Friday, May 2, 2014

Speaking My Language

Just a moment ago, Melissa Cole tweeted about some comments Garret Oliver of Brooklyn Brewery made on a post over at The BeerCast.

Naturally I popped on over and read the original article, which is interesting reading in it's own right, but Garret's comments almost had me shouting 'amen' at the top of my voice, and so I reproduce the entire comment here for liked minded souls' edification, and I encourage you to read the original article as well:
Whoa. I must admit that although I’ve spent a lot of time drinking craft beer in the UK the past few years (and 20+ years before that), I have never heard of Brewmeister. Nor have I tasted their beer or knowingly spoken to anyone who works for them. So, essentially, I know nothing about them. However, if the “charges” made are true, they are simply the latest of a new breed of brewers that we’ve seen here in the U.S. all too often lately.

Welcome, then, to the age of the “clown brewery”. I won’t name names – you know who they are. Instead of making beer to be delicious, instead of making public statements and representations that will lift all our boats, instead of standing ready at all hours to assist their fellow brewers….they put on the clown show. “Our beer is the strongest in the world.” “We have higher IBUs than any beer ever produced.” “We made a beer at the bottom of the ocean, in a cage filled with snakes.”

So let me be 100% clear. Not only do such people laugh at us beer fans, all day, every day….these people don’t even LIKE you. Do you understand? They think you’re a dupe. And like every con artist, they have nothing but contempt for their “marks”. They want fame, and they want money, plain and simple. And there’s always someone who’ll give them both. As Kurosawa said in his film title, “the bad sleep well”. Are you surprised at a lack of apology?

The current hot climate of craft beer breeds a lot of weeds. Craft brewers who speak ill of other craft brewers. Brewers whose beers are heavily flawed or have no consistency, not because the brewers are uneducated, but because they think that quality doesn’t matter, and we’ll drink anything with a cool or shocking name, story or label. Even better if it’s “rare”. A lot of them will say “hey, we’re just like punk rockers, we do things our way.” No, you’re not a punk rocker, you’re a leech and a poseur. I took the Ramones bowling. No one can tell me anything about punk – I was there and lived it. And the Ramones could PLAY. I know – I produced shows with them. So no, there are no excuses, and these people are not “punk”. There’s a big difference between artistic freedom and narcissistic cynicism.

At this year’s Craft Brewers Conference, there were 9,600 attendees. Last year there were just over 6,000. We have, in the US, 1,800 firms that have filed for federal brewer’s licenses and plan to open in the next year. From the stage, Paul Gatza, head of the Brewer”s Association, told the crowd that our culture was being threatened by new brewers who had a greater commitment to themselves than to their customers. As he pointed out, we’ve built a great thing in craft beer. Finishing his statement, he said ‘Guys…don’t fuck it up.” Here here, Paul. Only you, the beer fans, can make sure that the newbies, who we welcome with open arms, come correct.

There are also great newbies out there. Wonderful people making wonderful beer. Each one of them has left an easier and more secure path of life, leapt into thin air, and tried their best to make beers worthy of your table. I have nothing but mad respect for them. Support them, each day, every day. If they’re local, buy a pint of their beer before my beer, as a matter of principle. I hope you buy our beer too, but the new good brewers need you. The clown brewers detest you. Understand that. You know what to do.

I have no idea who the “Richard” is who posted here, but while I cannot speak to the veracity of his specific statements, I can certainly see the tide of crappiness, both organoleptic and spiritual, that some people hope to bring us. It’s dangerous to speak out these days, and some people may well take isolated quotes from this post and try to hang them around my neck. But yes, there are bad people abroad in the land. Thankfully, their ranks are small, measured in dozens, if that. They are no match for you. Send the bad ones back whence they came, plain and simple.

Garrett Oliver
The Brooklyn Brewery

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