News & Updates


  1. Kris says:

    Very cool! Thanks for helping me avoid work for a bit this morning.

  2. Elizabeth Diley says:

    I agree with Kris, Great way to start the day. I’m a half hour closer to the weekend now! More distractions please!

  3. Chip W. says:

    Hope everyone can dig at least one segment of this! We have some great stuff up our sleeves for the future. More local cameos as well as national names in homebrew. Raise a glass!

  4. Wow! That was a fun show to watch. I’m looking forward to future episodes. The Upper Mississippi Mashout segment makes me want to try beer judging. Unfortunately, I know my palate is not as sensitive as others. Others I know pick out flavors that I can’t even detect. My most frequent comment regarding a beer is – “Hmm, nice grain aroma.”

  5. Steve Fletty says:

    People like to say it’s all a matter of opinion, but it’s not. Palate’s can be trained to recognize flavors and aromas and how to talk about those things more concretely.

    I was one of the cofounders of the Mash-Out. We welcome new judges and make sure to pair inexperienced judges with more experienced judges.

    Judging a flight of beers can be an eye-opening experience as you see how well and how poorly things are done within the same style.

  6. David Berg says:


    While it’s true palates can be trained, it’s still a highly subjective exercise. Heck, even the BJCP has “examples” of beers that exemplify the style. Thus, there is a preconceived notion of what the beer should taste like.

    Palate training is a great tool for identifying flaws; unfortunately, you can’t train your palate to determine what you think is good. If we only judge beer on something that is free of flaws, I think you’ll find a lot of “world class beers” fall short of the mark. Diacetyl is a flaw in a lager unless it is a Bohemian Pilsner?

    Every beer you try comes with expectations from your own personal experience. I recall being at the OBF in 1996, and trying all the Hefeweizens. All were quite nice, except one, from the now defunct Chicago Brewing. It was lactic, and all and all, not a good example. I dumped it. A couple of days later, I read in the paper the beer had been misclassified in the program-it was a Belgian Wit. As I thought back, I had to admit, it was a pretty damn good Wit. But I went in with a preconceived notion that it was a hefe…and it didn’t make the mark.

    In the end, wouldn’t it be better if we just threw out all the style designations and said “here’s a beer, do you like it or not?” I often wonder….

  7. Charlie Marks says:

    Long story short, Fletty’s a dick. We can all agree on this.

    Beer is beer is beer. You like it, I like it, someone else likes it, we all like it together, or apart. Who gives a damn?

    Absolutes are no more relevant in beer than they are in pizza or breakfast sandwiches or chocolate chip cookies. Actually, there _are_ pizza critics but what kind of dickhead would talks down to someone for ordering Papa John’s every now and again?

  8. Steve Fletty says:

    Hi Charlie-

    Having never met you I won’t make any judgements about you. Nor did I say anything about absolutes.


    I didn’t say anything about subjectivity. That’s another topic entirely. As a trained brewer you know there are concrete flaws which can be identified. You know those things can be taught. Please don’t confuse the matter by bringing personal taste to the table.


    I was merely trying to encourage Scott, and anyone else, to volunteer at future homebrew judging events.

    I’ll stand by my record as a homebrewer, judge, and active event organizer.

    I helped make the Upper Mississippi Mash-Out one of the largest homebrew contests in the country. I co-wrote the bid that brought the AHA National Homebrewers Conference to the Twin Cities.

    Yeah, I’ve also expressed my honest opinions, sometimes very poorly. Many of them have been misunderstood.

    I’m tired of trying to explain the misunderstandings, the jokes that went awry, etc. I’m not doing it any more.

    If you want to have a real conversation, an actual exchange of ideas, and not just Minnesota Nice Pretense, feel free to look me up or email me:

    On the other hand, if you just want to brown nose brewers and pretend all Minnesota beer is great, just don’t waste my time.

  9. Steve Fletty says:


    You wrote: “In the end, wouldn’t it be better if we just threw out all the style designations and said “here’s a beer, do you like it or not?” I often wonder….”

    How would that be better? A binary decision tree? Like or dislike? Where’s the subtlety?

    Person A likes Bud Liite. Give then a hoppy IPA or any beer with body and they won’t like it.

    Does that make the IPA bad? Does that make Bud Lite good?

    There are some situations where a lite beer is great.When it’s hot day on the beach in the Riviera Maya, a Corona tastes pretty damn good and I wouldn’t want, say, a chewy dopplebock, something I’d ordinarily love.

    Experience does matter. Tastes can be broadened. People can learn.

    We also need more than GOOD or BAD to talk about beer.

    There’s aroma, flavor, mouthfeel, etc. Hops can be floral or citrusy or grassy or earthy. Malt can be crarmelly or toasty or bready or chocolatey. Yeast lends character. Fermentation temps will alter the flavor profile.

    STOP dumbing it down to like or dislike. There’s more language here.

    All of you who’ve gone from industrial lite beer to flavorful craft beer know there’s more than just like or dislike. There’s a whole world of flavors. To condemn someone who does not have the experience to appreciate a saison or a Flanders red is just ignorant.

    Its equally ignorant to say you can cram everything into like/dislike when there is a whole range of ability in the brewing arts as well. Not all brewers are equal.

    Hand someone with no knowledge of sour beer their very first Cantillon. How do you think they’ll react? If you’re lucky they may like sour things. I’d lay down money most people wouldn’t have a very good reaction. Guess that means Cantillon sucks, right?

  10. Steve Fletty says:


    Your story about the hefe versus the wit doesn’t prove we should abandon styles or the language to describe styles.

    You had the notion that it was a hefe, and judged it as such. That means you had the knowledge to eval a hefe and say the wit was not a hefe.

    There is no beer Utopia where all beers are equal.

    Should we disregard your training as a brewer and value that equally against some guy off the street with no knowledge of beer? What does it mean if he, with no skill or palate, likes A when you like B? Both are equal? Training and skill mean nothing?

    I’m not saying everyone needs to be an expert or trained, however, some opinions are much more valuable than others.

    I don’t know about you, but if Dave were to say try beer X versus some goofball off the street who said beer Y, I’d have to go with Dave.

  11. Mag says:

    Steve, I think part of the problem is that you’re pretty condescending and down-right insulting in many of your comments, regardless of the name or e-mail address under which they are posted on this site or any other. So, whether you’re right or wrong becomes irrelevant. Hell, whether or not you have had honest intentions of expressing an opinion or have simply been a dick pretty much gets lost in an inability to “say” anything in a manner that doesn’t offend folks. Your lack of tact has stacked the cards against you, I suspect, in anyone caring about your intentions when you post something. Actually, I more than suspect this. I’ve heard this said many times about you and feel this way myself…and I don’t even know you.

    The sad thing is that you’re probably in a position to be a good advocate for AHA, the Mash-Out, etc. but the way you choose to express yourself really probably does a disservice for anything you support.

    And as far as this goes, “On the other hand, if you just want to brown nose brewers and pretend all Minnesota beer is great, just don’t waste my time,” I guess a rebuttal might be, if all you want to do is bitch about how stupid MN beer consumers (except you, of course) are and how over-rated MN beer (except yours, of course) is and how uninspiring and boring MN beer-writing (except yours, of course) is, don’t waste our time.

  12. David Berg says:


    I think we all realize when we say we like/dislike a beer, there is a wide range of *how much* we like or dislike it, so no, it’s not really a binary tree. Also, I don’t see how that affects the subtlety of the beer.

    Your comparison of an IPA vs Bud Light is a good one; it serves the notion of being able differentiate what you like from what is well made. That’s a great thing for judges (and brewers); however, ultimately the consumer doesn’t really care–they are spending their hard earned cash, so they are spending it on things they *like*. Brewers make a variety of beers with the realization that not everyone’s tastes are the same.

    If a person had no preconceived notions about what defines a “beer,” I believe you could hand them a Cantillon and some would like it, some would not. Can we learn to like things? Probably, but most won’t put in the effort. To the average consumer it’s more of a visceral response than cerebral one. And yes, I understand the learning part is exactly where you’re coming from.

    @everyone else

    In the end, discussion is good. I’ve known Steve for many years, and I don’t take anything he says personally. He makes good points. It would be nice if these discussions didn’t always deteriorate to the lowest common denominator of name-calling, but such is the Internet….

  13. Dave wrote “In the end, wouldn’t it be better if we just threw out all the style designations and said “here’s a beer, do you like it or not?” I often wonder….”

    I see it as coming down to who your audience is. With many of my friends, there is no point in talking about styles because they don’t care if it is Style X or Style Y. They just know they like it.

    However, it can be useful for me to know that the beers they tend to like are Style X because then I can find similar beers for them to try. Sometimes all it take to get someone started exploring the world of beer is showing them that there are other beers that taste like their favorite.

  14. sf says:


    Being direct can and has been mistaken for tactlessness and condescension when that has not been the intention at all. You’ve managed to twist my words pretty well in your final paragraph, finding things I didn’t say, demonstrating, again, the nature of anonymous forums like this and the ability of many to misread and project.

    Yeah, at times I’ve been obnoxious. I also been attacked just for saying something against the grain and disagreeing with conventional wisdom.

  15. sf says:


    Ah! Now I understand where you’re coming from with the whole like perspective. I didn’t realize your angle. That makes a lot of sense now.

    I guess I get too caught up in the notion of how to talk/write about beer flavors/aromas with the idea being if you can explain to a lite beer drinker what they’re tasting or smelling it might give them more insight into a new style.

  16. David Berg says:

    Ha! Well, that maybe the first time I’ve made sense so far this year…perhaps I’m ringing in a new era.

    I like what Scott opined a lot: you really have to know your audience. People tend to become a bit over-enthusiastic (read preachy) when trying to “educate” others about their hobbies. If the person wants to learn, by all means, give them as much info as they can tolerate. Sadly, beer isn’t as important to most people (much to the chagrin of brewers) as it is to MNbeer readers. If you go at it in the same manner with someone who really doesn’t care, you become a snob (at least in their eyes).

    As far as recommending a beer for someone to try…I tend not to do that point blank unless I know the person really well. I do more as Scott does…try to get a feel for what kind of beer the person likes.

    Finally, I’d be remiss if I didn’t say that I really enjoyed the first installment of Brewing TV, and look forward to future episodes.

  17. David Berg says:

    And there you have it, I’m talking about making sense and confuse may be with maybe!

  18. sf says:

    Yeah. The Brewing TV was good. I agree.

    And you’re right. I know I take beer far too seriously.

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