DEAR EDITOR: I am 28 years old.
Some of my little friends say there is no such thing as bad beer.
Papa says, ‘If you see it in BEER SIMPLE it’s so.’
Please tell me the truth; is there bad beer?
115 WEST NINETY-FIFTH STREET.
VIRGINIA, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the optimism of an optimistic age. They do not believe in bad beer except they see a BA label. They think that nothing can be bad which is local to their little palates. All palates, Virginia, whether they be beer geeks' or normals', are little. In this great universe of ours man is a mere insect, an ant, in his palate, as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of hops and barley.
Yes, VIRGINIA, there is bad beer. It exists as certainly as acid and fusels and oxidation exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its dullest mouthfeel and disappointment. Alas! how unrealistic would be the world in which there was no bad beer. It would be as unlikely as if there were no VIRGINIAS. It would take a childlike faith then, with no criticality, no objectivity to make rational this existence. We should have no credibility, except in ZIP code and neighborhood. The eternal foam with which beer fills the world would be extinguished.
Not believe in bad beer! You might as well believe in fairies! You might get your papa to hire men to watch all the mash tuns on Brew Day to catch bad beer, but even if they did not see the pH coming down, what would that prove? Nobody sees bad beer, but that is no sign that there is no bad beer. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that’s no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.
You may tear apart the draft system and see what makes the bubbles inside, but there is a veil covering the bad beer world which not the strongest Cicerone, nor even the united strength of all the beer judges that ever lived, could tear apart. Only objectivity, palate training, education, social media pressure, polite feedback, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the infernal ugliness and gore beyond. Is it all real? Ah, VIRGINIA, in all this world there is nothing else so real and abiding.
No bad beer! Damn Ninkasi! it lives, and it lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay, ten times ten thousand years from now, it will continue to make sad the heart of adulthood.
The preceding is a parody of an item you might recognize. Its inspiration was in hearing aleholes constantly exclaiming "the best beer is the one in your hand!" and "there's no such thing as bad beer - it's all personal preference!" There are lots of things that can be wrong in a beer that have nothing to do with personal, subjective preference. You might enjoy hot alcohols, rampant goat-crotch funk, ash-tray-like phenols, and more - but that doesn't make what you like a "good" beer. I can burn a steak black and say I like it that way, but it's still a bad steak by the collective agreement of all Christendom.
I don't write this to bring you down - I do it to highlight the joy we should take in the good beers of the world, and that we should appreciate them even when they're not to our taste, like how I appreciate the quality of a lot of Belgian Strong Ales even though I don't like to drink them!
Drink GOOD beer, not just popular, trendy, or local beer.
Keep it simple.