The Beginner Brewer: Open Letter to All South African Beer Bloggers and Reviewers

Wednesday, 16 December 2015

Open Letter to All South African Beer Bloggers and Reviewers

I love beer. Always have. From the first taste of my Dad’s Black Label to having a Trappist Triple, beer has woven its seduction into my bones and into my heart. It made me want to brew my own beer more than ten years ago. It made me start this blog. It made me start Hate City Brewing Company.

When the Craft beer revolution hit SA shores, I was right there, cheering along with all of you. I thought, “Yes! Now is the time for good beer!” It was a special time. Once, a beer enthusiast considered finding a Portuguese lager in their local liquor store a very special thing. Now we’re spoiled for choice.

Enough with the nostalgia. 

I’m worried about the future of South African craft beer. And here’s why. 

There’s still too many flawed beers out there on the shelves of restaurants, pubs, and liquor stores. Too much DMS, too many band-aid beers. It’s not okay. It’s not “craft” if a beer is cloudy, tastes like old nappies, and smells like a sewer grate. That’s crap beer, folks.

I fully realize and own the irony and scary tension of me, a craft brewer, saying such things.

Craft brewers shouldn’t review fellow craft brewers. But I think I have earned the right to review beer reviewers. You, dear critics of craft, have the power to make this beautiful craft revolution of ours keep on revolting against the faceless, bland, corporate swill produced by the macros of this world.

Make no mistake. It’s super-horrible to receive a bad review about your beer. I know. But that’s the only way to improve. Craftspeople do ultimately appreciate the interest, even if it’s negative. That’s the way of progress.

But you have a lot of power, dear reviewers.

The average craft consumer will listen to you. They will take you seriously. This is what the craft movement needs. It’s painful, yes. But necessary. Craft is about quality. It’s about prioritizing taste and artisan craft above all else. 

So here’s the rub: If you follow an “Everybody get’s a prize” philosophy, if you refuse to post bad reviews, if you don’t educate yourselves in what an off-flavor is and tastes like, well, you’re doing a tremendous disservice to the craft beer movement in this country.

You really are.

The reason is very simple. 

Once someone tries a craft beer, and pays far more for it than the average macro, and that beer doesn’t taste great, they are very likely to turn away from craft. They are likely to conclude that this is just another hipster trend, another ploy by marketing folk to divest them of their hard-earned cash.

And if enough people think like that, the craft movement will die. I really think it will.

So please save us from ourselves. Post bad reviews. Name and shame (even if that name is my own and that shame is mine to bear).

You will be doing the right thing.

Thank you.


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