I have often recently been asked my opinion as to what makes a decent brewery or brewpub. I have yet to give a good answer. The reason that I am indecipherably incoherent (other than that the question more oft than not comes after we have had a few beers) is that it is in my opinion, the definition of quality in brewing establishments is both subjective and has so much more to do than a brewery’s beer quality. In fact, my opinion of good beer is also so subjective to the point that what is deemed world class quality I may think of as only average. Beer is in the eye of the beholder, and a good beer joint is too.
My opinions on beer quality have been bothering me as of late. All you have to do is read back on this blog to understand how I roll. I have been thinking that I am at the very least a pariah of current craft brewing trends, but more likely the village idiot or the guy with dementia holding the sign that reads “The End is Near!” I have convinced myself that I know very little, and should I open a brewery based on my view of good beer, I would fail miserably. And then I ran into a streak of people that without any prodding or influence from me, expressed similar opinions and tastes. Admittedly, all of the “people” were middle-aged, middle-class, educated white-guys (just like I think I am). I find that all of a sudden, I am not feeling like some skeptical, tea-party sympathizing, lunatic fringe outcast (of the beer world), but rather a delusional self-appointed mouthpiece populist of the Everyman Beer Snob middle ground; a different shade of crazy, to be sure.
So, I once again have started thinking that I will try to boil down (brewing pun intended) what I think makes a brewing establishment special. I think that what I will do is try to establish a number of different dimensions of the establishments I have visited and what makes them special to me. I will try to make this a multi-posting project (as otherwise this would be an extremely long post).
One thing that I am finding is that my memory is failing me. I used to travel throughout the Western United States fairly often. When I would, I would visit two or three brewing establishments in the course of each 1-2 day trip. I have visited so many breweries and brewpubs, that I can’t even remember them all, let alone what I liked or didn’t. So, I invite you to help me in this endeavor and try to make this more of an interactive exercise. Please feel free to respond with your favorite brewpubs and breweries, and why it is you like them. I can only use this information to semi-publically mock you. But really, I am trying to put my finger on what people with money to spend on beer like, and maybe, just maybe, someday I will go for it.