Believe it or not, in the craft brewing world, accidents happen. It’s admitting those mistakes, mishaps and downright mysteries that’s important.
Many have heard about or seen the popular Sam Adams dunk tank event years ago, where owner Jim Koch was dunked into a vat of his own beer—not feeling the beer was up to Sam Adam’s standards to distribute. He did it all for the love of beer and his dedication to quality.
While many other brewers may not have gone so far as to swim in their “bad” beer, they can certainly relate to dumping a product if it doesn’t meet standards—whether it’s old, unintentionally sour or just doesn’t taste right.
When it comes to craft beer, it’s all about quality. True craft brewers aren’t afraid to dump beer they don’t stand behind and can be proud of. But no one ever said, “there’s no crying in brewing.”
Central Waters Brewing Company and their fans are mourning the loss of one of their beers right now. According to their blog post, “Peruvian: Mourning the loss of a beer,” their long-awaited Peruvian Morning, a barrel-aged imperial coffee stout, was questionable as of late February and they pulled the beer from market immediately.
“We would rather not make it than make a compromised version of something we love, such as pasteurized or sterile filtered barrel aged beer,” said the Central Water’s blog.
Jester King Brewery in Austin, Texas, can definitely relate to this conundrum. In their blog post, “Blueberry FAIL,” they admited their blueberry beer turned out to be highly acetic and had to be dumped. “We consider ourselves an experimental brewery. Part of what this means is we dump beer down the drain from time to time. If we were selling every drop of beer we made, that would mean we’d be selling you our failed experiments, which would not be cool.”
Idle Hands Craft Ales in Everett, Mass., also refuses to sacrifice quality. In the video, Not a Fun Day at the Brewery, they drain 10 bbl batch of their Triplication, a Belgian-style tripel. Why? “Because it wasn’t up to our high standards and we refuse to compromise on quality.”
Brewing beer is far from perfect. It’s about experimenting, making mistakes and learning from them. Sometimes the wrong hops are added to the boil—sometimes that’s the best mistake a brewer could have made. For those other times, there’s no use crying over spilled beer.
Tiffany Lutke (@TiffanyLutke) is the current Craft Beer Program intern at the Brewers Association. She spent her days as a kid in the small craft brewery her father owned on the east coast, which led to her love for small and independent breweries. When she’s not pouring beer at Upslope Brewing Company taproom in Boulder, she’s sharing pints with old friends at her favorite beer bars like The Mayor of Old Town in Fort Collins, Colo.