Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Bottling It Up


I don't buy expensive bottles of beer by and large. It's a risky investment, even from those you think might know what they are doing.* Most small brewer's bottling operations are wing and a prayer stuff, so you might be lucky and get the beer exactly as the brewer intended and then again, hopefully on far, far fewer occasions, you might not. If you buy a beer from a supermarket, you could take it back and argue the toss. They'll likely exchange it anyway, as it isn't in their interests to piss you off over a bottle of beer, when you might be next spending £100 on your shopping.  If you buy it elsewhere, then you may be on far more uncertain ground.

Now when it comes to buying it from t'internet,  I'm guessing if a beer is bad and lots complain, you'll get a replacement, but often expensive beers are bought from sources that aren't exactly easy to take it back to, such as shops in strange towns, brewery shops, over the counter in a brewpub or brewery tap, beer festival and so on.  Anyway,  there is always the old "It's meant to taste that way, you wooden palated dolt" excuse to fall back on, which can be a difficult one to argue, when it might be something matured in old feta cheese drums or whatever.  Shaky ground indeed.

Why do I bring this up?  When I was away I read a thread on Twitter, where several people complained severely about the undrinkability of a beer that had set them back £10.99.  In fact more than one beer from the brewery was complained about.  I won't name the brewery as it is the general point I'm addressing and apart from the fact I wasn't affected, for all I know, those complaining may have taste buds with the sophistication of the average meths drinker.  Either way though, it is a bit of a bummer to pay so much for a drain pour.

I really don't know the answer, but those that produce expensive beers have a duty, no matter how "challenging" it may taste, to convince assure the buyer of a beer, that it is indeed "meant to be like that".  Hiding behind cutting edge and experimental isn't good enough. Especially at top dollar.

Maybe this is a what might be termed an "occupational hazard" for the adventurous drinker and can be shrugged off as such?

*Belgians excepted. By and large they know how to do it.

20 comments:

Meer For Beer said...

I brought beers and had to tip them, some expensive and some not.

Mainly in my case if there isn't an idea of what should be in the bottle then I'm less likely to buy as it has been these which have been the problem.

Steve Lamond said...

I loved the beer in question when I had it, but it could have changed with age or be variable bottle to bottle...

Tandleman said...

Steve: Indeed. But what about the more general point?

RedNev said...

Compared to draught real ale, bottled beers are, I find, always a disappointment. Even the RAIBs are too fizzy, and I can rarely relate the flavour of bottled beers to their draught equivalents. So the only time I buy them is when I have beer drinking visitors.

Anonymous said...

breweries spend a lot of time and effort getting their bottled beer right(well i bloody do) and nevs right a lot of them are fizzier than the cask(the beer wouldnt last two minutes without the carbonation) the main problem ive found is a lot of shops keep them improperly, r.a.i.b. is no different to cask,in regard to the fact its a live product, and you wouldnt want a cask sitting on a spotlit shelf next to the heater would you?....

critch liverpool organic

Tandleman said...

I wonder if you've created something exotic,in expensive wire bottles and maybe it isn't what you thought it'd be, that you give it the benefit of the doubt and sell the bugger anyway?

That.

Bailey said...

We had the 'it's meant to taste that way' in response to some feedback given on a sample. If so, the beer in question is going to, ahem, an acquired taste for a very, ahem again, select audience. It also needs a warning on the label.

Phil said...

I opened my 2009 Marble Decadence Kriek the other day and rapidly discovered why it was in a champagne bottle. Once I'd let it pour itself out for five minutes and let the suds die down, it was a really nice beer. Very lively, though. I recorked the bottle with a plastic stopper while I worked my way through it; it blew out three times.

I think one reason you pay a lot for some beers is that you can get a lot of beer in a champagne bottle - and one reason why beers are sold in champagne bottles is that an ordinary half- or third-litre bottle would be liable to explode.

Alan said...

But most highly and over priced beers *are* experiments where the consumer is being asked to take far too much of the financial risk compared to the brewer. If you get into that game, you need to be aware of what you are playing at. I always expect higher risk of a poor experience from a higher priced beer.

Tandleman said...

Spot on Alan. But should the consumer pay for the brewer to experiment? Does it come under 2buyer beware" or just as I said "occupational hazard"?

Leigh said...

A man after my own heart. Maybe it's the Yorkshireman in me, but I'm tight and have been burned too much in the past. For me, packaging something in a larger bottle should be meant to be shared, and therefore handled with care. But I do find that those larger bottled-beers do seem to have a much higher rate of disappointment.
Hey - at least people are calling it out, rather than hiding behind the brewery involved and claiming to like it (when they don't)

Alan said...

I think it is too new to be an occupational hazard. I see this as an intentional way to have someone else pay for training on the new equipment and also to train nerds to pay higher amounts. I actually smell a rat about this trend.

Tandleman said...

Alan: Maybe that's so. I assumed cock up rather than conspiracy. I've been wrong before.

Leigh: I am sure some are claiming to like it when they don't. Nobody want to appear daft in this nil sum game.

Cooking Lager said...

Anyone that pays £10.99 for a bottle of beer has "mug" stamped on their forehead and gets what they deserve.

ABrewHaHa said...

I can't accept Steve's 'variable from bottle to bottle', that just smacks of a shitty approach to bottling. Every bottle in a single batch should be identical, there is no excuse other than poor hygiene for variation. And if a Brewery can't be arsed to ensure that 'rogue' bottles don't get out to the market, they're going to find their market contarcting.

ABrewHaHa said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
beerblog@gmail.com said...

You know me. Can't pass up a good conspiracy. I blame the centuries of genetic links to the Clyde river valley! ;-)

Zak Avery said...

What was the beer/brewery? Email me if you don't want to post here, please and thank you.

Tandleman said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tandleman said...

As I said Zak it isn't my place to name. I was making a more general point, but I'm sure that you can easily find out, as I did from Twitter. Will DM you with where I saw it, then over to you.