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.
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:
"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."
(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."