By: Will Mueller @brewsconsin.wordpress.com
There has been a bit of a buzz on the Facebooks as of late regarding a certain Esquire article titled “The Most Mockable Things That Beer Snobs Do” that has geeks all over the world calling for the “imbecile” author’s head. After laughing my way through the “douche’s” article and realizing that in some way I exhibit every one of the behaviors listed, I think Aaron Goldfarb (terrible pseudonym) hit his target gravity exactly.
There is no denying that beer events, as Goldfarb says, are “predominantly male gatherings of dorks squeezed into obscure brewery T-shirts,” and crowds are “scruffy, pale, and a few pounds overweight but mostly in the belly.” During Madison Craft Beer Week this year my restaurant released a Sci-Fi-themed ale and had about half a dozen “Comic Book Guys” waddle in two hours before the tapping asking if they could just get a taste. Two hours later the entire bar area was packed with a similar ilk and a mad dash for the beer was on. We sold the beer for $4/10oz but could have charged $8 or $10 just none would bat an eye. In the articles I have read of Goldfarb’s, a whopping two in all, he comes across as Beerstradamus. But I’ll stop tugging the guy off since I didn’t even know what the hell Esquire was until I read all the beer geeks ironically complaining about its pretentiousness. I’ll just go ahead and explain why I embody all of the of the annoying things that beer geeks do, even though I claim to live in the low range of the geekiness spectrum. For every “annoying” action of my own, I have seen ten-fold how geeky geeky can get.
I don’t take notes per say, but I do check every unique beer I have into Untappd and have been doing so since December 20th 2012. And, whether it is a testament more to alcoholism or geekiness, I am currently at (checking smartphone) 462 unique beers and plan to hit 500 before my first year of Untappd is up. Pretty sure I get a badge for that. How many badges do you have? While I don’t put much stock in taking notes or rating the beers, I do walk into a bar and intentionally order something I haven’t checked into and usually check in after my first sip. If you want to know what beer I drank last for whatever reason, friend me on Untappd @bigbeardbrewsconsin or @brewsconsin on Twitter, because for some reason I feel the need to put all of that information out there.
When people ask me for a light beer I generally point them to the shelf that has Miller Lite, PBR, and 12 Mexican beers that all taste the same (like butts) and if they are unsure I try to get them into a gateway beer like New Glarus Spotted Cow or Capital Supper Club. My favorite beer order is when someone asks for a Miller 64. I tell them, “I don’t have it, but I do have Miller Lite and water. Do you want me to make you one?” Sometimes I think I am the only person who gets that joke. The customer will usually order a Corona Light or something and we will both walk away from the experience wondering how we failed to connect. I just want people’s mouths to be happy. Is it wrong for me to think they can do better? Why can’t I just be happy for them for liking what they like? I’ve never classified myself as a beer geek, but somewhere along the line I became the self-righteous snob with annoying behaviors that Esquire is accusing me of being.
While not active on any of the forums, I probably have signed up for and have an account for all of them. And, when I am not busy getting drunk (the last few months apparently), I do have my own beer blog and have done more beer writing with my $50,000 in journalism degrees than I have using those skills trying to get a grown-up job. I might be more inclined to get involved, but in reality, I just don’t care that much what strangers think about beers. I usually only care what I think about beers (because I am a self-righteous snob…and lazy). But, when the beer community got all in an uproar about being judged for acting exactly like they act I decided to chime in. Perhaps my blog will become a forum and I can quit my night job?
I pretty much drink everything at home out of a pint glass or a tulip and am pretty anal about glassware in my house. I like to have even numbers of glasses and matching sets. Pint glasses are the only exception. I don’t want to have more than one of the same pint glass, but I want them each to tell a story of where I have been and how I came upon that particular pint glass. I do, however, get off on bars like the Malt House here in Madison where every beer comes in the glass the brewery wants the beer served in. I don’t get there much though, since it is usually jammed packed with beer geeks from the local club. If you want some good geek talk that is the bar to be a fly on the wall of for sure. They’ll astound you with stories of brewing rituals and dazzle you with official-sounding terms like cold break. They might even try to cut into a few local favorites for you. They’ll make no real points, mind you…but it is going to be a lot of fun.
There is something special about getting the beer before everyone else. When the Wisconsin Brewing Company beers came out this week I was quick to point out that I tried most of them when they were test batches at the Great Dane and tried the others at the pre-opening friends and supporters party. I tend to get invited to these things because I occasionally write about beer and free press is usually looked upon as a good thing. In fact, WBC just unintentionally got a shout out here, so I guess their evil plan to wine and dine me worked. And all it cost them is two free beers and one handful of chocolate candy corn I regret taking on my way out the door. Why do they even make that stuff? I have run a few beer release parties in the last few years and intend on doing several more collaboration releases for 2014 with a few of my favorite local breweries. Beer releases are great because the geeks always come. Even if your beer is just okay, it will be talked about it like it was something great. Why? Because at the end of the day the beer will be gone and the few who tried it will be so grateful that they will sing its praises to all those less fortunate than themselves.
Admittedly, this is one of the downfalls of snobbery. But to be honest, there are certain flaws that beer can have that are just not enjoyable to drink. As a BJCP Certified Judge (official after next weekend’s point is tallied), we judges dump a lot of beer. Everyone has to learn to brew somewhere, and a lot of homebrew batches just don’t turn out that well. Some taste like poison; Though nothing one can do in the normal brewing process can cause actual poison, the bottles and glasses don’t get finished. Often times we save really bad ones for the classes to help others learn what beer shouldn’t taste like. Sometimes in the commercial brewing world bad batches exist. Sometimes beer gets too old, intentionally or unintentionally, and doesn’t stand the test of time. I usually finish beers, even questionable ones, but everyone should have their limits of what they are willing to finish. If it tastes like cardboard, band-aids, or butter…by all means, DON’T finish it. Something went wrong. It is okay to let that beer go, it wasn’t meant to be. Just accept that you are a fat, bearded, pale, middle-aged snob and be happy because your mouth is happy.