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Double Standards

I don’t know about you guys/gals, but anytime I tell someone I’m a home brewer I often get the question: “Is it good?”. This remark is usually accompanied by a look of pity. What I find ironic is that homemade food is generally considered to be superior quality to that of factory made / mass-produced food. Yet, for some reason, homemade beer is perceived (by the average layman) to be inferior to beer purchased from a store. Annoying

I experience the opposite. I don’t mind sharing my beer, but I actually try not to tell too many that I brew because they become instantly interested and want me to bring them some. And on the occasion that I do pass samples out, I have to basically tell them that this is a one time deal and I won’t continue to supply them with beer. Even then, there are some that hassle me non-stop for more.
That’s annoying.

For 99% of us, those first few batches were a little rough.

There are a few things going on here:

  1. The uneducated beer drinker is usually turned off by good beer. Good beer is usually quite bitter, or malty, or tart, or otherwise distinctive. Budmilloors drinkers, or even fans of Blue Moon and Heineken and the like, can’t handle distinctiveness. I remember when I first started out with craft beer, I loved Hacker-Pschorr Weiss right off the bat because I liked the banana and clove, but it took me a year or two to get into Sam Adams and Pete’s Wicked because they were “so bitter”. Now, years later, I can drink 100 IBU beers with ease, as well as any sour, smoked, oaked beer you can throw at me, and in fact it takes 100 IBUs before I can detect much bitterness at all anymore. It’s all in what we are used to. My favorite beer today is Gulden Draak. Would it have been my favorite if I had tried it 15 years ago? My guess is not. Hand an ordinary joe a Gulden Draak and he’s likely to spit it out. Just because thousands of other joes or conneisseurs or whoever think it is fantastic, doesn’t mean that it tastes fantastic to everyone.

  2. Beers often/usually have flaws of some sort, yet we as humans and homebrewers are of course biased. Flaws are most common with novice brewers, overlooked in part due to that same education thing, but it can happen to anyone. When I make a bad batch, I just dump it, and this happens… often enough. In the old days, I probably would have tried to fix it with fruit or Lactobacillus, or pawn it off on others to see if they liked it. And they probably didn’t, but just smiled and acted like it was fine, even if it wasn’t. This is again where education comes in. If a homebrewer is educated (BJCP classes help immensely!), then they should not be at all surprised to admit if/when their beers have flaws. If a homebrewer is not educated and expects everyone to love their homebrew as much as they do, they will be sorely disappointed to discover the truth that their beer is not perfect to the layman or the conneiusseur alike for one reason or another, or maybe it just doesn’t suit the taste of others. If everyone winces a bit, consider that maybe your beer just really is not very good. Even bad maybe. Submission to BJCP competitions can humble you AND help you to fix any flaws. The judges don’t know you from Adam and really don’t much care if they piss you off. But they usually will give you suggestions to try to help you fix the flaws. And this brings me to my next point…

  3. Humans will feed you white lies to your face to be kind, hiding what they really feel, but not if you’re really truly asking for it. Imagine a restaurant where they serve you a big steaming pile of crap to eat, and then the chef comes out to greet you and hovers over you to see how much you like it. At first, you might smile and say oh yes it is delicious. But if he says, no really, what do you honestly think, don’t hold anything back. Then you are more likely to tell him it tastes like durian… and most people don’t like durian. We tell the truth only when cornered. Maybe your beer really is bad.

Bottom line: BJCP, baby. It is the only way to educate yourself and know if your beer really is any good. On the other hand, some of us are better left in the dark and don’t really want to be able to taste all those flaws. I used to think extract beer was pretty good. Then I learned what the “twang” was. Dammit. I used to be able to drink that stuff. Same with skunked beers like Corona and Heineken. Nowadays, I don’t drink anything in a clear or green bottle anymore. It can be a bittersweet revelation, knowing that what you are drinking is flawed. So anyway…

one thing to understand is people’s sense of taste can be Very different. I have found over the years that my wife does not like any kind of bitter flavor. I have been eating what to me was the worlds greatest orange so I hand her a slice and she puckers up and tells me it’s horrible. I never offer her a glass of beer if it is any kind of pale ale or IPA. I have a friend who tells me to always have a keg of some kind of IPA on tap or he won’t come visit.

I have a friend who thinks ketchup is spicy.

[quote=“dmtaylo2”]There are a few things going on here:

  1. The uneducated beer drinker is usually turned off by good beer. Good beer is usually quite bitter, or malty, or tart, or otherwise distinctive. Budmilloors drinkers, or even fans of Blue Moon and Heineken and the like, can’t handle distinctiveness. I remember when I first started out with craft beer, I loved Hacker-Pschorr Weiss right off the bat because I liked the banana and clove, but it took me a year or two to get into Sam Adams and Pete’s Wicked because they were “so bitter”. Now, years later, I can drink 100 IBU beers with ease, as well as any sour, smoked, oaked beer you can throw at me, and in fact it takes 100 IBUs before I can detect much bitterness at all anymore. It’s all in what we are used to. My favorite beer today is Gulden Draak. Would it have been my favorite if I had tried it 15 years ago? My guess is not. Hand an ordinary joe a Gulden Draak and he’s likely to spit it out. Just because thousands of other joes or conneisseurs or whoever think it is fantastic, doesn’t mean that it tastes fantastic to everyone.

  2. Beers often/usually have flaws of some sort, yet we as humans and homebrewers are of course biased. Flaws are most common with novice brewers, overlooked in part due to that same education thing, but it can happen to anyone. When I make a bad batch, I just dump it, and this happens… often enough. In the old days, I probably would have tried to fix it with fruit or Lactobacillus, or pawn it off on others to see if they liked it. And they probably didn’t, but just smiled and acted like it was fine, even if it wasn’t. This is again where education comes in. If a homebrewer is educated (BJCP classes help immensely!), then they should not be at all surprised to admit if/when their beers have flaws. If a homebrewer is not educated and expects everyone to love their homebrew as much as they do, they will be sorely disappointed to discover the truth that their beer is not perfect to the layman or the conneiusseur alike for one reason or another, or maybe it just doesn’t suit the taste of others. If everyone winces a bit, consider that maybe your beer just really is not very good. Even bad maybe. Submission to BJCP competitions can humble you AND help you to fix any flaws. The judges don’t know you from Adam and really don’t much care if they piss you off. But they usually will give you suggestions to try to help you fix the flaws. And this brings me to my next point…

  3. Humans will feed you white lies to your face to be kind, hiding what they really feel, but not if you’re really truly asking for it. Imagine a restaurant where they serve you a big steaming pile of crap to eat, and then the chef comes out to greet you and hovers over you to see how much you like it. At first, you might smile and say oh yes it is delicious. But if he says, no really, what do you honestly think, don’t hold anything back. Then you are more likely to tell him it tastes like durian… and most people don’t like durian. We tell the truth only when cornered. Maybe your beer really is bad.

Bottom line: BJCP, baby. It is the only way to educate yourself and know if your beer really is any good. On the other hand, some of us are better left in the dark and don’t really want to be able to taste all those flaws. I used to think extract beer was pretty good. Then I learned what the “twang” was. Dammit. I used to be able to drink that stuff. Same with skunked beers like Corona and Heineken. Nowadays, I don’t drink anything in a clear or green bottle anymore. It can be a bittersweet revelation, knowing that what you are drinking is flawed. So anyway…[/quote]

Everything you’re saying is perfectly valid, but frankly has nothing to do with the point I’m trying to make. My point is…that many people (who haven’t even tried my beer) automatically assume that homebrew is inferior to that which is purchased in a store. Whereas food made from scratch at home is presumed to be superior to that which is purchased from a store. Hence the double standard.

I think Dave has a point, there’s a large number of people who will never like craft beer no matter how much you try to educate them. They may have tried Guinness once and didn’t like it, you tell them you brew and in the back of their mind they’re thinking, “Hmm, I didn’t like that beer that everyone said was great and they’re a huge company, how can this guy make anything better in his garage?” Some people don’t like any beer so telling them you brew is like someone telling me they make their own liverwurst.

Another thing, and probably more likely, is that they’ve had friends or family members who took a stab at brewing and made crappy beer.

I too believe that Dave made numerous valuable points. all of these aspects make up some kind of bias that the uneducated have about homemade ales or even wines…

Hey Chris,
I know exactly what you are saying. I like to make my own sausage,brats,hot sticks, etc… as well as canned salsa, kraut, pickles, beets, etc… Now that i’ve been brewing beer to wash it all down, i believe it’s far better than store purchased products. A couple friends/family members agree with me, but many people don’t even want to try the stuff. They get a funny look on there face and say no thanks! I look at it as: screw 'em–more for me!! That is annoying though! :x

I do not worry -I relax and I have another as Charlie says. I make it because I like the taste and I want to make what I can as well as have the Quality product that I make and get.

I have relatives and friends that rather drink a lite crappy no taste beer than drink my stuff. They miss out and I enjoy!

The problem with the analogy of home cooked vs. store bought food is that everybody has had mac and cheese and knows that home made is much better, plus, everyone cooks or has at some point. Not everybody has had a lambic or double IPA let alone make one, craft beer is foreign to most Bud Light drinkers.

My favorite beer today is Gulden Draak. Would it have been my favorite if I had tried it 15 years ago? My guess is not. Hand an ordinary joe a Gulden Draak and he’s likely to spit it out. Just because thousands of other joes or conneisseurs or whoever think it is fantastic, doesn’t mean that it tastes fantastic to everyone.

+1
Gulden Draak is a great beer! But at almost $9.00 a glass here where I live is a little much. But once in a while I’ll splurge and get one. Along with that a Delirium Tremens is another good beer.

If someone wants to try my home brew, I inform them it will not be like a Bud,Mill,coors taste. But I also inform them that I am just learning how to make beer. There are no home brewers around me who knows what home brew should be like to tell me what they think. My friend from work lives an hour away. I was at his place watching his process. Of course he had about 4 home brews on tap. I was surprised to find mine aren’t far off from his.
I agree, don’t be polite and tell me my brew is great when you honestly think it tastes like crap. I still have the commercial stuff around for them to enjoy.

Home brewing used to have a bad rap and I think that is what is driving your perceived double standard. Due to better (fresher) ingredients, and education (the internet) it is now possible for more people to make better beer. Remember, a lot of people tried brewing using Mr Beer kits and ingredients…someone drank it.

There are definitely those people who don’t move off the same spot in terms of beer taste. A big move for them is going from Miller Lite to Miller 64. Even so, I always tell them that it is very difficult to make a beer like those, because I don’t have nitrogen to infuse in water to water down a pilsner to that level to avoid oxidation in the process. I routinely make lager beers that my friends love - they choose it over macros and craft beers, such that I always have plenty of craft beers for people to choose from - they are the ones folks bring to me because they want to “pay me back” for supplying homebrew on a regular basis. Last night I had a half dozen neighbors and friends over in the basement and it wasn’t until the very end of the evening that anyone drank anything other than my homebrew. And that was because one friend (a homebrewer with none on tap at home) brought some craft beers that he wanted to give me. I told everyone to drink his up, because I have too much laying around.

Not to brag, just stating a fact. I don’t enter competitions and I have never looked into BJCP qualification. This is just a hobby for me and I enjoy giving all of my beer away, because it is enjoyed by so many of those that I give it to. Dave makes good points, but most pro brewers would say, make a particular beer style and repeat it over and over again until you can make it the same taste every time. That is true and that is what I did to get my system down. Now I tweak recipes for fun and still make mostly pretty mainstream lagers as my go to beer and ales for experimenting on different yeasts or styles.

:cheers:

[quote=“dmtaylo2”]There are a few things going on here:

  1. The uneducated beer drinker is usually turned off by good beer.

  2. Beers often/usually have flaws of some sort,

  3. Humans will feed you white lies to your face to be kind, hiding what they really feel[/quote]

Thanks for saying all that. I’ve been thinking the same things. I am to the point that I may introduce a friend to my home brew, but will wait to see if they seek me out or inquire again before I bring it up again.

As far as taking classes…not yet, for me

[quote=“Legman”]I experience the opposite. I don’t mind sharing my beer, but I actually try not to tell too many that I brew because they become instantly interested and want me to bring them some. And on the occasion that I do pass samples out, I have to basically tell them that this is a one time deal and I won’t continue to supply them with beer. Even then, there are some that hassle me non-stop for more.
That’s annoying.[/quote]
I have had a similar experience. Seems like as soon as someone finds out that I brew they want free beer. Although IME I also have a lot of people wanting to barter with me for some of my homebrew or wine.

[quote=“Baratone Brewer”][quote=“Legman”]I experience the opposite. I don’t mind sharing my beer, but I actually try not to tell too many that I brew because they become instantly interested and want me to bring them some. And on the occasion that I do pass samples out, I have to basically tell them that this is a one time deal and I won’t continue to supply them with beer. Even then, there are some that hassle me non-stop for more.
That’s annoying.[/quote]
I have had a similar experience. Seems like as soon as someone finds out that I brew they want free beer. Although IME I also have a lot of people wanting to barter with me for some of my homebrew or wine.[/quote]

+1 here. Everytime I mention I brew, people get pissed I haven’t brought them a sample!

For me there’s a weird divide. Most folks do want me to share when they first find out. Old college buddies, on the other hand, have no interest. But then, sometimes we still reminisce about that infamous Sierra Nevada clone from when we were juniors, or the even more infamous Undrinkable Applejack*. So we’re all kind of primed to fear each others’ homebrew.

  • Which we still drank.

BMC certainly isn’t advertising that homebrew is better than their stuff, and in some instances, advertising is actively suggesting that homebrew is subpar.

Marketing is huge, pervasive, influential, and (depending on your point of view) successful. Going to take a lot of positive, anecdotal evidence to convince people on a grassroots level, i.e., it’s going to be a while.

I think for a lot of people it’s easier to relate to making your own food. There are entire NETWORKS devoted to nothing but cooking shows. There’s a subconscious undercurrent to a person’s thinking that it’s possible to be a great cook in your average home’s kitchen.

There’s no general exposure like that for home brewing or beer in general. If a person’s seen a show on fine beer/wine/distilled spirits - it’s usually a “special” for one of their cooking shows.

Hell’s Kitchen is on Prime-time network TV, Brewmasters wasn’t.

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