Written by Tom Becham for professorgoodales.net
Sam Calagione, owner of Dogfish head Brewing, and poster boy for craft brewing, once said, “We like to say our industry is 99% asshole free.”
Largely, I’ve found Mr. Calagione’s statement to be true. But there is always that 1% to contend with, both in the form of individuals and companies.
In the category of companies, I have a particular beef with those who want to profit from the craft beer boom, but don’t care about delivering a quality product. There are many such examples I could list, but the most recent and vexing one involved a recent visit I made to the Total Wine chain here in California. I picked up a bottle of Jever Pilsner, a classic German example of the style, as I’d not ever had it before. And part of this is my fault, of course, for not looking at the back label and seeing the “best by 04/20/12” stamp. So, of course, when I opened the bottle, an overwhelming smell of skunky hops hit me like a brick. And there was no carbonation whatsoever. The beer was just too old and lightstruck (green bottle, of course) to be any good.
You’d think a large chain like Total Wine would have enough respect for customers to keep their stock updated. They certainly have enough staff standing around doing nothing that they could spare one or two to remove old product from display areas. But most likely, they’re just trying to eek out a few more bucks at the expense of hapless customers. Of course, they’re also being disrespectful to the brewers, as presenting a spoiled product may just lose business for the brewery in question in the long run. Unfortunately, this chain carries many products unavailable anywhere else in this region.
My example of an individual may be more controversial. Recently, I attended the Stone Brewing Sour Beer Fest, at the brewery grounds. (I resist posting any tasting notes from that festival, as at festivals, my notes tend to start out very detailed and meticulous, but after about the tenth sample, consist of profundities which in their entirety might read, “Yum!”) While there, I saw “Dr.” Bill Sysak, Stone’s Cicerone and one of their PR people.
Bill is apparently very popular with many people, and my issues with him may be partially my fault. Nonetheless…
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