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Aren't they missing something?

Just as it happened last year, I had a great time with Knut Albert at at Zlý Časy. While we were enjoying several of the 16 beers they had on tap, we spoke about many things, most of them beer related (I bet you are surprised by that).

There was a topic that stayed in my mind after the evening was finished. It might be something that does not concern some of the more developed markets, but it does apply to those where the micros are just starting to make some sort of impact.

I'm not going to discuss here the advantages of pasteurising/filtering or not, neither of bottle fermenting, because that is not what we talked about with Knut. It was something more cynical, if you want. Picture the scenario:

You love "good beer", you might even consider yourself a "beerevangelist". You also make a point in supporting your local micro-breweries (provided their beers are good, of course). You are organising a BBQ. You see the event as a good opportunity to introduce your friends to what you see as quality beer.

Which beers from your local micros will you offer them?

Before answering thing about this: It's a barbecue, so beer will have to be easy to drink. It can't be too strong or complex. Nobody will be interested in bouquet, mouthfeel or citrus and tropical fruit notes, they will want to have good beer with their steaks (or whatever you'll be grilling), period.

I'm sure some of you already have a list. Before you go shopping, think about this: It's a barbecue. Will you have enough glasses for everyone? And even if you do, will you want to wash them after the party (many people will eat with their hands, they'll be really greasy!)?

You'll have to find something that can be drunk from the bottle.

How many beers have you got on your list now?

Even if the glasses were not an issue, sediments will be. Many people will not like the look and/or the taste of them.

Your only choice then will probably be buying some good industrial beer. I'm sure you'll be able to find some, but your beerevangelist plans were shattered before they even got a start.

What we wondered was if all stuff about not filtering and bottle-fermenting (and to a certain extent, not pasteurising) isn't playing a bit against the ambitions of reaching the most possible people. I'm not saying that these micros will have to change their philosophies, but they should consider brewing something that could be more accessible to the novice or that it can fit into situations like the one described above (which isn't so unreal, either). Perhaps, thanks to that, there will be more people willing to explore a bit further.

Na Zdraví!

PD: While writing this I couldn't but think how much of this "unfiltered, unpasteurised" is actually product of a philosophy, and how is product of some sort of financial reality.

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  1. Why does it have to be from the bottle? Get a keg of something good and a shed load of plastic glasses.

  2. The barbecue or beach picnic both make bottle-conditioned beers a bit redundant. Brooklyn Lager or Brown Ale are my barbecue beers of choice at the moment -- they're both great from the bottle, and have lots of flavour.

  3. Al,

    A keg is a good option. However, it's got its logistic problems, and there's also the waste from people who don't know how to pour the beer, besides, in many cases you won't have solved the problem with the yeasts.

    Unless you have moved, those Brooklyn brews don't sound very local...:)

  4. Weizen is a nice answer, its supposed to be cloudy so no one can complain. :-) Otherwise, You can either pour the beer for your guests if you have beer on sediment and leave the majority of it behind if it bothers them, or pour it into ceramic mugs and they will be none the wiser. Or call it like it is, I remember drinking Yeast filled lagers at a few major breweries in the Czech Republic, fresh out of the bright tank. No one seemed to mind,

    Most breweries filter their beer because it cuts down on the time before they can serve it. Beer with yeast that hasn't flocculated out takes longer to taste the way you want because of the small particles floating about.


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