What am I, an Animal?
I spent many years working in the software industry. There was a lot of money at stake and that meant they hired all sorts of business school graduates to run things. One thing that business school teaches you is the use of sayings to get your point across to the unwashed masses. Sayings like, "Put more wood behind fewer arrows." And, "We need to eat our own dog food." Yes, that is the kind of management brilliance taught out there. Of course, as silly as they sometimes seem, those phrases do hold a nugget of truth.
I never really cared for the dog food saying. It seems somewhat nasty and it doesn't make a lot of sense if you don't make a product that your business uses. Essentially, what it means is you should be using your own products or services and by doing so you understand your customer's experience better.
Well, now that my success depends on beer, I've warmed up to that saying. Yes, I taste all the batches of beer we make as most good brewers do. If you own a brewery, that is a good start. However, it isn't comprehensive enough. If you package your beer and sell it outside the brewery, then you really should taste your beer where the consumer tastes it. It is one thing to taste your beer fresh at your brewery, but we all know beer quickly declines from that ideal state once it is packaged.
I do my best to purchase bottles from various stores and pints on draft when I see them available. It isn't a comprehensive or scientific plan by any means, but I do get some sense of what other people are tasting when they order Heretic.
The more I do this, the more I appreciate the fact that I really like our beers. Heck, I even crave our beers when I'm getting thirsty. I think of it this way: If I am not excited about drinking one of our beers, then why should any craft beer lover be excited about it? Sure, my taste isn't exactly the same as everyone else in the world, but I am pretty sure it is similar to a large portion of the craft beer drinking population. I love well-made craft beer. I do have an adventurous pallet, but drinkability is crucial to me. I think that describes the majority of craft beer lovers.
That is one of the reasons it irks me when some business people push for extreme beers that they wouldn't drink themselves. It is too easy to produce "interesting" or "unique" beers, if you don't have to drink them. You can toss in all sorts of wild and weird ingredients that make marketing headlines, but in the end if that beer doesn't taste great to you and to other beer lovers, you've just made a onetime waste of money for the people that buy it. You've hurt the cause of great craft beer; because you've let marketing create a beer that a dog wouldn't drink. Don't let them push you into that trap. For the sake of all craft beer lovers, let's make sure we all enjoy drinking our own dog food.
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