »
These guys are going to get their feedback - one way or another. Might as well be with some one they can have a conversation with versus an empty bar room when customers stop showing up. I'd agree that off to the side is probably more polite and tactful than in front of a group. Starting up a new brewery -  Man, it's a ton of cash and risk. I'd like to think they'd be interested in all the feedback they can get; and they'll have to be tough skinned anyway to survive in a consumer driven market with so much competition.
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Offline majorvices

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How to tell a craft brewer his beer is seriously flawed
« Reply #11 on: March 28, 2013, 09:51:50 AM »
It's amazing how many people will drink bad beer and think that's just the way craft beer is supposed to taste like.
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Offline joe_feist

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Re: How to tell a craft brewer his beer is seriously flawed
« Reply #12 on: March 28, 2013, 03:26:26 PM »
You may be right about people drinking bad beer. I hope you're wrong, but time will tell. I think, based on absolutely nothing quantifiable, that we'll "thin the heard" and eventually the bubble will burst. Hopefully, the best will manage to hang in there.
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Offline snowtiger87

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Re: How to tell a craft brewer his beer is seriously flawed
« Reply #13 on: March 28, 2013, 03:27:36 PM »
I have kind of the same problem with a local brewery. It was started by an award winning homebrewer and a great professional brewer. They have a great location and their place is always packed, but their beer sucks. They haven't asked for feedback but I want to give it anyway.
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Offline donsmitty

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Re: How to tell a craft brewer his beer is seriously flawed
« Reply #14 on: March 28, 2013, 03:41:04 PM »
If you want to help, I'd approach them privately... doing it in front of the whole club would probably not be the best time to give them unpleasant news.  Tell them that you love their brand but think the beer has some flaws.  If they seem receptive to the unpleasant criticism you're about to give, elaborate.

Otherwise, let them fail.  There's going to be lots of cheap used equipment out there in a couple of years.   :)

Absolutely the right approach.