14 May 2010

Taking care of the product

Much has been talked, here and in other blogs about "Bad Beers". Not bad in the "I don't like it" sense, but bad as in "badly brewed". There are micros that knowingly put flawed beers on the market, which, besides being very disrespectful towards the consumer, shows a lack of foresight that borders idiocy. In order to earn a bit of money in the short term, they risk getting ruined in the long term. Few are those who will drink again a new beer they found disgusting, while a lot are those who will tell to anyone who will listen to avoid drinking that crap, no matter if it is "craft", "industrial", "regional" or "imported".

However, and to be fair, many times happens that beers that left their breweries in perfect conditions still get to our glasses in bad shape due to several factors, bad conditions in transport or storage, not enough rotation or bad maintenance of the dispensing lines, etc. In those cases the brewer can say "it's not my fault, once the bottle/barrel leaves the brewery I loose all control over it" and nobody can argue that.

Well, yes, we can.

If we think a bit, that "loosing control of the product" thing, though true is also quite relative. How many micros bother to visit the places that sell their beers to see in which conditions they reach the final consumer? How many micros talk to potential buyers and explain them the care their beers require? How many micros will refuse to sell their beers to those who don't want,or can't, provide such care?

Before anyone says anything, I know very well that setting up a brewery and making it work is no joke and that every heller will be welcome, regardless of where it comes from. But things should also be seen in the above mentioned long term.

The truth is that most people don't know anything about beer, and they care even less, and that, unfortunately, also applies to many who sell the drink. To this we should add that consumers can act in a strange fashion. If someone gets a dodgy bottle or glass of a beer they already know, they'll blame luck, but if they get a dodgy bottle or glass of a beer they don't know, specially if it's a "craft beer" with all it's fuss and usually higher price, they'll blame the producer. Few will be the barkeeps or shop attendants who will know how, or want, to explain things. They are more likely to say "but when I had it at the brewery it was great" or "but when I tapped the keg or cask a week ago it was lovely" and other similar stuff.

Not being aware of situations like this and not taking reasonable steps to prevent them from happening is not knowing how to take good care of a product and brand.

Na Zdraví!

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5 comments:

  1. Having worked behind a bar on and off now for almost a year, I think the most important thing, unless doing cask of course, is to keep the lines clean. In an ideal world I would say to clean the lines whenever you change keg, though I am not sure that would be feasible when you have a packed bar and everyone wants their beer. Otherwise, every week should be the bare minimum.

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  2. As you know pretty well, here they always flush the lines each time they tap a new keg, even if the pub is full and even if they are tapping the same beer. (well, at least that's what they do at proper hospody)

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  3. Yes but I think even the average Czech consumer is more knowledgeable about how a good pivo should taste than many people over here.

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  4. Fuller's have a roving quality inspector who visits their London pubs to make sure their beer is sold in optimum condition. Outside London, though, the quality is noticeably more variable. It must be galling as a brewer to read a bad review of your lovingly crafted product when you know it's not your fault but the fault of the seller.

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  5. Several breweries here do the same, even PU. Pubs will proudly display their certificates of quality, and that is a great thing for everyone.

    And yes, it must be terrible to see a bad review of your beer when it's not directly your fault, but it can't be as bad as a pub owner saying he/she doesn't want to stock your beers anymore because patrons complain they are sour, and you know it's not your fault.

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