Tuesday, October 04, 2005

eating crow

After I attended the Indy Beer Fest this past summer, I wrote up an article for Indianabeer.com which you can read here. I said a somewhat negative thing about Brugge Brasserie's "Trippel de Ripple". Brugge is that newish Belgian brewpub in Broad Ripple in Indy. Here is what I said in the article: "I wasn't terribly impressed with the Tripel, to be honest. I thought the fermentation character was quite harsh. I really prefer a much smoother Tripel."

Well, after that article was posted, Ted Miller, the brewmaster and co-founder of Brugge has some choice words for me. Here is an excerpt from the email he sent me:
"What are your credentials? Your comments are going to look pretty silly when that Tripel comes home from Denver draped in hardware. Or not. But I'll gladly take critisism from grand masters and if they find it phenolic I'll take back everything I said."

After I responded to him with a very reasonable response, he sent me this back (he's an awesome speller): "I don't care if you like the beer at all. I don't think it is in the best interest of journalism to let your opinions alter my customers perception of an otherwise fine beer. If there was somthing really wrong with it, I would gladly accept your critisism, but it just ain't so. Post those comments on another site with a bunch of underqualified beer raters, not Indiana Beer that can be construed as an authority."

As you can see, Ted is not my biggest fan.

Well, the ironic thing is, Ted's Trippel just came back from Denver, indeed, "draped in hardware". The Great American Beer Festival (GABF) is held in Denver every year. It is probably considered to be the most influential beer competition in the United States. It suffers from the same problems that all other comps do: namely, they only judge "to style", so if something isn't to style, even if it is fucking awesome, then it won't do very well (hence Stone's poor performance over the years) and secondly, you can only win if you enter and it costs money to enter. But anyway, winning a GABF medal is a pretty big deal.

And Brugge's Trippel won a Silver medal.

So this morning I received this image in the mail from Ted at Brugge:

Eat crow (from Answers.com): "Also, eat dirt or humble pie. Be forced to admit a humiliating mistake, as in When the reporter got the facts all wrong, his editor made him eat crow. The first term's origin has been lost, although a story relates that it involved a War of 1812 encounter in which a British officer made an American soldier eat part of a crow he had shot in British territory. Whether or not it is true, the fact remains that crow meat tastes terrible. The two variants originated in Britain. Dirt obviously tastes bad. And humble pie alludes to a pie made from umbles, a deer's undesirable innards (heart, liver, entrails). [Early 1800s] Also see eat one's words."

Well, this is funny and all, but I stand by my assessment of the beer I tried at the Indy fest. I imagine it was a different batch than the samples sent GABF. The samples sent GABF were also, I hypothesize, aged longer. They were also definately in bottles, which can make a difference. I would certainly love to try that bottled, well aged version.

Also, I feel that I certainly don't like every beer that the GABF judges like and vice versa. While the comps try to maintain some level of objectivity by judging "to style", I certainly think there is some room for personal tastes and unique palates to influence the outcome.


Ryan said...

Jeezus, that is hilarious. You must have really got under his skin if he has held a grudge this long.

Mac said...

Ouch, you really pissed that guy off.
Well done Dunn, I'd eat our crow anyday, well, if it wasn't an English crow that is. I hate those limey birds.

Anonymous said...

He really did get under the skin Ryan. What can I say? I've worked my ass off for 15 years....my entire career.... so that I could open a really cool place with exceptional beer and food. I've put everything my heart can muster into my beer and I think for the most part I've succeeded in brewing outstanding beers. I really should just stay off the internet, but I care and I want to know that I am pleasing people with my wares. And when someone is clearly not pleased, I go nuts. I get angry, I get offended, I get crazy man. CRAZY, I SAY!!! I'm cool with it if they didn't like the place because "they don't have a hamburger" (I read this somewhere). Everybody has an opinion and I repect that. I'm going to leave this all alone and get back to the brewing of beer. Even beers with fermentation characters that are all wrong.

Anonymous said...

Well, being a frequent visitor to the Brugge, and BRBP, a home brewer, and having a fairly conditioned palate (home coffee roaster, wine taster, etc) I have to say that the Brugge's Trippel is one of my personal favourites. I did not find it to be overly phenolic or harsh, but complex, fruity, with the alcohol (weighing in at ~11% abv) well integrated into a clove/mixed spice background. When it was young, I did detect some phenolics, but this is a characteristic of Belgians, not a flaw. The Trippel that was taken to the GABF was indeed identical to the one served at the BeerFest, except for being aged longer. This beer definitely does benefit from aging, as many Belgians/high gravity beers do. Congrats to Ted winning silver in the GABF on his first try...it is a noteworthy accomplishment!

I'm in no way affiliated with the Brugge, but am just a happy repeat customer. I'm also not afraid to say when I think a beer is "off"...a batch of ESB that I had at the BRBP was quite thin and unbalanced a few months ago. It was followed up by one of the best batches of ESB I have ever had there.

You should try the Biere de Garde at the Brugge that is on now (10/24)...quite malty, smooth and interesting.


Matthew D Dunn said...

Reading back over this now, some 8 months(?) later, I'm kind of embarrased that I didn't completely tell the truth here. The article, before Mr. Miller wrote to me bitching about the piece, also had something like this: the fermentation character was harsh, "fusels, phenolics, higher alcohols? Whatever it was, it was harsh." Mr. Miller's first letter complained that a beer festival isn't a great place to be seriously tasting beers. So I took that to heart and took out the more specific part of the review and just said I didn't like it. It was harsh.