Consumers know bad beer, expert warns

Neil Witte

Brewers need to keep pace with a consumer base that is rapidly becoming more educated about common beer faults, warns US Brewers Association quality ambassador Neil Witte.

In an interview with Radio Brews News, Witte reiterated his earlier point that it is now ever more pressing for brewers to be monitoring the quality of their beer in the field.

“It’s just a different world than it was when I got into this business 20 years ago,” said Witte, founder of consultancy Craft Quality Solutions.

“I hear a lot more people who are working in the trade; bartenders, servers, and even consumers talking about things like oxidation, diacetyl… some of the very common off flavours that can pop up with beer.

“These are becoming more widely used terms. People are learning to recognise these things, even just people who are enthusiasts about beer are educating themselves about freshness.

“As that happens it’s more critical for brewers stay on top of things because consumers are going to recognise if something is wrong with the beer,” Witte said.

He said that while some consumers may even be able to pinpoint the origin of the fault, there are more that will just realise that “something is not quite right”, responsibility for which may actually lie with the venue.

“It might not be the brewer’s fault at all that their beer doesn’t taste right, but the consumer’s going to blame that on the brewer,” he said.

“It’s incumbent on the brewer to engage with retail and engage with the distributors and everyone involved in the maintenance of draught systems… to make sure that everything is being done correctly.”

Educated salespeople
Witte said brewers should be equipping their sales teams with the skills to monitor field quality.

“They need to be doing things like checking date codes and looking at draught systems and sampling their beer on draught and making sure that the beer is up to the standards they want,” he said.

“The sales team needs to be educated on what types of things can happen… [so that] if they taste a beer that doesn’t taste right, they will be more likely to be able to figure out where that off flavour came from,” he said.

“Was it something brewery produced or was it something produced at retail?”

Beer is a Conversation featuring Neil Witte is available to download here.

Read more:
Brewers neglecting field quality: Expert

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