Everyone wants to get good feedback from their homebrew.
At least, I think that is a safe assumption. Even though we may feel we have a good grasp on the brewing process, I know for myself, there is always something, somewhere I can improve on.
The question is, where do you find good feedback? Of course, the obvious answer is at competitions. Competitions are good but you have to wait for them to come around, and they can get expensive, the more you enter them. Another area to get feedback is the friends you share your homebrew with. Let’s be serious, here. Unless your friend is also a brewer (or a beer show host), then you are only going to get one answer. “You’re beer is off the chain, man! Can I get some more?”
So, where is a brewer to turn?
The people at www.brewlabsf.com introduce a new factor into this question, with a potential solution. Brew beer, send to these guys, and they will distribute as a mix6/12 to “members” in the San Francisco Bay area. This gives those who receive the mixers a chance to (1) provide feedback on beers and (2) donate towards delivery and brewing expenses.
I have to admit, it looks rather interesting on paper. The fact that they do not “sell” the beer means that they seem to skirt some of the more costly (time+money) felony charges. They claim to reimburse brewers for their ingredients, which would allow home brewers who make no money on their beer the ability to fund future batches. And donations are encouraged to help pay for delivery and ingredient expenses. By the way: beer delivered to your door? How’s that for the making of an awesome day?
But is it legit?
However, let’s be real for a minute. Beer isn’t free. Maybe we think it should be, but it’s just not. Since beer is not free, money has to change hands. How long before “the man” catches on to this? Is it truly without potential legal woes? Hard to say, as I am not fully versed in the law.
These two obvious sides to this argument have been being voiced even on Twitter. It could be very easy to get polarized on this subject, so let’s just stick with the facts.
- BrewLab promotes homebrewers through delivering their beer.
- BrewLab does not “charge” for beer, as that would be illegal.
- They accept donations to help cover delivery expenses and ingredients.
- They encourage members to rate the beers they try (http://brewlabsf.com/beers).
As of this writing they are 4 batches in, and look to have a decent following. The legality of it is the main cause for concern here.
Could a bad experience with the law end up hurting the homebrewing community long term? Can BrewLabs guarantee members will continue to voluntarily donate to the cause? If it is a legitimate and successful venture, will it spread out beyond the SF Bay area and be a giant surge to the homebrewing community?
What are your thoughts? Post them in the comments below.