When you’ve been drinking at brewpubs (and writing a beer column) as long as I have, you hear a lot of opinions.
Most of these opinions are harmless takes on various brews, styles and/or beer industry news/trends. They are the fodder for lively exchanges between those of us who belly up to the bar and engage in the camaraderie that comes with that territory.
But I also have repeatedly heard certain opinions that make my eyes roll back in my head. These are usually also harmless, but irritating in their generic ignorance. I always try to be kind when responding to such opinions, even though they are often promulgated by those who seem like know-it-alls (one of my least favorite types of person).
So I decided to write about four particular contentions that I have heard more than once over the years – ones that make me have to bite my tongue a bit.
“This beer is no good.”
I think what you actually meant to say is, “I don’t like this beer.” Just because you don’t enjoy something doesn’t relegate it to the “no good” category. We all have our own tastes, which are largely subjective. Chances are that the beer you’re talking about is made well and enjoyed by plenty of people. Otherwise it probably wouldn’t be on the beer menu at the establishment where you’re drinking.
Sure, you may get a beer that’s actually gone bad, or maybe a problem surfaced with a particular batch, and the beer you got is indeed “no good.” But many times, it’s just a taste preference thing. We are all the center of our own universes, but we should try not to make ourselves the center of everyone else’s.
“This beer changed; it used to be better.”
Do beers change? Sure. They do so for various reasons. But you know what else changes. Your palate. Age, illness, climate, your mood, and a host of other factors can affect how you perceive things, including your tastes. So maybe your local brewery tweaked your favorite stout and you noticed because you’re incredibly familiar with it. But I’d also wager that in many cases, your palate has shifted.
“They changed the recipe of this beer.”
This is really opinion 2-b, as it’s an offshoot of the one above. Barroom “experts” love to hold court about this sort of thing. And guess what? They may actually be right. My issue with this opinion isn’t that it’s wrong. It’s the way it’s often stated as a criticism. Yes, breweries sometimes have to change recipes for different reasons. Maybe a hop variety is not available. Or maybe the price of certain ingredients would raise the price to an untenable level. Or maybe the brewer is someone who likes to tweak his brews to try to make them better (especially true in smaller breweries). Or any number of other reasons.
Things change. Your favorite TV show gets canceled. Your favorite band breaks up. Apple makes you use EarPods instead of wired earbuds. You can whine about these things, but it ain’t gonna help. And when it comes to beer recipes, cut your local brewer some slack.
“This place makes too many (IPAs/sours/weird beers/whatever).”
Some breweries focus on a style. Some find a niche with a certain type of brew. Some just make what they like. But guess what? Whatever the menu reflects also must work for the place, otherwise it would not stay in business. Except for incredibly tiny venues with limited tap handles, I’ve never seen a beer place without a reasonable selection (again, unless that’s its thing: to focus on one corner of the market).
Maybe it’s actually you who has the limited viewpoint. A place doesn’t have your favorite style? Try something different. We all can always open our minds a bit more.