Thursday, May 16, 2013

Beer Snob, I Am (Not?)

Who considers themselves a snob? Perhaps the better question is: Who is willing to admit it they are a "snob" AND actually understands what that word is associated with?

Anyone? OK, I will start the trend.

I am a snob. I am a "beer snob" to be exact. However...

I did not ask for this title, nor do I want it!

It has become increasingly apparent that I am being labeled a "beer snob” unfairly. Not only am I being labeled as such to my face, but indirectly and even behind my back! Please allow me to clarify what I am, what I am not, and why I have such a hatred towards this word.

I am NOT a beer snob. I’d much rather be labeled as a beer “geek,” “expert,” “enthusiast,” “anthropologist,” "nerd," or “aficionado” (Personally, I prefer “geek” or "nerd"). I may live by the notion of “Life Is Too Short for Bad Beer,” however that doesn't mean that I am a so-called “snob.” I will make an effort to bring some beers to whatever event I may attend, if at all possible, AND ONLY if it is appropriate. When I do take my own beers to an event or gathering, it is only with the full intention of sharing. I'll educating only those individuals that are willing to learn and ask me questions. But, only if they are willing to learn. If not, that's perfectly fine too. It's just beer.

I am not above anything or anyone to refuse a beer at a party, knowing all too well that it is most likely going to be a rendition of the same American Light Lager that everyone insults. So what? I do not usually prefer this style, but I’ll drink it. Is it a hot day and I'm outside with some friends or family? Bring on the BudMillerCoors (I'll even proudly admit: I love Pabst Blue Ribbon on a hot summer day).

If I’m having a good time at a party, who am I to refuse an offering as a guest?  Last time I checked, my parents raised me to have manners; being a Cicerone® doesn't give me the right to be rude. It's just beer and beer is supposed to be fun.

Beer "snobbery" has its place, although I prefer to call it "classiness." Thanksgiving or other holiday dinners, formal parties, and special occasions are obvious examples. Organized judging competitions also come to mind. When I am experiencing a beer for the first time, I will look at it in a different light than most. After that, I’m back to enjoying my beer for what it is: Beer.

I’m not a beer judge all the time; I do not have to treat each sip as if a gold medal depends on it. Appropriate glassware, correct temperature, proper lighting, and soothing ambiance: appropriate for competition, not necessarily needed for everyday enjoyment (although, I tend to use appropriate glassware, for visual and personal preference). Even though it may look like I am evaluating each and every sip, I can assure you I am not. That is simply how I enjoy my beer. Period.

I have been known to show-off my knowledge from time to time. I need to work on that. My apologies. I merely enjoy talking about something I am so passionate about. The “pinkies-up” mentality will show itself from time to time, but it is usually only when it appropriate. A beer and cheese pairing event: Pinkies-up. Cigar and beer pairing event: Pinkies-up. I enjoy those types of classy things, too. Forgive me?

“I judge, sure. We ALL judge. We judge the way other people drive, the clothes they wear, their politics and the beers they drink. My judging doesn't make me a snob, but the WAY I judge certainly could be. And people judge me all the time (you’re doing it right now aren't you!). It’s human nature. I don’t feel the need to try and quell it. How about we celebrate our humanness! We judge. We’re flawed. We’re generally fun to drink beer with.”

Greg Koch, Stone Brewing Co. CEO and Co-Founder
(From, comments)

In case you can't tell by now, I do not like the word "snob."

Sometimes you just want to relax with a beer, perhaps with good company in a friendly bar, brewpub, or tasting room. Nothing fancy or prestige will feel comfortable if you only want a well-crafted, flavorful beer. Doing what the brewer intended all along: enjoying his/her creation, not fighting over it and certainly not labeling people for not drinking it.

So, let us rise our glass of golden or amber, or pale, or light, or dark, or black, or cider for that matter and take a sip. It demands to be appreciated and enjoyed to the fullest however you see fit. Be it on a hot day drinking that light lager straight from the can, or a cold winter night with a snifter of barleywine. In either situation it is still a wonderful drink, isn't it?

I thought so.


-Gilbert "Charlie" Perez, Certified Cicerone®