“You’re not tasting it right.”
When I was in high school I distinctly remember watching some awful anime on some awful Tuesday night in which one character explained that if you do not like sake (pronounced sock-eh) it is due to your inability to taste it correctly.
I mocked the notion that there was a correct way to taste such a beverage, but my friend began to explain all the reasons this could be the case: the temperature, what part of the mouth the sake touched, and how long he let the sake linger before swallowing it could have an effect.
Fast forward to 2011, the year of impending zombie doom. On any given weekend, you will likely find me partaking in the art of what is commonly referred to as beeratry. Or Beerism. Or Beerifying. Or Beering up. Regardless of what you call it, I greatly enjoy trying new and varied beers. I love beer and I love sharing this experience with others. When I try a new beer and realize it is the greatest thing that has ever happened to me, I want everyone to know the glory of that sacred nectar.
Upon entering the community of craft brew drinkers, I immediately felt that I was not nearly knowledgeable enough to appreciate the drink that was sitting squarely in front of me. It was overwhelming to look for a beer that had attributes that I thought I might like. I couldn’t tell hops from head, but I knew that I loved the idea of microbreweries and craft beers – it represented something that resounded furiously with the American spirit laying dormant in my chest. I knew I had to persevere.
Luckily, my sake explaining friend actually had become quite the beer nerd over time. I would define beer nerds as individuals who love every aspect of beer and its culture. They can tell where a beer’s ingredients were grown, what time of year they were harvested, and every detail about beer they drink because it is their passion. It’s their life.
Having a beer nerd with you when drinking is fantastic; if you want to know anything about the beer you are tasting, they are happy and excited to explain it to you. If you just want to sit and enjoy a cold one, that’s great too. They want you to have knowledge so that you enjoy your experience that much more. Without a beer nerd, I would never have learned about this culture I can now fully appreciate.
This brings me to the point I wanted to make by writing this article. As I learned more about beer, I learned more about the people drinking it, and the differences betwee a beer nerd and a treacherous beer snob. For the record, I hate beer snobs.
Beer snobs are the jerky jerks who feel that because they have tasted such and such a beer at such and such a time and place they are officially better than you. I am convinced that these morons think they know more about the beer they are drinking than the very people who made it.
Beer snobs like to drink their beer and want to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that THEY are in fact the Beer King of the illustrious Microbrew Kingdom. At best, they usually end up being Dick Prince of Go to Hell Manor.
They enjoy knowing about beer, but figure that nobody could possibly like beer the way they like beer. I mean, they DID drink it on a brewery tour before it was officially released and one time drank with the brewmaster at a pub. Obviously, if you haven’t done that you can’t possibly taste it right.* Their pretentious manner just helps widen the chasm between macro and micro drinkers. They are actively trying to kill the same community that they pretend to love so dearly.
There is hope, though. Over the past few years, I have been noticing fewer and fewer beer snobs and a widely growing interest in new and unique beers. The beer nerds seem to be winning out, as most nerds eventually do. That is because nerds couldn’t care less about the status symbol and monetary possibilities revolving around their vice of choice. They are driven by a passion that would continue to burn on with or without the acceptance of the general public.
So, I guess the real point I am trying to make is that if you find yourself at a bar, looking down at the guy that ordered a pitcher of Miller Light, just stop it. That guy could be craft beer’s greatest supporter if you just buy him a pint instead.
* I would never ever use sarcasm in an article because I am so totally not a sarcastic person.