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In parusing Facebook (posted 5/23/12) the other day, I noticed a post from a small brewer about a problem with some of their packaged product:

Over the last several weeks it has come to our attention that some Hell’s Half Mile bottles made it to the market under less than desirable conditions.  We identified the problem and quickly worked with our distributors to make the necessary corrections but a small amount did make it to store shelves.  The packaged lot of Hell’s bottles has a date code of Feb 11 on the inside bottom of the six-packs.  If you find yourself with one of these six packs then feel free to bring it by the brewery and we will exchange it for you.  We appreciate the trust all of our customers have placed in us and we want to communicate with everyone to maintain that trust.  Thank you.”

This seems to be a happy trend. There’ve been several similar announcements that I’ve noticed recently and, I must say, it is a very welcome progression in the craft world. The three tier system, in place in most states, makes it difficult at times to control product handling once in leaves your brewery. Your product is then placed in the care of a distributor and eventual retailer who may or may not always handle things perfectly – especially for a little guy. It’s also a significant expense for some of these small guys, who are often are pretty shoestring operations, to buy back sold product (and the more expensive package), but it’s lovely to see more of them do so – to actually stand behind a great product, rather than just sell it.

It’s even more encouraging that more consumers know the difference, as I can’t count the number of times I’ve seen people suck down an obviously skunked or lightstruck beer and say, “This is great” without knowing that it was not in the condition intended. While this may not be their fault due to inexperience, it still doesn’t help anyone – including the brewery sampled in this case – to have bad beer in the hands of consumers.

As the industry matures, quality and standards continue to improve, which means there’s never been a better time to be a fan of the fermented arts.