Here is the scenario: You walk into a new brewery tap room. The décor is quirky. The people are friendly. The taster tray holding your samplers is adorned with a cool logo.
Then you take the first sip of the first beer. Your friend, who is across the table, has already grimaced a bit. Not a good sign. You don’t hate it but there is something weird going on. You take another sip. Is it not to style? Or was there a brewing mistake?
You try the rest of the sampler and nothing rings your bell. You grasp for a favorite but can’t find one. Only one that is better than the rest. After some discussion, you and your buddy get up. The server sees that your glasses are suspiciously not empty as you slink out.
This has happened to me and it may have to you as well. Instead of being vague, I will name the brewery. It was Escape Craft Brewery in Redlands. My friend and I tried six beers in their warehouse space that is similar to many tap rooms across the Southland. The Vanilla Sunset Lager tasted like Cream Soda. Way too light and heavy on vanilla. The Destination Brown was light but mostly tasted of tar. The Lazy Day IPA was fine but still had a weird off note tucked into it. The Midnight Express English stout was OK if a touch too sweet. Coming off having some stellar MacLeod ales the day before however, really showed how far they had to go. Beer # 5 was a Red Rye IPA that, again, bordered on too sweet and was missing rye to boot. Finally by the end, a beer that I could finish the taster of, the Road Rage 10% Imperial Red Ale.
This was on the heels of some sticky sweet barrel aged beers at Enegren in Moorpark that didn’t strike me or my palate very well. Being the confrontation averse person that I am, in neither instance did I come out and say that I did not enjoy the beers.
Other people in both tap rooms seemed to be quite happy. So who am I to judge? Wouldn’t that make me the “snob” that the craft beer community so loathes?
Not if you walked with the hope that the beer would be good. Not if you want to leave impressed. Not if you want to tell the world about this brewery you found.
The other key is to try the beers again. I am not saying that you need to go out of your way to try them but don’t go out of your way to not try them either. Maybe the brewers need time to work out kinks like a basketball team needs time to gel as a group.
As the brewing scene in Los Angeles grows, there will be a separation between great, good, OK and not there yet. Take this as an my opening salvo in calling out (constructively, not troll-y) those who fall into that last category.