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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Pivní Filosof -

You see? There should be a talk about quality. The fact that there are intelligent people out there who believe quality can be objectively determined is part of one root of many of the issues in the beer discourse.

There is what can be called an objective quality. It's basically determined by how well the beer reflects the intention of the brewer. if the result of the brewing process is what the brewer wanted to make, then we can say that the beer is well made. Pure, simple it can be measured and replicated, and leaves little room for discussion.

The other quality, the one I believe Ethan is talking about, is determined by the perception of the drinker, and that is purely subjective.

So, since the concept of quality, as far as the consumer is concerned, is purely subjective, then there isn't any beer in the world that can be considered intrinsically bad (or good, for that matter), as long as there are people who enjoy drinking it, and are willing to pay for it. Therefore, it's impossible to have a war against "crap beer", as some craftophiles like to say, because they'd be fighting against a taste.

All that being said. There's no such thing as a movement

Alan -

I would quibble on the idea of intention. Brewers can be less well informed about the functions of making beer. They may intend to do X. But the next brewer may be able to make or package a beer twice as well. The first may intently intend to do what they do but the beer fails objectively.

Then there is the problem of the capable dumb brewer. Loads of technical capacity but a real knucklehead. Thinks it's clever to put beer in wine barrels when the result tastes like vomit. Thinks it's clever to over hop or ram in the bark of some obscure tropical plant. These are objectively poor beers because they are badly conceived but intentionally so.

Pivní Filosof -

But then, we could say that one of the things necessary in order to produce a "well made beer" is that a brewer should be able to predict with a significant degree of certainty what the beer will taste like, even when they are putting together the recipe - it's all science after all. Then, it'll be up to the market to decide how good that beer is.

For most sour beers are awful. I wouldn't go that far myself, but I don't think I'll ever be a big fan of those beers, and yet, they seem to be all the rage among some consumers, and thus, there are more breweries having a go at them, which would never happen if they didn't have strong reasons to believe that they would be able to sell them, which in turn wouldn't happen if there hadn't at some point someone who was very successful selling those beers.

Alan -

See I like sours but know they are niche. The are not always intentional in that an inexperienced or dumb brewer gets the balance wrong. Same with a burning DIPA. And remember - beer buyers can be duped. It is called sucker juice for a reason.

Pivní Filosof -

We are speaking about the same, but from a different perspective. I'm referring to professional, skilled brewers, people who know what they are doing (even if what they do may not be to our liking). Dumb, inexperienced brewers are not much more than amateurs posing as professionals, whose apprenticeship and professional training is being financed largely by dumb, inexperienced consumers.

Alan -

I think we need to consider bands of skill level. I also do not distinguish bad planning from bad execution. What % of craft brewing is done by folk whose work you anticipate without reservation?

Pivní Filosof -

That's a good question. If we translate the idea of "craft beer" to Czech minipivovar, just for the sake of the argument, I'd say that most of the breweries I buy from are pretty consistent, which is the reason why I buy them in the first place. But I've also had some serious rubbish.

Alan -

But that's an issue. The concept is not translatable. US micro becoming craft is very different from UK CAMRA be getting craft in part is very different from the assumption that traditional local Euro brewing has anything to do with craft. For me, "craft" is a pretty small part of all brewing and largely scoped out by trendiness. I still like to use micro brewing to define what it meant 15 years ago.

Pivní Filosof -

Micro breweries is, I believe, something we can all agree on. And based on that, what I say in my previous comment still stands. Either way, and not surprisingly, the breweries that make what I consider to be the best beers also happen to be the ones who have experienced and skilled brewers in charge of the production (and owners who know what's the most sensible way to run their business)

Stan Hieronymus -

I'd like to throw Tandleman's post: Good Brewers Make a Brewery into the conversation.

Alan -

So, we have lots of plurals here: movements, bands of brewery reputation and focus as well as brewers within the brewery. This looks more like a marketplace with all the human messiness to me.