One of the reasons why I really fell in love with craft beer was the atmosphere of the community. I was already an avid wine drinker and had spent a lot of time visiting some regional wineries. There’s something about most wineries that just feels snobby. I’m not sure if it’s the wordy descriptions or the upscale décor or the older crowd or the jazz music or the way the wine is poured for you. Whatever it is, it just feels snobby.
When I went to my first brewery, it felt so much different from that. The people serving you beer are so different! They genuinely love beer and are excited to tell you all about it. There’s rarely some weird and wordy description. You can drink a beer and simply decide for yourself whether or not you like it. You can sit around with your friends with a sampler and just kick back. I loved it!
In this way, craft beer is far less snobby than wine. However, since I’ve become more engulfed and involved in the craft beer community, I’ve discovered that snobbery does still exist, it just comes in a different way.
While wine might feel snobby in its environment, I feel that the craft beer community in itself has become a bit snobby. Just take a look around Beer Advocate or Untappd. It’s suddenly all about exclusivity and chasing the rare beers. It seems many beer drinkers are using these channels for a weird self esteem boost. Even when you go to a brewery or a great craft beer bar these days it seems there’s always someone there willing to tell you their opinion about everything you’re drinking and probably tell you about all of the things he/she has had that is ‘way better than this.’ I’m sure these people think they are helping to educate you, but it really does come off as just plain snobby.
Lets face it, craft beer is growing and a rapid rate. This is an awesome thing. We need to embrace all of these new converts. Sure, they might start out drinking Boston Lager and #9 (which are still craft beers!), but they’re NOT drinking Bud Light or Blue Moon. This is a wonderful thing! We are all in this together. We have to make everyone feel comfortable.
My proposal? When you meet someone at the local bar or brewery, instead of telling them what you think of the beer, ask them what they think of it. And instead of responding with a comment comparing it some other better beer you’ve had, just describe how THIS BEER tastes. Talk about your current surroundings, give them some background information about the brewery, tell them about some other cool places in the area to check out, add them as a friend on UnTappd, or anything else that will truly help them discover and love craft beer. Both Beer Advocate and UnTappd were created to bring people together. We are better than the snobbery.
I will leave you with one of my favorite quotes from one of my favorite people in beer:
“At Dogfish Head we are beer geeks, not beer snobs. This means we love and respect all good beer and realize that appreciating beer is subjective….Beer snobs are the people who want to prove how much they know about beer by bashing a brewery.”
– Sam Calagione