Opinion: brew for value not variety

By Ronald Mengerink, owner/brewer, De Dochter van de Korenaar, Baarle-Hertog, Belgium

Throwing a bat in the hen house…This will be a long post. I hope as many as possible will read it.

I’ve been around on the beer scene for quite some time now. First in 1984/85 as one of the first microbreweries in The Netherlands and much later, in 2007, when I started brewery De Dochter van de Korenaar as one of the first new style breweries in Belgium.

I’ve known failure and success, so I think I’m entitled to say what I’m about to say. Many of you think the beer market is healthy as never before; all these brands, all this choice…I DISAGREE. The way the beer market is developing right now is a dead end!

The number of breweries, so called breweries and beer firms is outrageous and can only lead to a collapse of the market. Now I don’t deny anybody’s right to become a brewer or to start a brewery, but I do believe the beer market is compromised by opportunists and fools who will eventually destroy what authentic breweries have constructed in the last few decades.

The madness of crowds

What has gone wrong?

Apparently a bunch of self-proclaimed “beer professors”and beer lovers thought at a certain point it might be a good idea to try and taste as many beers as possible. Never the same beer, always new and, if possible, as weird as can be. They even made a sort of contest out of it: Who has tasted the most beers?

Not only do they taste them, they also value a beer. It happens they value a beer of which they are certain they won’t like it, that is because they don’t like a sour taste, a smokey flavour or any other flavour they are not used to, thus bringing down the ‘score’ of that beer.

Ignorant consumers and/or importers are influenced by these ‘scores’ and might avoid these beers that could be potentially good in their own style. But much more important: this demand in diversity causes a reaction.

Pubs buy only one or two kegs/cases of a certain beer. “Another day is another beer”. There are even brewers that don’t brew the same beer twice. Do you really think that a brewer can brew spot-on every new brew he makes?

It takes time to fine tune a beer, hence you need to brew it more often. In this way it might well be that out of every three new beers you taste there’s only one good enough.

Who cares? “It’s new and it sells.”

Brew your own not for others

And then, as a reaction to this demand for diversity there are the beer firms. Beer firms can ‘create’ as many beers as they like. They don’t have to brew it, or bottle, clean, pack. They don’t have big investments to make. They can concentrate on sales, and sales only.

In fact they take away a part of the breweries’ profits, and by adding their own profit they make a beer more expensive than it needs to be.

For me a brewery is a place where beer is brewed and bottled/kegged. If those true breweries stop pissing in their own bathtub by selling to beer firms, consumers will drink these true beers. Then there is no need to worry about diversity; brewers are creative enough.

I’ve always refused to brew for third parties (the only time I did such a thing was for a colleague and good friend whose brewery burnt down) and I will continue to do so, even if it will cause my own bankruptcy.

I can only plea and ask other brewers to do the same. Stop the pollution of the beer market and make your own beers flourish, instead of the marketed product of some shrewd businessmen.

Reprinted by permission from https://www.facebook.com/ronald.mengerink.9

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