A Good Beer Blog


Have you read The Unbearable Nonsense of Craft Beer - A Rant in Nine Acts by Alan and Max yet? It's out on Kindle as well as Lulu.

Maureen Ogle said this about the book: "... immensely readable, sometimes slightly surreal rumination on beer in general and craft beer in particular. Funny, witty, but most important: Smart. The beer geeks will likely get all cranky about it, but Alan and Max are the masters of cranky..."

Ron Pattinson said: "I'm in a rather odd situation. Because I appear in the book. A fictional version of me. It's a weird feeling."


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Stan Hieronymus -

And shouldn't the brewery respect its customers enough to make good when beer goes bad? It seems to me that Boulevard does.

jamie -

the batch in anchorage is fab. we had it for valentines day ;)

Pivní Filosof -

I think this is honesty. The brewer thinks the beer isn't what it should be, for whatever reason, they believe many people would not have liked it and they offer a refund, Of course, your taste can be different than the brewer's and you could have actually liked the beer, fair enough, be honest too and don't ask for a refund....

Jeff Alworth -

This is such a tough decision for a brewery, and I admire anyone willing to refund money. Deschutes has a similar record with beer they're not happy with. As I understand it, Boulevard could stand to take a serious loss here. They're refunding the retail price, right? So they'd be losing actual dollars on a per-bottle refund, over and above losses on materials and payroll. All to make sure customers will trust the product.


Alan -

Stan: what was insufficient about my "so that is fine"? I know you were over the top effusive about the beer and I don't mind the refund idea but it's just a recall. Any business that does not do it is at fault. So, impressive to the point of responsible business practices. There is the famous Lost Abbey bad batch story from a few years ago and Boulevard is definitely being far more responsible.

But that is not what interests me. First, the recall is partial. It was a batch by batch thing. Second, it shows up late. And, third, what is the bad taste? I would be more interested in a tracking of what was going on in these bottles. RateBeerians speak of tang and thinness. The low end of reviews at the newly revitalized BA speak of other things but not the same thing. Some seem to be getting too much bitter and other vegetative. Are these things that time heals?

Stan Hieronymus -

Alan - I'll likely be away from the computer the next few days, Headed for Kansas City, as a matter of fact, so really shouldn't continue with the banter . . .

a) I can't help that we're four for four (two last year, two this) with the beer.

b) This is not the first recall by Boulevard. I wrote about the other together with Goose Island Sophie here. Recognizing, I think, varying opinions about "bad" beers.

c) It still looks to me like customers tasted something they didn't like, the brewery acknowledged that was an unintended flavor and stepped up. Good business practice. I fail to see how we get a leap to brewer (or brewery) worship.

We're off to Kansas City. Next step, smoked meat. I'm pretty sure I won't be coming across any bottles for Chocolate Ale, but if I do I will buy one for you.

Alan -

Fabulous. I'd take 2 pounds of smoked meat, too!

I don't know what you mean by "I can't help that we're four for four (two last year, two this) with the beer" but they do seem to be honest brokers. Yes, I do see a bit too much of the hooray. But it is everywhere, isn't it. Recall that I'm a professional buyer overseeing 200 million plus per year. I am involved with these sorts of things all the time - including "involuntary recalls" where it is my call.

I like the guys who step up but it's only part of the story. It would be nice if they were able to make it a teaching moment, too, to get information out as to why with the confidence that sharing more information makes for a stronger relationship.

Jeff Alworth -

Alan, your point is well taken, but I think the recall itself is sort of a teaching moment. For decades, American craft breweries foisted bad beer on the public, caveat emptor and good luck to ya!

(There was a brewery in Portland called Star in the mid-90s that grew so fast they were bottling beer after 4-5 days. I interviewed a guy who worked there, and he said you could hear bottles of beer exploding on palettes. And they were sending that out to customers. WAS a brewery, by the way.)

The change to recalling and standing behind your beer is a sea change in American brewing, and one long overdue. There may be further communication goals to meet (though Deschutes, when they recalled beer were explicit about brett infection; when they destroyed a batch of Black Butte Anniversary ale before release they explained why), but that's the last 5% of the issue. Give Boulevard a 95% kudos, then.

Alan -

Well, that is good and maybe one I do not appreciate as I should. I am not down on Boulevard. But there just might be more of a teaching moment. Like you, I know I have been the victim of bad craft. But I was also privy in the old days to the micro in my 1980s city saying that they were not as pleased with this batch so its 50% off. Try it. Tell us what wrong or even what is still right.I like the riskiness of eating or drinking the unexpected so I would like to scrub away any hint shame that might be implicit in as wide a recall as this. I like that they are not requiring return. But make it participatory. Crap happens. Make lemonade out of lemons. Maybe they can suggest cocktails with the batches then went bad in addition to offering the refund.

Stan Hieronymus -

Alan - Back from KC. Sorry, no Chocolate Ale in stores, so that I could send you a "bad" bottle. I expect - meaning I'll bug them eventually - that Boulevard will provide more details. their first priority was to make good on the beer. But I'm fine with them taking their time to determine what went wrong and to say what they'll do to avoid similar problems in the future.

And while we constantly acknowledge that beer is a perishable product, smoked meat even more so. Don't think it would work to mail you a couple of pounds. So I ate some for you.

Alan -

I am comforted by that knowledge. Knowing that smoked meat is being eaten somewhere is one of the finest classes of knowledge there is. In return, I had one of the finest examples of lasagna I have ever had on Saturday when over the border in northern NY. It was like savory cheese cake.

Jon Abernathy -

SUPER late to this party, but I had a "bad" bottle of the Chocolate Ale (alas all the rest in Bend I could find are of the same batch) and the dominant character of that beer was chili peppers: the earthy, fruity, slight-vegetal note, but without the heat. No chocolate either. It was actually not an unpleasant beer: IF I were looking for a chili beer. Actually one of the better chili beers I remember having.

I'm not sure how "chocolate" would have turned into "chili" exactly, and in fact one of my first thoughts was a mislabeled bottle.