BeerDorks.com: Reviews, Commentary and Opinions on Midwest Craft Beer and Microbreweries

 
January 20, 2010

Beer Diary:

Sacrifices

Getting a skunked beer every now and then is a tiny price to pay in order to enjoy the wide varieties of splendor that is craft beer.
by Eddie Glick

I like my beer like my women: pale, strong, full-bodied, and extremely bitter.
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So I got an infected beer the other day. How did I know it was infected? Well, first off, the bottle erupted like Mt. Vesuvius. But instead of liquid hot magma, it was, you know, foamy beer. Second, when I poured it, the beer foamed up WAY more than normal carbonation could have accounted for. And lastly, it smelled and tasted like someone had just squeezed an entire fucking lime into it. The rest of the six pack was totally fine. Just that one beer. Odd how stuff like that happens.

And it wasn’t the first time that’s happened. I’ve probably come across half a dozen skunked or infected beers in my time. But if you’re waiting around for me to identify the breweries that brewed them, I hope you brought along a carton of smokes and a deck of cards, ‘cause it’s going to be a while. No, the point of this article isn’t about pointing fingers at craft brewers. But I find it interesting that all the brewers these skunked beers came from had one thing in common: they were small outfits, even as craft breweries go.

Which isn’t really surprising. Small breweries may not necessarily have the manpower, experience, or equipment to conduct the quality control even moderately sized craft brewers almost take for granted. That isn’t saying that it’s impossible to get a skunked or infected brew from, say, Sam Adams or Sierra Nevada, but it seems you run across this kind of thing more often—although, still very rarely—with smaller breweries.

I’m willing to sacrifice a handful of skunked brews in order to be able to try beers from small breweries across the Midwest.
But, again, this article isn’t about bashing craft breweries, no matter what their size. Because I am more than willing to sacrifice a handful of skunked brews—and, not to mention, a score or two of dollars—in order to keep being able to drink unique beers from small breweries across the Midwest. To me it’s a small price to pay to get a chance at sampling one brewer’s passion for his or her craft or a tiny brewery’s wild, unorthodox take on an established style or one out-of-the-way brewpub’s superbly satisfying session beer.

Besides, if I wanted crystal clear, over-filtered “beer” that was guaranteed to always be exactly the same bottle to bottle, batch to batch, year to year, I’d drink industrial, soulless swill like MGD. Legendary publican Mark Dorber once said, “Consistency is not the god of beer.” I’ll even go so far to say that I don’t want the beer to taste exactly the same every batch or every year. I want to have conversations along the lines of “Does Breakfast Stout taste more strongly of coffee this year?” “Is Oberon a bit hoppier than last summer?” “Does Eishpyre have a bigger, grainier malt profile than the first time we had it?”

These are the reasons that running across a bottle of infected beer every year or two is a tiny, infinitesimal sacrifice compared to the only way to guarantee a “perfect” beer every time: no craft beer at all.





Comments
It's happened to all of us, but I have noted one local brewer that is skunked on a regular basis. If not consumed within roughly 3 months, it never fails... you always get that stale, disagreeable flavor. Once in the consumers hands, however, the beer absolutely HAS to be stored properly, or the skunking is not necessarily the fault of the brewer, but rather the guy who stored it in his garage in July.
posted by Nigel | January 20, 2010, 12:14 PM
I find that one is burdened with the occasional stinker less often as QC and professionalism gets better among even the very small brewers.
To me, I'm slightly more put off by some small brewpubs, who've hired a bartender to brew the beer, and put out glass after glass of DMS or bascillus.
Regardless, your premise is well taken - the beauty of a hand-crafted beer is the same as a sunset, fine dinner or perfect golf shot: its an uncommon experience to be appreciated and savored.
posted by rings | January 20, 2010, 12:20 PM

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