Is it an insult to a brewer to take steps at the point of sale which fundamentally change their product?
We’ve never had beer served through a ‘Randall’ or any similar device, but find the idea of infusing further hop flavour and aroma as the beer is served intriguing – a modern, hophead-friendly version of the old habit of mixing beers to achieve just the right flavour.
It had never occurred to us that some brewers might feel like this:
— Tom Fozard (@cheeeseboiger) January 25, 2014
We were reminded of a 2012 campaign to get British film fans to adjust the settings on their TV to ensure that films were seen ‘as the director intended’, a similar attempt to exert control over the experience from production to consumption.
Brewers are, sadly, rather used to having their ‘artistic vision’ compromised: we’ve heard countless tales of beer handled and stored carelessly, served past its best, poorly presented, or even with the wrong pump-clip attached. Greater control is just one reason some, often reluctantly, have turned to kegs in recent years.
The Randall is interesting, though, because it is an attempt to improve the beer — to help it achieve its true potential, its supporters might argue.
We can see that, if you have spent months or even years perfecting a recipe, subtly tinkering with hop varieties and doses, it might be irritating to have some amateur say: ‘Meh, boring — let’s filter it through a load of Simcoe and see if that makes it taste of anything.’
But couldn’t it also help brewers achieve their ‘vision’, avoiding the Curse of the Disappearing Hop Aroma? It is, after all, the ultimate late hop addition.
At any rate, while we understand the sentiment, we’d defend the right of customers to screw up their beer any way they like, as long as they’re paying for it. We’ll leave the final word to someone who works in a bar:
I think I should write a blog applying Roland Barthes' 'Death of the Author' to beer. #phdlife
— Hali (@GroveHali) January 26, 2014