Aug 15, 2011

What is a "Good Beer"?

I am asked this question a lot. I think people ask me this question expecting a long drawn out answer, which delves into various aspects of beer and its production, such as ingredients, style, brewing technique, aging, price point, and most importantly, the label on the bottle.

I would argue that, on an individual basis, these aspects of beer have very little to do what one should consider a “good” beer. These things will make up what one might consider a “quality” beer, but a good beer? I argue a good beer has to do with one thing, and one thing only, taste. I’ve had many beers that I would consider “quality” beers that I did not care for at all. Conversely, I’ve had beers that many would not consider “quality” beers that I absolutely love.

Enter, the “Beer Snob”…..

A "Beer Snob"
A term I hate to be called, but have called many people that vary same thing. Why do I hate to be called a beer snob? Because I don’t feel I am. I purchase beer based on a number of things, style, price, a brewer I respect, and most importantly, taste. However there are really only 2 things that will prevent me from buying a beer, price, and taste. If it is too expensive, I won’t buy (i.e. Lost Abby’s “Angels Share”, $30 a bottle) or taste (Bud Light, Coors etc, not because they are brewed by one of the “Big 3”, I just don’t like the taste). A true “snob” will dismiss any brew from the big 3. I don’t buy beers from the big 3 normally. To me, there are far better offerings out there, however, when offered some of what they brew, I will take them and enjoy them. Some examples, Shock Top and Blue Moon, (made by Anheuser Busch and Coors), I think these beers are quite enjoyable. I know more than a few folks that won’t even consider drinking it, and have even heard some make fun of those that do, because they are made by the massive brewers. It’s even getting to the point where some great craft brewers are being lumped into this category because they have gone national. Boston Beer Company (makers of Sam Adams) and Sierra Nevada are getting large enough to be losing some of the more die hard “beer snobs” despite the fact that they produce from quality, very tasty beers. Dogfish Head has taken heat recently for being the subject of a TV show on Discovery.

To me, that one thing that has no bearing on quality in a brew is the size of the batch it is made in. If you make a great beer, and you make it in a 250,000 gallon batch, does that make it any less great? If you make an awful beer 5 gallons at a time, does that somehow make it just a little better?

So, if you were looking for a list of recommendations from this post, sorry, I can’t suggest to you what I think you might like, at least not without talking to you first, and learning the styles and beers you know you currently enjoy. My best advice to you, try it, if you like it, it’s a good beer. If you love it, then congrats, you’ve found a great one!

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