I noticed a lot of "blog" has been uploaded about the thorny issue of naming and shaming brewers of crap beer. Boak and Bailey (for it is them) kindly recapped some of the responses from the blogosphere in this post and it seems everyone has their own approach. The impetus for this debate was some Bottle Conditioned Ales (BCA's) of vinegrous qualities.
I can assure you that waving goodbye to a foaming mass of BCA isn't unusual. I have been picking up BCA's in pubs or shops since about 1993 and I have yet to find a corner of the country that hasn't spawned a hideous swamp ale, with too many breweries to remember being involved. In terms of identifying them, I, almost always, name and shame. However that's not to say there isn't an alternative.
Lets just make it clear that I love good, well made BCA's. They bring a whole new angle to the taste of the beer as it matures and often refines its character in the bottle. Having been lucky enough to drink a few vintages of Eldridge Pope Thomas Hardy Ale I can assure you that the wonder of in-bottle fermentation is quite real, and can be truly awe inspiring.
When its crap though, I am unhappy. I feel let down. And now I have a blog, I find myself bitching about it on here. Which is fine, blogs are after all solely the embodiment of the authors comment and opinion, but before I had this mouthpiece I used to write to the brewer and express my dismay.
|Actually, this is wheat beer, very good wheat beer...|
I wonder if, as I have commented on the Boak and Bailey post, doing so might remove the thorny question of whether one names or shames? I know that blogging, and more so Twatter, is meant to be up to date and virtually instantaneous, but if you correspond with said producer (this applies more to BCA's than cask) and they reply you can decide then whether or not to mention it. If they are unapologetic or indeed don't reply at all, you can present a fuller picture. Better still, if they take on board your comments, then I would suggest that is a full story with a positive ending. Positivity on blogs! Whatever next...
Well, perhaps this idea of consumer/producer interaction may already be underway. The Pub Curmudgeon has set an interesting challenge on his blog here. The BCA challenge is a request to brewers to send him a bottle of their BCA which he promises to nurture and look after properly in the prime of conditions and then open, drink (hopefully) and review. I haven't seen any reviews yet, so I must drop him an email to find out how things are going, but if we assume no or very few brewers are interested, this poses an interesting question.
Why are so few brewers willing to put their BCA's up for close inspection or review?
As I commented on Boak and Bailey before, there seems a deafening silence from the smaller producers (although some welcome comments on this post ) about BCA, so one wonders if this is a tacit acceptance that their products aren't up to scratch?
Perhaps the best solution is if producers and consumers are equally vocal - with each other. Then everyone knows where they stand.