Beer quality has been in the headlines this week.
Geoff Grigg’s column in Stuff, Geoff Griggs: There's too much faulted craft beer on the market triggered much debate on the prevalence and causes of faulty craft beer.
Geoff’s column was triggered by his reaction to beers brewed for the Smith’s NZ IPA Challenge, held in Queenstown last month. He was the competition’s head judge, but concluded, “there were only five beers for which we would have happily handed over our own hard-earned cash. That meant 17 of the 22 beers were sub-par or faulted.”
Competition organiser and Smith’s Craft Beer House general manager Chris Dickson responds:
“As an industry how can we deal with this sensitive subject?
First, and speaking as a retailer, don’t bring your beer to us if it isn’t right. It causes far more harm if you do, and you earn way more respect when you identify the issue and catch it before your customers do.
Before any fancy labels do the talking (and they inevitably will), your beer must be ready – if for no better reason than your peace of mind and self-respect. If you can't afford to pour out what you've brewed because it was done incorrectly than you need to ask yourself if you're in the right business.
Ask any brewer worth their weight in beer if they'd ever knowingly put something out that wasn't ready... 100% of the time they would say No!!
So how can brewers honestly assess their own beers and judge them before anyone else does?
Here in New Zealand you’re lucky to get any feedback, let alone criticism. That’s why judged competitions can be so useful – they give brewers some expert feedback and the chance to change recipes and processes before releasing a full batch.
Before Geoff’s article, we at Smiths decided to fly Mike Cheer from Steam Brewing to Queenstown to run a Beer Faults Masterclass. Anyone wanting to be a part of this can contact me for further information it's for everyone wanting to learn more.
Together we stand, divided we fall. One bad experience can turn even the most committed craft beer drinker off your brewery, or turn new comers off craft beer for life.
Geoff’s column has started lots of discussion and identified opportunities for issues in brewing, bottling, transport, storage, refrigeration, retail and dirty beer lines. Many people have agreed this week's discussion is well overdue.
Before we throw one-another under the bus or allow the larger corporations to condemn us in a kangaroo court of our own making, let's come up with solutions. We have the opportunity as an industry and community to use this energy to work together to improve beer quality for everyone involved.
Putting a great product in front of a customer is the responsibility of everybody in the industry. We all need to know how to identify a faulted beer and act decisively when we do.”