Junction Brewing Lambton Yard, with as much head as I could coax.

The Importance of Explaining Beer

Junction Craft Brewery Engineer's IPA, from June's BrewBox
This Engineer’s IPA from Junction Craft Brewery is a damn fine beer, however…

Last month I got the May care package from The BrewBox Co. and was forewarned that one bottle from Junction was off. The brewery knew that when it shipped and promised a make-good in this month’s box (ie. the damn fine beer pictured above). But I don’t understand why Junction would have released the other beer in the first place.

Beer drinkers discussed the faulty beverage. They rated it on Untappd. They brought down the brewery’s generally positive reputation.

I remember interviewing a brewery rep (from a different company) a few years ago and being told if something experimental doesn’t work they just give it a ridiculous name, keg it, ship it to pubs as a one-off, then move on to the next. How long can you get away with that before beer drinkers stop trusting you?

Junction Brewing Lambton Yard, with as much head as I could coax.
Junction Brewing Lambton Yard, with as much head as I could coax out of it.

When I mentioned this on Instagram, I got the following comment from the owner of Junction Brewery:

The beer in question was not bad. It was a low carbonated cream ale. Instead of going to the trouble of trying to explain why this beer was low in carbonation by style, we opted to just replace it with something less complicated like our new release Engineers IPA. We recently dumped a whole batch of another beer that made it into cans and did a full recall.

To be clear, I never said it was bad. I said it was off. Cream ales should have medium to high carbonation.

But let’s give Junction the benefit of the doubt. If, in fact, that was the way it was intended, why wouldn’t you explain it? Every BrewBox goes out with an envelope stuffed with opportunities to talk about your beer. As you can see, Junction has taken advantage of the opportunity before.

Found inside past BrewBoxes
Found inside past BrewBoxes

To release a beer you know isn’t normal, then not explain it… that’s still not doing your brewery’s reputation any favours. Scrolling back through the Untappd reviews, it’s clear I wasn’t the only one forewarned about the beer. Even the co-founder of The BrewBox Co. called it out.

Some were merciful enough not to score it, but still left some unflattering comments
Some were merciful enough not to score it, but still left some unflattering comments

Interestingly, when Tallboys poured the same beer on tap, it had a “lovely creamy head that lasts.” I guess Junction also neglected to tell them it wasn’t supposed to be served that way.

Untappd reviews for Lambton Yard on tap
Untappd reviews for Lambton Yard on tap

I like Junction. I’ve visited often and consumed plenty of its styles. My Untappd profile shows 17 different ones.

But whether this beer or the lack of a decent explanation was the mistake, there’s a important lesson here for any brewer releasing a beer that doesn’t live up to its style.

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