Friday, August 28, 2015

Should Taste Test be taken to task?

Logos the property of D Magazine and Lakewood Brewing Company, respectively.

Over the last few days, one of the hot topics on social media has been the latest installment of something called "Taste Test Thursday", a weekly review-like column put out by D Magazine. It focuses on various foods and beverages found locally and, naturally, every so often they round up a number of beers and give them the once over. In the past, subjects covered have included Dallas IPAs, holiday beers, pumpkin beers and what some might consider to be off-the-wall offerings.

This week the topic was session IPAs, and low and behold Lakewood Brewing Company took them to task for something that was said. Certain there must have been some sort of misunderstanding, I decided to peruse some past articles to try and understand their process. And, I'll tell you, for the life of me I can't understand why everyone is so upset. To begin with, they go out of their way to publish the opinions of fair and impartial jurors.

"I don't like IPAs..." and "...I don't drink IPAs." (from "TTT: Dallas Beer - IPA Edition")

"I don't customarily drink your so-called session beers..." (from "TTT: Dallas Session IPAs")

"First, before I begin, let me say that I hate spiced beer and fruit-flavored
beer and gourd-infused beer." (from "TTT: Pumpkin Beer")

Not only that, they obviously take great care to ensure that they sample the products in the proper order while pausing to cleanse their palates after each beer.

"Taste buds are a little shot from the last one." (from "TTT: Weird Beers")

"I don't taste any pumpkin in this one. Perhaps that's because
my palate is already fried." (from "TTT: Pumpkin Beer")

Oh, and they always use appropriate glassware.

"Not much of a nose, or maybe it's overpowered by this cup's paper smell." (from "TTT: Weird Beers")

Furthermore, those selected for the panels are all highly-qualified experts, each well-versed in the finer points of the styles they've been chosen to judge.

"I expect my IPAs to be a little bit cloudy." (from "TTT: Dallas Session IPAs")

"This one has a very aggressive citrus taste, one that's not usually
associated with IPAs." (from "TTT: Dallas Session IPAs")

Comments such as these being a clear indication that the BJCP needs to do a comprehensive update of the American IPA style guidelines. I mean, the excerpts that follow must surely be incorrect.

Appearance: "Should be clear, although unfiltered dry-hopped versions may be a bit hazy."

Flavor: "Hop flavor is medium to very high, and should reflect an American or New World
hop character, such as citrus, floral, pine, resinous, spicy, tropical fruit, stone fruit, berry, melon, etc."

As for brewers, I can't imagine that they don't appreciate the criticism offered, since it's constructive and written in complete, coherent sentences.

"This does nothing for more." (from "TTT: Weird Beers")

"Yeasty overpowers pump sweetness." (from "TTT: Pumpkin Beer")

Plus, they can gain valuable insight into the impact of any specialty ingredients used in the creation of a recipe from tasting notes that are often powerfully evocative.

"...its malty backbone is tapping on my wine cellars." (from "TTT: Holiday Beer")

"Smells like...the age of a mildew whisper." (from "TTT: Holiday Beer")

"Nut skin nose." (from "TTT: Weird Beers")

Indeed, given all of that, it's quite apparent that the opinions of D Magazine staffers are ones to be valued when it comes to the objective, informed and unbiased evaluation of craft beer. I, for one, plan to tune in each and every week to further my own beer-drinking education. Ten years of BJCP certification be damned! In the meantime, though, one pearl of wisdom from above has inspired me to go out and scour the shelves in search of a bottle of Undead Party Crasher from Clown Shoes. Why, you ask? Because nothing says nom nom nom like a nut skin nose.


1 comment:

  1. I have read a few of D's Taste Test Thursday reports and have come to the conclusion that everyone who works at D is stupid.