07 Nov 2011 @ 7:24 PM 

I’m a little late off the mark on this, since the article that I’m responding to was actually written days ago, and really had a fair amount of buzz over the weekend. Still, since through some fluke of internettery or bad programming I’m unable to post my feelings in the comments of article, you get to read my thoughts here.

This is in response to the article posted on Bon Appetit‘s website named (le sigh) Why Beer Growlers are Bad for your Brew

The first thing I’d like to point out is that the URL to the article is actually “Garrett Oliver Thinks Growlers…” and I bet the next work is “Suck”, but that apparently didn’t meet the “sweeping generalization in order to get as many eyes as possible” criteria. Good job. It worked. I wish it wouldn’t have.

It’s raised a bit of ire around beer blogs and on Beer Advocate, and one of the commenters on the article itself poses the interesting question of “Why would anyone ever be so emotionally committed to growlers that it would ever induce such outrage?”

I can’t say it’s outrage, but it definitely makes me feel a bit.. well.. exasperated. Garrett Oliver really did write the book on beer. Well… he edited it, anyway, despite numerous errors, and his opinion carries weight, even when it seems like a quick one-off bullshit answer to some guy who he’s drinking with. Because after you’ve written the book on beer, your slightest opinions get repeated like this:

“Oh, well, Garrett Oliver says [poorly translated version of what Garrett Oliver actually said taken immediately as the holy fucking gospel].”

It’s especially bad when it’s repeated by a magazine like Bon Appetit, even if it is a bullshit one-off name-dropping blog post by some guy who was probably just desperate to meet an editing deadline, because people who trust Bon Appetit (who are likely people who buy good, craft beer) are likely to come away with:

“Oh, well, I read in Bon Appetit that Garrett Oliver says [something incredibly inaccurate which will be taken as an unbreakable law that only a basilisk’s tooth dipped in unicorn tears could possibly destroy].”

So, let’s hear it for journalistic integrity on the internet in 2011!


I can tell you why people would get emotional about it – for some small breweries, growlers can be a life saver. Packaging lines (bottles, cans) are expensive, and growlers can be a great way for new and/or small breweries to get product into locations, like grocery stores, or maybe even people’s homes, in a way that kegs just can’t do on a large scale basis. It’s not emotional, it’s defensive.

At Mystery, we’re counting on growler sales to help us through our startup, and I’m hoping that they constitute a large portion of our sales. That said, we’re planning using a counter-pressure growler filler to make sure that they’re packaged correctly instead of urinating directly into each one, as Garrett Oliver would have Andrew Knowlton have you believe. And I would never, EVER fill a dirty growler. Dirty growlers should be traded out for clean ones. I have the tools to clean growlers in ways that most people do not in their homes, and ultimately, I am represented best by giving you excellent beer.

But to address a big issue in the article of “the pros hate growlers”. Ugh. Are growlers ideal ways to package beer? No. But I don’t hate them.

Here’s what I hate: I hate it when bottle shops have beer sitting warm on shelves. I hate it when they have beer sitting near fluorescent lights. I hate it when they don’t pull beer off of the shelves after 90 days. I hate it when bars don’t clean their tap lines, or when they serve beer in frosted mugs, or shove a faucet into a beer while it’s being poured, or don’t give me a new glass when I order a new beer. I hate it when bars don’t have dishwashers that get hot enough to clean lipstick off of glassware, or wash their glassware in the same dishwasher as their food dishes.

All of those things can have a detrimental effect on the flavor and presentation of a beer and all of those are way, way, WAY more common than someone filling a dirty growler or filling one so incorrectly that the consumer will notice a difference, assuming they consume it while it’s still fresh.

But I can’t control those other things. I can, as a brewer, control the quality of the growlers that leave my establishment. I can make sure they’re clean and they’re filled properly – just like any packaging brewer would do for ANY packaged beer product.

I’d like to see an actual well-researched, well-considered followup article by Bon Appetit about this, but I’m sure it just won’t happen.

This piece of pseudo-journalism will go on misinforming in droves. It might seem silly, but these little one-off things coming from a source that people trust can be very damaging to small businesses. It’s already being repeated, and all it takes is one more journalist who doesn’t know how to research (which I’m starting to believe is most of them) to make this opinion law by referencing it in some wider reaching periodical.

Come on Bon Appetit, do what’s right and fix your crappy journalism by actually doing some work on the story. I’m issuing you a challenge. Write a good story on beer packaging. Your readership deserves it.

 13 Jul 2010 @ 9:35 AM 

Here, I become yet another irate blogger venting his disbelief and anger about the mind-boggling idea behind Drink This, Not That.

If you’re not familiar with it and are too lazy to click the link (fine by me), let me sum it up for you:

Americans get 25% or more of their daily calories intake from their beverages, this book is a guide that allows you to still drink everything that you want, but do it in a “more healthy” way. In this case, more healthy means – strictly – lower calorie, lower carbs. Why people around the craft beer industry are getting irritated with it are because of things like you see on the right here.

Indeed. Sierra Nevada Bigfoot certainly is the carbohydrate equivalent of 12 Mich Ultras. You can’t argue with it. But it’s a non-sequitur argument. These are not comparable products. Oh, yeah, sure.. sure. They’re both beer, but in the same way that Bartles and Jaymes “Fuzzy Navel” and Dom Pérignon are both sparkling wine.

I guess what really bothers me is the focus of these books is not about making more healthy choices, it’s about making the same shitty choices you’ve been making, but with less destructive products. It’s not, “Don’t eat that giant basket of french fries, eat this salad!”, it’s “Don’t eat that giant basket of french fries, eat this giant basket of french fries!”

Look fatass, here’s your problem: back away from the french fries.

Quick secret, and I’m not trying to brag or anything, but last year I lost 40 lbs, and I would never… and I mean never dream about replacing my awesome craft beer with Mich Ultra. You know what I did? I ate less and got off of my fat ass and exercised.

This theory that Americans somehow can’t control their own consumption is insulting. As if they’re somehow saying, “When sitting down to consume an entire extra large pizza in one sitting, remember to buy the one with low fat pepperoni.”

You know what 12 Mich Ultras instead of 1 Sierra Nevada Bigfoot is? It’s binge drinking. It’s over-consumption. It’s the misguided notion that, somehow, more of something cheap and crappy is better than less of something of high quality. It’s exactly the misguided notion that gets us eating over-sized Whoppers and liter fountain drinks instead of taking the time to actually eat something that tastes good and is better for you.

But for $3.00, I can’t get a hamburger that big anywhere!

Right – and maybe you shouldn’t. You’ll buy a lot fewer pairs of fat-legged sweatpants that way, Captain Wheezy. Do a cost analysis on your trips to Wal-Mart, McDonalds, and triple-bypass surgery and see where you come out in the end.

So, here’s my take.

Drink This: One high-quality great-tasting beer that you will greatly enjoy.
Not That: Twelve flavorless pints of empty calories.

If anything, you’ll spend a lot less time peeing.

Tags Tags: ,
Categories: appreciation, industry, media, op-ed
Posted By: erik
Last Edit: 13 Jul 2010 @ 09 35 AM

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