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No liniency

The other day the girls from 2D2dspuma wrote a long and very good rant about what they expect from craft beers (they own a shop in Barcelona, the centre of the craft beer movement in Spain). In a nutshell, the beers should be good and interesting (what is that makes a beer interesting is perhaps topic for another discussion, but even if it's in Spanish, read the post).

In the comments, one of the authors of Hipos Urinatum says he mostly agrees with what's written above and adds that in his reviews he prefers to be lenient towards micro-brewers, something I'd already seen mentioned more than once. The reason, setting up a brewery is really difficult and bad reviews from popular bloggers can harm their business.

I'm well aware of the the difficulties and risks of starting up a brewery, of how hard it is to find people that will buy your products, and I've got no doubt of the growing importance that blogs are having and that is why I really like supporting these brewers.

But what if they make bad beer?

And I don't mean something I don't like or find boring, but something badly brewed. Do we really have to go easy on those beers and their brewers? Why?

Many of them don't work with professional equipment, aren't qualified to brew commercially and have little, if any, idea of quality control (and no, "my cousin and my mates like it a lot" is not quality control) or simply don't have enough talent. However, they still expect us to pay premium price for their sub-par beers.

I'm convinced that these people aren't cynics that just got on a fad to make a quick buck (and if any of them are, well, they are morons to begin with). At least most of them surely are people with a lot of enthusiasm and passion for beer, but the reality is that today more than ever we should get good value for our money and unfortunately, their beers aren't worth it. If any negative review of mine or other bloggers is bad for their business, I'm really sorry, but first and foremost I'm a consumer and think like one.

Being lenient towards them is being unfair with those that have invested and still invest enough time and money on equipment, learning, quality control, etc.

Na Zdraví!

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  1. I have said many a time that it is not the label on the bottle that is important, but rather the beer in the bottle. Just because it is made by a micro rather than a large brewery does not make it any better a beer.

    This is especially true of pilsners in the American market, given a choice between practically any microbrewed "pilsner" over here and tankova Pilsner Urquell then Urquell will win almost every time.

    I also think the term "microbrew" is somewhat misleading as a catch all for beer not made by the likes of InBev and SABMiller; would Fuller's be a "microbrewery"? Would Budvar? Would Samuel Adams? Surely the better term would be "craft brewery"?

  2. I'm speaking exclusively about micros, the start up kind specially. Fuller's, Budvar, Sam Adams and others of that size can be harmed by bad reviews from a few bloggers, really, but a small brewer that is just getting their name known, yes.

  3. That just means you have to get it right from the start. That is the nature of the free market after all, just because a start up is trying to break into a competitive market doesn't mean they should get favours from bloggers. If they want good reviews then make good products, simple as. I someone wants to spend a ton of cash to build a brewery and then produces sub-standard beer then that person will get the commentary they deserve.

    While they may not have "professional" equipment that only brings to mind the old saying that only a bad workman blames his tools. Forgive my arrogance but when I can a witbier that The Beer Nut described as "genuinely excellent" with a cobbled together home brew setup, then tools are not really an issue.

    Also, in talking of Samuel Adams in particular, let's not forget that it isn't so long ago that they were a start up, and at a time when blogging didn't exist. It was the quality of their beer that got them recognised (winning a beer award after 6 weeks in business is not bad going!).

    In closing mi'lord, bloggers have no responsibility to help a microbrewery succeed or otherwise (that's is why they pay brewers, marketing, sales and other people). A beer blogger's only responsibility is to write honestly about the beer they are drinking.

  4. A cautionary tale may be read from the early to mid-1990's in the United States and Canada, when many a "micro" doled out poor quality, sometimes infected beer and tarnished the entire segment as a result. Although it's obviously much less likely to happen over here today, at the time a number of people were just starting to experiement with non-Big Three beers, and if they tried one that was oxidized or sour or full of DMS, their reaction was often "well, if this is what microbrewing is all about, I'll stick with my big label beer."

    Beer that is not to one's taste is one thing; beer that is demonstrably flawed is quite another. During the major "brewery cull" of that time, a lot of the breweries that went out of business were ones brewing poor products, but sadly they took with them quite a few businesses whose only sin was guilt by association (and maybe less-than-stellar marketing).

  5. It is exactly what is happening in Argentina and other "beer emerging markets". "Craft Beer" is being talked about a lot, so people want to have a go at it and they find that they have spent quite a bit of money on something that isn't good. And you must know very well how it is, people think about "craft beer" as one thing.


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