Well, the other night I was visiting a restaurant that features the beer of a prominent local brewery. I've eaten there before and the beers they produce are some of my favorite. Needless to say, I think very highly of them. For the purposes of this post, I'm going to withhold their name. The point I want to make isn't about how Brewery XYZ served a bad beer, rather, that it's okay to speak about it without feeling like you're being picky (or even worse a beer snob)!
Deana actually ordered the beer. She wasn't familiar with it, but I've had a few in years past and I enjoyed one about two weeks ago at another restaurant. In my head, I knew how this beer was meant to taste. As per usual, after sampling my own beer I reached over to taste Deana's as well. The first clue I had that something was off was the smell. Instead of being met with the familiar smell of hops I was semi put off by a buttery smell. It's allergy season so I thought maybe my less than clear nasal passage was screwing with me. I sniffed again but still it was off. Eventually, I went in for a taste. "Eww. This doesn't taste right. It smells like butter and tastes like nasty movie popcorn butter", I told Deana. She didn't like the flavor either and we sat there wondering what to do. As I mentioned before, we aren't prone to return things and I was feeling a little self conscious about returning a beer in an establishment that proudly displays the name of a popular local brewery. The last thing I wanted was to sound like some guy who read a beer article and was anxious to show off my new vocabulary. But, I also didn't want Deana to sit there and suffer through a beer I knew tasted different than they ever intended it to.
So, when the waiter came by I said "I feel like a real ass saying this, but her beer just doesn't taste right. I think there is some diacetyl going on because it tastes and smells buttery." And then I braced for him to mock me, but the mocking never came. He took the beer and replaced it with another. He also must have passed the news on to his manager who went on to try the beer in question. At the end of the night, she came over and thanked me for pointing out that the flavors were off. She told me that they want every beer to taste perfect, especially, since they are bearing the name of a local brewery. She also agreed with me that it tasted off.
The fact that she came over and thanked me for speaking up and agreed that something was wrong came as a great relief. Until then, I was wondering if they were all standing behind the bar pointing at me for throwing around my supposed beer knowledge like a big shot. But instead, their reaction to my complaints and these events taught me an important lesson. Trust your palate and don't be afraid to speak up. Bars that care don't want to serve beer that tastes bad. They know they might only have one night to win a customer over and if they are consistently putting out bad stuff they might lose the opportunity of repeat visits. And more importantly, as craft beer fans we should know that brewers don't want their beer being served under not so favorable conditions. With so much competition out there, they are going to want to put their best foot forward at all times. If you taste something off, do them a favor and let someone know. Don't do what I almost did and let your fear of coming across as a complaining know it all scare you from doing what's right. You want a proper beer as bad as bars and brewers want to serve them.