Thursday, January 28, 2016
You and I deserve better liquid.
If you ask any of your local liquor store beer buyers they will tell you our happy Colorado beer bubble has burst. It burst a couple years ago like an unfiltered, badly canned 16oz four-pack perpetually stiffening on a warm shelf. For the first time I've been hiding from new Colorado breweries, trying to protect some integrity of what I believe Craft Beer should be and how it should be presented to you, our and their customers. I love that people are inspired by craft beer. I love that people want to brew craft beer and their desire to share that enjoyment with others. Being inspired and starting a sustainable good business are too very different things.
Ken Grossman home-brewed for almost ten years before opening Sierra Nevada Brewing Company. He dumped more beer down the drain then he sold for years because Ken knew the quality wasn't good enough. He hand built or customized his entire brew-house with the help of friends to perfect his liquid. This passion has created one of the greatest independent Craft Breweries of our time. His time and passion for the industry he helped form is what makes their beers so good. Where has the passion gone? The "quick buck brewery" will never make it to the high aspirations of a New Belgium or a Sierra Nevada. Those companies did not start out distributing beer the entirety of a state within 2 years. That doesn't speak to the quality of their product at the time, but to the integrity they maintained and the quality they believed their customers deserved. One of my favorite things to ask breweries new to packaging is; "How many batches have you dumped?". I never get an answer. I'm always suddenly told how many different styles and beers they make for draft and have on tap. If a brewery hasn't dumped beer, then where are all the "test" batches going? Where is all the bad beer going? Brewers have to brew a lot of bad beer to be able to brew a really good beer consistently. I don't like being a unknowing lab rat for breweries. Serving people beer that has no standards or quality risks longevity. A large misstep I see in the craft scene. Beer consumers deserve better. We have molded the industry we all are a part of and love; consumers, retailers, distributors, breweries, brewers, farmers. We deserve better. Brew the liquid we deserve!
We, as Craft beer buyers and consumers expect more. We all haven't been trained in off flavors like Diacetyl, filtering styles, Yeasts and even pellet vs whole cone hops. But let's be honest, we can tell when a beer isn't as good as another. We know beer and let our wallets show it. Breweries are held to a higher standard now then they were 20, 10 or even 5 years ago. Yet here we are during the pinnacle of the craft brewing era in a "booming" state for craft breweries and we have shelves littered with dust collectors and potential explosives. Retailers are inundated with new breweries seemingly working hard to not only keep the selection of dust collectors and canned explosives, but to grow into a category. I'm not saying all new breweries have bad beer or liquid people do not want to buy. I'm saying that after over ten years of buying beer professionally (I've been buying beer for retail longer than most brewers have been legal to drink), I've tasted more bad new beer then good for the first time. Just because you Can doesn't mean you should've. As fast as people are being introduced to new craft beers they are flocking to trusted breweries and beers that have stood the truthful test of time. We want to love every beer we taste. It's in our nature. We also want new, but only if it has the quality and tastes that are as good as what we can already fill our glasses with. We want exciting flavors but within a quality beer. Everybody has a different palate and variety is good for the craft industry but the quality of liquid should never dwindle or be cast aside for packaging. If breweries new and old want beer to sell, be like Ken, dump beer down the drain over and over and over and over until it has the integrity and quality to become a part of our community and practice those standards forever. If breweries don't... we can not support them.