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An Educated Beer Drinker is Their Best Customer

Having attended the Great American Beer Festival, Matt Simpson shares his newfound insights on craft beer.

Matt Simpson (The Beer Sommelier) was one of the judges at the Great American Beer Festival, an event where the judge panel aims to identify up to three world class beers that best represent each beer style category as described by the GABF. The GABF invites industry professionals to evaluate the beers in defined style categories, without knowing the brand or brewery name.

We reached out to Matt to hear his thoughts on the weekend:

Having just got back from judging at the Green American Beer Festival, I’m reminded of just how many real craft beer lovers there are now.

The GABF saw the finest beers in America celebrated, with 318 medals awarded to 283 breweries. Over the three days I analysed around 10,000 beers and was staggered by the turn out – almost 100,000 attendees in one weekend, travelling from all over the world.

That said, do they really know the product they so love? Not even close.

How many beer aficionados can answer even fundamental questions about their chosen beverage, its history, ingredients, brewing process and industry? Do they understand how yeast works and affects the finished product? What’s the Reinheitsgebot? What’s a mash tun and why is controlling its temperature so important? What’s the difference between American and Noble hops? What are some basic flaws of the beer you’re drinking right now? Likewise, what makes a great example of that same beer?

There are 1000 questions; all of which have answers. Some simple, and some quite complex. All are important. If you’re going to do a thing, take the time and effort to do it properly. Learn about said thing. And if you’re going to drink a beer, and love the industry and processes that bring it to you, you owe it to yourself and that industry to respect that beer. And real respect goes beyond simple enjoyment. It means knowing how it got to your hands – grain to glass.

Matt Simpson

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