Rant about craft beer…Drink Local and Bar Bottle Ettiquette

Posted: March 23, 2013 in Rambing on about nothing in particular
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This is merely me bitching about several thing about craft beer that have been recent discussions and events that have happened to me in the past few weeks (so if you are not interested in reading about me bitch, then it is time to change the channel or something like that….Ill wait)

DRINK LOCAL!
One of the few things that I actually like about my job when travelling is being able to try out new beer bars, microbreweries, and brewpubs.  Trust me, with some of the crap I have to deal with on a daily basis, it will drive anyone to drink.  When travelling, I always hear or see the montra of ‘Drink Local’.  I am a big supporter of this concept because I feel it is important to encourage local brewers to keep going to push the craft beer envelope per se.  (This is the time where I say…I DONT WANT TO OFFEND YOU BUT…this is where someone is about to be offended).  My problem is when the ‘drink local’ flavors are just bad.

Drink Local: Buffalo NY
As a native of the Buffalo NY area, I have been downtrodden on the fact that local craft beer has just been bad.  When Flying Bison and Pearl Street Brewing were the only places to get a homegrown craft beer, it puts a real burden on my liver to Drink Local, especially when the local beers are just mediocre at best.  A new local brewing company opened up about 4 months ago, Woodcock Brothers Brewing, and opened up with a wimper.  Their opening weekend was packed with locals, wine trail followers, and a few beer enthusiasts.  The Amber was extremely mild and boring, The IPA was a disaster with almost no hop presence at all, but the Porter was average.  I figured that maybe it was just Opening Day Jitters and gave them a pass.  I ended up going back there one month later, with another of my Beer Advocate tasting group friends, and was underwhelmed even further.  The Amber was still bad…the IPA was gone and replaced by a Pale Ale that was also bad and their was a definite change to the Porter and not for the better either.

Drink Local: Buffalo NY Silver Lining…
Thankfully the craft beer scene in the area is starting to get to the infancy of expansion.  It started with the emergence of Community Beer Works almost a year ago.

While Community Beer Works opened up with only two selections, both were decent and worthy of my hard earned craft beer dollars.  Since then, they have branched out with several different IPAs and a few collaborations approaching their one year anniversary.  My only knock on them is that their releases have been somewhat narrow minded and not adventurous at all.  Part of the issue with that is their limited brewing capacity and inability to keep up with demand.  I guess it is a good problem for them to have and they recently have finished a minor barrel expansion.  While I will grab a pint of their beers from time to time, it will be limited until they release something outside of their comfort zone that makes me say ‘I need that beer’.

Within the next 6-18 months, the area is also expecting the emergence of more local breweries with Big Ditch Brewing, New Buffalo Brewing, Hamburg Brewing and Gene McCarthys brewing expansion.  To these new breweries, my only bit of advice would be to brew outside of the box.  If you want to stand out from the others, make a beer that a) no one else is making   and b) please dont let it suck.   Using cheap products or going soft on the amount of ingredients is not going to set you apart from the other dogs out there, it will just make you get scooped up by someone like F.X. Matt or close your doors.

Drink Local: Albany NY
I have been travelling a lot to the Albany NY area for work frequently over the past 5 years and unfortunately have experienced more of the same there too.  The only Local options were Browns Brewing Company (which is mediocre at best) and Albany Pump Station which was okay.  When I say that they were okay, they offered several beer selections that were borderline decent but their head brewer left about one year ago and the quality of the beers started to spiral downwards.  I have expanded further outside of the Albany area only to find other ‘gems’ like Davidson Brewing, Olde Saratoga, and Mendacino which are pretty bad.  As I had mentioned earlier that the head brewer from Albany Pump Station had left…well, he opened up his own place in Saratoga called Druthers Brewing Company.  I personally have not had the pleasure of stopping in their but my buddy Fuj had and raved about the over priced $7 pints of mediocre beers they were pumping out there.

Drink Local: Albany NY Silver Lining…
While I am not an Albany native and totally in tune with the upcoming brewers in the area, it does not mean that there are any exciting new breweries opening up anytime soon or else I might have heard about it.  Thankfully, if you travel a little farther outside of the city, you can find a couple of decent brewpubs in Chatham Brewing, Crossroads Brewing and Adirondack Brewing.  I have visited all three of these places over the past year and while they aren’t redefining craft beer, they are at least brewing their beers with some quality ingredients and care.  I just hope for that area that something emerges in the near future, so I don’t have to drive 30+ miles outside of the city to get a decent beer.

BAR AND BOTTLE ETIQUETTE
Earlier this week, my buddy Fuj and I brought a few bottles to The Bier Abbey in Schenectady NY to share with the owner.  Now it has been my previous experience that when you bring a bottle into a good craft beer bar, they will typically open it for you without issue, as long as you break a glass off for the bartender too.   I have zero issues with this as it just seems good craft beer etiquette…but this story has a different twist.

While at the Bier Abbey, there were 4 of us sitting their sharing bottle and eating dinner.  When we were ready for the next bottle to be cracked open, the bartender would come over, grab our used glasses, bring out new glasses, then would pour out even servings to us and some for himself (or so we thought). Now I do not know who noticed this at first, but we started to notice that a bar patron was reviewing the exact same beers as we were on Untappd.  Now we had caught onto this after the third of fourth bottle and showed the owner…needless to say, he seemed a little upset by it (or even embarassed) that this was happening and was not going to let it happen anymore.  On our last bottle of the evening, the owner himself grabbed us clean glasses and equal pours were placed inside of the 4 glasses. About three minutes later, the bartender came by, snatched up the empty bottle and shortly there after, another tick from this complete stranger appeared once again…we were dumbfounded. A few more minutes passed by when the mystery ticker came over the table to say Hi to the owner. Not only did he not thank anyone for pulling samples out of our bottles but then even went on to laugh about not paying a dime that evening for beer. Needless to say, if you are taking pulls out of a complete strangers bottle, you better

A) Share a bottle
B) Buy a round in return
C) At least say fucking Thank You

Enough said.

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