I have to tell you, this kind of "let's treat craft beer with kid gloves" stuff has been bugging me for years. It's one of the main reasons I started this blog and my website. I don't have a lot of patience with people who blast beers from positions of ignorance -- "This IPA sucks! I hate hoppy beers!" -- but when a beer is not good -- poorly packaged, poorly formulated, or just plain insipid -- I don't want to be told by some brewer that it wouldn't be nice to say so, or that if I felt I had to say so, I should say so nicely.
Hey, we've all heard it from mothers and grandmothers (and editors): if you can't say something nice, don't say anything. Well, how am I going to talk about light beer, then? Seriously, if a critic can't say negative things, he's gagged. And if I can't say those negative things in an entertaining, creative way...what the hell am I getting paid for?
He is right but in being right also begs the question of the importance of his rightness. Don't get me wrong. I like Lew lots. I even make a point of paying for his books and not hitting him up for review copies largely because he was an early adopter or at least supporter of my blogging about beer, what, for the best part of four years now. All I mean is like any voice with audience you have to remember that the subject matter itself is the important thing. Last month I thought out a bit of my mini-manifesto around being a fan. But while I am a fan of the great brewer I am really a fan of the brew more than anything. And I am really only a fan of what the brew does for me...not Lew... not the brewer... and not you out there (however nice you all are - and you are.) As a result, I am quite content not to get Cantillon and other Belgian sour beers, quite content to describe Rodenbach Grand Cru thusly...
That is all there but you have to appreciate that the acidity is that of a sub-puckeringly sharp wine. Vinous does not cover how sharp. Tart but only in the sense of King Tart of the Tartonians. Within the tart the is some reflection of spice and certainly a gooseberry-rhubarb custard trifle would go well with this.
...or to say of another of its general ilk: "I cannot hate it. Yet I am sure it hates me."
If someone does not agree with me I do not understand how that changes the experience I have when those thing-like-fluids are in my mouth. For me, it is only about the fluid just as a pub is only about the actual experience you have or I have - not the hype or the good time a pal's sister's friend had 15 months ago. That may mean you have to take yourself seriously, too, and pay attention to what is in the glass and not rely on others anymore, even me, than you would rely on advertising or if the brewer is friendly, starting out or your cousin.
There. Another bit of the manifesto.