In response to a blog post by Modern Times, I (Travis) made my first and maybe only tweet.

You can see Modern Times blog post here: http://www.moderntimesbeer.com/2013/01/15/what-will-make-modern-times-different-pt-3/.

The Twitter thread went like this:

BeerPulse @beerpulse
Modern Times Beer founder calls out use of ‘finest all-natural ingredients’ in beer marketing http://beerpulse.com/2013/01/modern-times-beer-founder-calls-out-use-of-finest-all-natural-ingredients-in-beer-marketing/ …#CAbeer @ModernTimesBeer

Societe Brewing Co @SocieteBrewing
@beerpulse @ModernTimesBeer From someone who actually makes beer “by hand,” he is wrong. #travissfirsttweet#beermadebyrealpeople

BeerPulse @beerpulse
@SocieteBrewing wrong about what specifically? he breaks down each word @ModernTimesBeer

Becuase I can’t comment on the question using twitter I decided to write the response below in which I “[break] down each word.”

Modern Times writes:
“No one makes beer “by hand.” At a production brewery, hands might be used to open and close valves or turn on and off a pump, but under no circumstances are they better than the automated version. In fact, manual process controls lead to more mistakes, which leads to less consistent beer. And I have yet to hear anyone comment on a beer’s rough-hewn, handmade quality because it tasted different than the last batch.”

It is easy to see why someone who does not/has not make beer on a professional level would think that all a brewer does is turn valves and flip switches. But a good brewer, like a good chef, is going to be making adjustments based on observation; something automation cannot do. It is not a matter of just opening a valve and turning on a pump. It is a matter of when and how much to open a valve, and when and at what speed to turn on a pump. You can set your automation to do these things to be the same every time, but the beer, like any natural product, will be different and will require special handling with variances in the raw ingredients, processes, and even the weather; things that are outside of the control of robots. Do you think top chefs should be replaced by automated machines? This has been done. Machines make great and consistent microwave pizzas, but do you think a machine can make a $50 plate of food as well as an experienced chef with his hands? It may take robots to make the most consistent beer possible, but it takes skill and experience to make the best beer possible.

Modern Times writes:
“What is gained by using “finest”? Nothing is gained. It cannot possibly make a positive impression on a single shopper. And the absence of “finest” does not lead one to assume that a product is made with shit ingredients. There are no grades of brewing ingredients, there are only the personal preferences of the brewer.”

The problem here is the assumption that using the “finest” is based on marketing. Using the “finest” isn’t about  “making a positive impression on a single shopper.”  It is about making the best beer possible. How can you say there are no grades of ingredients? Of course there are. The beef sourced by McDonald’s is lower quality than the beef sourced by The Addison at the Grand Del Mar. It is fine if one prefers the beef at McDonald’s; I do not judge someone for that preference. Likewise, there is a range in quality of malt, hops, yeast, and water. Selection based on preference is an absolute must, but higher quality ingredients will make better beer than lower quality ingredients.

Modern Times writes:
“All-natural” means nothing. It’s not even a phrase that was once meaningful that now means nothing, like “local.” The entire notion that some products are natural and others aren’t is absurd. At what point does processing make an ingredient “unnatural”? There is no meaningful answer to this question. Malt is processed. Whole leaf hops are processed. Your poop is processed.

Beer is and should be a natural product. It historically has been made from natural ingredients (grain, hops, yeast, water). It goes through a natural process of fermentation. Fermentation is a natural anaerobic metabolic process the yeast use to create energy and reproduce. If you want to use artificial colors, artificial sweeteners, artificial flavors, or preservatives in your beer then it is not natural. It would be what I call a “malternative” and I probably wouldn’t drink it.

Modern Times writes:
“We will use whichever ingredients lead to the tastiest beer and the most efficient workflow, in that order. That might mean we use the cheapest malt, or it might mean we use the floor-malted heirloom shit imported from a castle on a scenic European river. It makes no difference to me.”

 This is where we agree.

Travis

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