Old World Brewery: The Old World Must've Been Messed Up


A word often flung around the beer-rating websites on which I sometimes dwell is homerism. The term has a broad definition, but most basically it means support for a local brewery that goes beyond what said brewery deserves. It's most often used by people from states outside a certain brewery's distribution region accusing those in the local market of artificially inflating that brewery's ratings. Homers give extra credit to local brewers, they say, for the sheer fact that they exist close by. It's an interesting phenomenon, brought on perhaps by the local-food movement that's become increasingly popular across the country.

It's also the only logical explanation for why Old World Brewery is still in business.

See also:
- 5 Things You Need To Know About Craft Beer In Arizona
- You "Must" Try These Beer/Wine Hybrids

Why else would people continue to buy beers that have failed to garner a single grade above 40 percent on Ratebeer or Beeradvocate? Why else would someone drink beer from a brewery that was found to have committed more than 17 health-code violations, including excess flies brought inside by the dogs living in the back of the brewery and rat feces found in the grain storage area?

Despite it all, Old World recently premiered several new bottle designs and an enhanced distribution contract with Safeway. It's baffling.

In an effort to remove homerism from the equation, I held a tasting of Old World's offerings with a friend who lives as far away from Arizona as I could think of: Florida. She's knowledgeable in beer, though she had never heard of Old World before trying these. Here's what she thought of each one:

Nitro Blonde
"Explodes with carbonation as soon as liquid hits glass, like watching lava hit water. One part head, four parts white soap suds. Oh. Oh, my God. What is that? It tastes like marzipan -- soapy, lightly floral, very chemically.

4 Leaf Irish Red
"This has the same deal when poured: bubbles. In your mouth, the carbonation makes the beer expand like fire extinguisher foam. It almost burns your tongue. What causes this? Bacteria? It says on the bottle that this is made with Irish malts and Saaz hops, which is weird. Saaz is a Czech hop used mostly in pilsners, so it's an odd choice for this style. The beer smells tangy, almost infected. A touch buttery. A little cinnamon, some apple vinegar. There's not a whole lot of flavor -- it actually smells worse than it tastes. Wait . . . no. It's getting worse. Nearly tart and a little too bitter for the style."

Praying Monk
(After reading the label, which advises drinkers to try something new, like climbing a rock) "Go climb a rock? How about you go fuck yourself? This supposedly combines spicy Belgian yeast with Apollo, Cascade, and Mt. Hood hops. It smells like bean sprouts, pepper and cardboard. A little licorice in the flavor, soapy and super-bitter. It's almost like a real beer up front, with semi-sweet honey. But then there's dish soap in the back. I'm praying that I don't have to drink this beer again."

Location Info

Old World Brewery

334 N. 25th Ave., Phoenix, AZ

Category: Restaurant


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70 comments
saucer
saucer

2013 3rd Annual Denver International Beer Competition --  Scroll down to the Robust Porter category and all the way down to barrel aged category of this link and check out who won a Gold and a Silver medal

http://www.denverbeercomp.com/results_2013.html

PaulF
PaulF

"Homerism" is an interesting term, and an interesting theory as to why Old World Brewery is still open. I wonder what the term is for a local paper that intentionally goes out of its way to be overly harsh in hopes of drumming up trolls and arguments on its blog posts under the false pretense that tons of web "hits" will somehow translate into ad revenue to keep their rag from sinking? What's the term for that?

MartinCizmar
MartinCizmar

This is an excellent post, Zach. One of the best things on beer New Times has ever had.

However one correction:

"In 2012, Four Peaks broke into the top 50 U.S. craft breweries by sales volume while distributing exclusively in-state -- a feat matched by only a handful of California and Texas breweries, which distribute to a much larger local populace."

You're forgetting New Glarus from Wisconsin.

-Martin Cizmar

(Also, why the hell would anyone click something that says it will let MyVoiceComments 'post tweets for you'? Seriously? Not leaving any more comments on PNT until you fix that.)

MartinCizmar
MartinCizmar

This is an excellent post, Zach. One of the best things on beer New Times has ever had.

However one correction:

"In 2012, Four Peaks broke into the top 50 U.S. craft breweries by sales volume while distributing exclusively in-state -- a feat matched by only a handful of California and Texas breweries, which distribute to a much larger local populace."

You're forgetting New Glarus from Wisconsin.

DrBob
DrBob

I try and support the local first movement as much as possible. However in this case based on what I have read I think I will skip this local beer in favor of other local beers. I cannot believe the Department of Health would let them operate the brewery with a suspended permit last year. Not just because of potential danger to those drinking the beer but to those employees at the brewery.  Rat droppings can cause Hantavirus, Lassa Fever, and Hemorrhagic Fever with Renal Syndrome by breathing in dust tainted with rodent droppings. Salmonellosis, and Leptospirosis are just two examples of drinking a beverage contaminated with rat feces or urine that can occur. I cannot imagine the Department of Health would let them operate a brewery when rodent feces were located near a main ingredient in the brewing process.

Fred_Schuster
Fred_Schuster

. Ollllo was spot on with his comments but he failed to mention the 110 IBU's and it is a Pale Ale comment? Someone should look up beer style guidelines, both the writer and the brewer.  110 IBU's would throw it out of the Pale Ale category. Zach Fowle to the rescue please so an honest and knowledgeable review can be done.

freecell
freecell

I don't know what is more entertaining to read, the column or the comments. I've tried their beers before and I  would have to agree with the people who don't like them. After seeing the reports of the health department I don't think I'll ever drink another one of their beers again. What kind of person would make a food product to be sold where it is so dirty? I don't care if it was in the past or if they have cleaned up. They care more about making money than in safety or they would never have let their place get so bad in the first place.

rzumstein
rzumstein

By the way, I know the attorney for OWB that handled its health permitting, and she confirmed OWB was/is required to have two health permits, one for the bottling/production operation, and a separate "food" permit for the taproom service, with different requirements as to each.

rzumstein
rzumstein

Therein lies the rub, it was a 'FRIEND" of Zach, the reviewer, that "reviewed" the beers, hardly an objective,  unbiased and uninfluenced opinion.  Should be taken with a grain of salt, particularly when it is clear that Zach really has an issue with the owner of OWB, and not really the beers themselves.

saucerpass2
saucerpass2

Old world brewery won bronze medals for their honey wheat and their Irish Red Ale at the 2013 New York International Beer Competition, which are beers this reviewer panned.  Here is a link to the proof of that:  http://www.nyibeercompetition.com/2013/02/2nd-annual-new-york-international-beer-competition-results/

It's pretty obvious that this review was based on a sample of beer that was not bottled in 2013, which is really underhanded.  As cicerone, the writer should know the difference between fresh beer and beer that sat in the bottle too long.  The citation to the above national competition  which was among many nationally known breweries (the NYIBC) can not be called "homerism."      

saucerpass2
saucerpass2

Old world brewery won bronze medals for their honey wheat and their Irish Red Ale at the 2013 New York International Beer Competition, which are beers this reviewer panned.  Here is a link to the proof of that:  http://www.nyibeercompetition.com/2013/02/2nd-annual-new-york-international-beer-competition-results/

It's pretty obvious that this review was based on a sample of beer that was not bottled in 2013, which is really underhanded.  As cicerone, the writer should know the difference between fresh beer and beer that sat in the bottle too long.  The citation to the above national competition  which was among many nationally known breweries (the NYIBC) can not be called "homerism."   

saucerpass2
saucerpass2

I thought this was really an unfair article.  I have had the beers on draft at the brewery and they are good and the place was clean.  Bottles of beer can go bad if not stored properly or stored for too long.  Old world brewery is not my favorite brewery, but to be fair, why didn't the reviewer base the review on a visit to their location?  

saucerpass2
saucerpass2

I thought this was really an unfair article.  I have had the beers on draft at the brewery and they are good and the place was clean.  Bottles of beer can go bad if not stored properly or stored for too long.  Old world brewery is not my favorite brewery, but to be fair, why didn't the reviewer base the review on a visit to their location?  

Syiania
Syiania

I see a lot of angry responses from friends and/or family associated with this business however... 

Let's review simply what the article says:

- Homerism for local products? Of course. This point is indisputable. 

- Old World beers that have "failed to garner a single grade above 40 percent on Ratebeer or Beeradvocate". Again, simply an observation of fact, not an opinion. 

- 17 health code violations at one time including, "rat feces found in the grain storage area". Fact. 

- Review of their beer? Just one person's opinion, of course, which is very subjective. That person is definitely a harsh critic, however, she is also very specific, detailed and knowledgeable about her reasons why she is so disgusted. 








FactChecker
FactChecker

The owner has taken to Facebook to explain his side.  I think @ASUMichael03, we both have our facts wrong.  http://www.facebook.com/#!/oldworldaz?fref=ts In the comments section he explains that the permit was for the taproom and that they were never shut down.  So, while they may have been brewing beer prior to the inspection in May '12, they weren't shut down by the health department either.

I have been FactChecked. 

ericjlopez
ericjlopez

Wow, I think it's borderline slander the way they talked about OWB. Personally I will be boycotting world of beer even though I just live down the street. I have also had the same experience as Josh Skora, the few times I have been there the guys were rude, arrogant and a bit pretentious. Ever time I've been to Old World brewery the beer has been exceptional and it tasted even better because of the good company and service from Jeff, Matt and Patrick. I have to be honest and say although I have not had any of the bottled beer , I have had tons of the stuff on Tap and have never had one complaint. The Nitro Blonde and the AZ Honey wheat have been one of the most popular and of course the Dark Knight Porter has received Great reviews from many of the locals I had the pleasure of serving., Everyone has their own Palette and to judge a entire company based on one person's beer snoberry is foolish. I say go to Old World Brewery yourself and try the beers first hand. You can also try them at Taps In Peoria, Mesa and Litchfield.

ASUMichael03
ASUMichael03

Sorry, no idea why my last post posted multiple times.  So now my point has been made ad naseum, I know kind of nauseating as is their beer.

Travis Witzke
Travis Witzke

Wow, dick review. How about using some of those crafty words picked up in college rather than just saying "go fuck yourself?" Classy.

Fred_Schuster
Fred_Schuster

Dickman, so you got a 6 pack of skunky beer from a brown bottle?  Wow, that is kind of hard to do in a brown bottle, green or clear glass yes but brown not. Maybe you should check out what a certified cicerone is because you will never ever be one given your level of beer knowledge. You drank infected beer which is why it was bad.  You should be pissed you paid money for a product that wasn't drinkable. Not all reviews have to be rah rah this beer or thing is great type of review. There are poor products in this world and I for one would like to know in advance if something is worth purchasing or not. I think this was a great article about a place that has some major quality control issues. If it keeps even one person from making the same mistake you did by buying their infected beer it will be a great public service.

derrickaffolder
derrickaffolder

@PaulF Awww, you gonna cry cause your brewery makes crap beer and you don't like it? You do realize that all the Facebook groups and AZ Craft Beer groups mock your subpar product all the time right? Make a good beer, get a good review.

Mesapod
Mesapod

@DrBob "I try and support the local first movement as much as possible" 

Why is that? I think you just proved the author's point about homerism. People like you who support local "as much as possible" without any regard to quality make no sense to me. It took an article from an expert to finally wake you up from your "must buy local... must buy local" hypnotic trance?

Here's an idea... how about buying any product, local or otherwise, because they offer a quality product?

Why this bizarre behavior to lower your standards because the company happens be located in the same county?

Fred_Schuster
Fred_Schuster

Don't know why this posted to this forum, it was meant for the coffee cartels blog post.

Fred_Schuster
Fred_Schuster

@rzumstein Since when do attorneys get involved in obtaining an everyday health permit? A simple permit that thousands of bars, restaurants, food trucks, street vendors and breweries obtain all the time. Sounds like another snow job Old World is trying to perpetuate. I'll side with ASUMichael on this, it appears they have been caught in a lie since the Health Department noted items in both the brewery and tasting room at the time of the closure. Hmmm, maybe I'll take some time today to contact the Health Department and inform them about Old World's admission of violating the Health Departments closure order last year. I'm sure Old World would love another visit from them.

ASUMichael03
ASUMichael03

@rzumstein BUZZZ Wrong, The OWB people are doing their best to diffuse the situation but they fail miserably by getting caught in lies.  The health department in their citation noted items in both the brewery and taproom and pulled the permit. If they had two permits you would be able to see the quarterly reviews of both online at the department of health website and their reviews would talk about the two parts of the business separately.

Bottom line- They are pissed that people don't like their beer and are talking about it and the problems they have had. They'd be better off planning for the future by spending time reading about sanitization or planning a move to New York where there is apparently a void in good beer.
  

 

Fred_Schuster
Fred_Schuster

@saucerpass2 Zach, the cicerone did not judge the beers, his out of state friend did.  There is no  evidence one way or the other on if the beer was fresh or dated, just conjecture on Patrick's part trying to justify a bad review.  If he had a problem with that distributor selling his old product why didn't he buy it back instead of letting them distribute old beer and besmirch his good name? 

As to the New York competition, Nimbus won best Arizona brewery, which really makes Old World look even worse being worse than Nimbus. These have to be the two worst breweries in the state.  Also, the sampling size and the # of medals awarded looks wacky. Practically one in four entries won medals so the sampling size per category had to be rather small, especially in smaller categories like categories like Irish Red where they gave them a bronze and didn't award a gold or silver to anyone, they probably were the only entry, and in the wheat beer category they got a bronze, there was no gold medal awarded and the silver medal winner has a ranking of 21 out of 100 on ratebeer. Losing to a beer that has such a low rating amongst beer drinkers is pretty pathetic and nothing to brag about.

BudDickman
BudDickman

@ericjlopez 

Hey, I think this article is pretentious and ridiculous, but nothing on that list is "inconsequential bureaucratic BS."  If you are going to operate a business that makes and sells a food product, you have to follow the rules.  They are all there for damn good reason.

But, whatever.  No matter how good or bad this brewery is, this is still a dumb article.

ASUMichael03
ASUMichael03

@FactChecker I just read his facebook posts. One word came to mind...DELUSIONAL.  As I stated earlier and now validated by his inane ramblings, you can't believe anything he has to say.

To add to Syiania posts- The beer reviews were done by an independent third party, not by the author and validation of her reviews is the scores that the beers receive on the beer rating sites.

The place simply doesn't make good beer. But there are enough bad beer lovers in the world to keep them in business. Look at all the people who fall for the marketing hype of Bud and Coors. Many of those people who are not fans of good microbrew might like OWB. Everyone's heard of the urban legend story of formaldahyde being put in Budweiser so what if a little rat feces might get put in your beer.  

ASUMichael03
ASUMichael03

@FactChecker LOL So do you think they have two different health permits, one for the brewery and one for the taproom? No way.  They have one address and one health permit. I think if you follow the paper trail it looks like they have a history of malfeasance by not doing what they were told to do by the health department. If indeed they did operate the brewery and just closed the taproom they were doing it illegally and with little regard to public safety.  Some of the citations that the health department noted had to do with the brewery i.e. Rodent/mouse feces found on the floor and shelving at the storage area used for grains or Noted beverage brewing parts and equipment submerged in liquid inside of buckets that contained caustic and strong chemicals, Obtain white food grade containers for the purpose of cleaning parts/equipment. The health department pulled the plug on the whole building last May. I don't think you can believe anything the owner of OWB has to say.

 

BudDickman
BudDickman

@Fred_Schuster 

Apparently you're the one who doesn't know much about beer.  Beer being skunked has nothing to do with the color of the bottle.  It has to do with exposure to UV.  It doesn't matter whether it's clear, green brown, black, whatever.

DrBob
DrBob

@Mesapod Did I say I support local and ignore quality? There are dozens of other local breweries who do offer a quality product. I can both support local and get quality beer, it just won't be from Old World Brewery.

There are many reasons to support local first products. Quality is just one of those reasons as the locally made products are usually fresher than out of state products and can be of higher quality than out of state products because of the freshness.

Because of Old World Brewing's sanitary practices I won't be supporting that particular local business, not when I can get quality beers from Four Peaks, San Tan, Sonoran, and other locally made beers that are of high quality.


If my only choices were between drinking Old Worlds beers and say Stone, Lagunitas, or Sierra Nevada I would choose one of the out of state ones. Supporting local as much as possible does not mean compromising your standards.


rzumstein
rzumstein

It's also clear the ASUMichael03 is an ASUBuddy of ASUZach (a recent ASU grad, 2010).  Unbiased . . . really?

saucerpass2
saucerpass2

Criticizing a bronze medal is really not very good logic.  ... Samuel Adams only got  bronze medals for beers they entered in this event.  You are in good company when breweries like Oskar Blues enter.   Seriously?  It's clear the cicerone did not play fair  with the review.  Seriously, "homerism?"  In New York?

rzumstein
rzumstein

@Fred_Schuster @saucerpass2 When you open a bad bottle of wine what do you do with it?  Zach cicerone would go ahead and write a review.  YOU DON'T REVIEW A BAD BOTTLE OF ANYTHING!!! I'd like to know where you get off being critical of the New York International Beer Competition.  You obviously didn't read their rules before you shot your mouth off.  As far as Rate Beer goes... Well enough said.

ericjlopez
ericjlopez

@BudDickman I hear you bud I've worked in several bars and restaurants in my day and understand the importance of cleanliness and sanitation. I just don't agree with the way the article used a report from last year with items that were obviously fixed since then. 

boingo
boingo

I still don't see how it's a "dumb article".  Zach sent the beers to an unbiased person out-of-state to avoid the homer tag, and she didn't like most of the beers, and gave a detailed accounting of why she didn't like the beers.  What's unfair about that? Sorry, but Old World's beer doesn't stack up against most of the other breweries in the state, and the owner sounds like a whiner when he blames things other than his beer for his woes.  And by the way, I don't think you know what the word "pretentious" means, but nice try anyway.

ASUMichael03
ASUMichael03

@FactChecker Looks like they removed the thread on their facebook page.  Too much criticism on their own page I guess. Bet they wish they could take this article down as well.  Too bad for them the word is out now.  Instead of billboard ads they may want to invest in a public relations and media consultant after they send their brewer to brewing school to learn how to make beer that isn't infected.

boingo
boingo

Strange how you act like you know me.  You don't.  But I can speak as an interested beer drinker that loves to support the local breweries.  I've never tasted an Old World beer that I cared for....if I was ranking the Arizona breweries, I'd have to put them close to the bottom.  I've got no horse in the race, and I'd love to see them make great beer and do well.  But the fact is, I don't care for the product.  I (and my friends) spend a lot of money on beer.  That's a good reason for me to be taken seriously (if you're a business owner).

rzumstein
rzumstein

@Fred_Schuster @rzumstein @saucerpass2 I believe I read where a beer distributor was supposed to be handling that process.  Maybe that is why they self distribute now. Are you suggesting there is rodent feces in the beer.  How slanderous!

Fred_Schuster
Fred_Schuster

@rzumstein @Fred_Schuster @saucerpass2 The blog was accurate. That is relevant. The health department issue was less than 10 months ago, that is relevant. That is hardly ancient history since that beer they were producing at the time is still sitting on store shelves according to Old World since they claim it was that beer that was tasted by Zach's friend. Perhaps that beer sitting on store shelves has rodent feces in it and that is why it is bad. You know any legitimate brewery would pull product off the shelf if they thought it might be bad. That is relevant since Old World apparently doesn't care enough to pull bad product off of store shelves. They'd rather keep making bad beer and blaming it on someone else.

saucerpass2
saucerpass2

@Fred_Schuster @saucerpass2 @rzumstein

New Times should be ashamed at what an unprofessional hack job this article was.  Here is a quote from the article:

"Praying Monk
(After reading the label, which advises drinkers to try something new, like climbing a rock) "Go climb a rock? How about you go fuck yourself? "

... "how about you go fuck yourself?"

How do you defend this as professional?  


rzumstein
rzumstein

@Fred_Schuster @saucerpass2 @rzumstein Relevance! You want to talk about what is relevant!  Most of the statements made in this article and blog are either ancient history, misstatements, or outright lies, that serve to harm not help anyone.  What is relevant is people like and drink and award OLD WORLD beer.

Fred_Schuster
Fred_Schuster

@saucerpass2 @Fred_Schuster @rzumstein Get off the sauce. Yes, some good beers won medals, that doesn't mean that they were entered in the same category. It was a small competition. There are homebrew competitions with more entries. Let's see them win a medal at a big competition, not some tiny one that had very few entries. 4th place when you have no competition in your category is nothing to be proud of.  It doesn't change the relevant details of this blog. They make bad beer and they had health department issues. It is unbelievable that they've stayed in business as long as they have. 

rzumstein
rzumstein

I don't think you would be happy if they did win the Great American Beer Festival.  If the beer was as bad as you say they wouldn't win their own competition.  Never the less, OLD WORLD BREWERY WON two BRONZE MEDALS at the New York International Competition.

Fred_Schuster
Fred_Schuster

@rzumstein @Fred_Schuster @saucerpass2 The problem with your arguement is they just don't have an occasional bad bottle, they are all bad. As to NY-well they offered four medals, double gold, gold, silver and bronze, most competitions only offer three medals, so if it were a normal competition they wouldn't have won anything. Limited number of entries means not a lot of competition and they got beat by another bad beer in one category. Knock yourself out enjoying Old World bad beer, that will leave more of the better beers to people like myself who appreciate good beer. One out of four beers won medals. versus the Great American beer festival where the odds of winning a medal are one in fifteen. Let's see Old World enter that one and win medals like the other AZ breweries have done.  A tiny competition doesn't mean anything.

rzumstein
rzumstein

@boingo You would say something like that.  How do You expect to be taken seriously.

boingo
boingo

Dude....Nimbus as best Arizona brewery?  I don't think anything more needs to be said about the credibility of this so-called competition.  And I don't need to read their rules to know that I can safely ignore their results.  But let me guess; the rules were: Please send us a case of your beer and we promise we'll award you *something*.

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