Thursday, December 5, 2013

Beer Geek vs. Beer Snob

Is this the face of a snob?
I was at a local (not to be named) brew pub the other day with a friend. We got into a chat with the proprietor and my buddy mentioned that we belong to a loosely organized group of beer enthusiasts who arrange bottle share events at various Portland pubs and taprooms. The owner very bluntly said, "So, what would be in it for me?" A logical question, I guess, if you're unable to see the benefit of having 50 to 60 craft beer lovers visit your craft beer serving establishment...

The owner's next statement really threw me for a loop. "We don't like beer snobs."

Wha...? Now, I've certainly never considered myself to be a snob. I grew up in a working class family. Snobbery was something we considered especially distasteful, mainly because we had far more people looking down their noses at us than holding us up in approving admiration. Let's just say I've been called "trailer trash" more times than I'd ever care to admit. As for beer, my pops drank Schlitz, Hamms, Pabst and just about anything he could afford on his tight budget. I'm grateful that I can drink the finer beers in life, but I absolutely appreciate that some folks can't fill their fridge with anything other than those low-priced adjunct lagers. (Ack. I just threw up a little in my mouth.)

I got to wondering if I somehow project an air of a beer snobbery, without even realizing it. Yes, I insist on drinking fine craft beer. I also insist on drinking it in appropriate glassware. Sure, I gently waft the beer and smell it before I take a taster sip. Okay, I often jot down notes or check it in on my smartphone., I may look like a beer snob!

I'm certain my nose turns 90 degrees toward the sky whenever someone offers me one of the "Big Three" crap beers. Does this make me look like a snob to the casual beer drinker? (Just saying "crap beers" probably makes me look like a snob.) Yes, I probably scrutinize a tap list and ask way too many questions before I order. I guess that could be irritatingly snob-like.

However, I like to think of myself as a "beer geek" rather than a "beer snob". To me, there's a big difference. Geeks sometimes unwittingly demonstrate odd, antisocial, snob-like behaviors, but it is rarely their intention to ridicule or belittle. I think that's the important distinction: snobs are mean, geeks are just...weird.

While a beer snob likes to lord his/her expertise and knowledge over others, in order to obtain some sense of snotty superiority, a beer geek enjoys magnanimously spreading his/her knowledge and proselytizing about the wonderfulness of craft beer wherever he/she goes. A beer snob is a master of one-upmanship. A beer geek wants everybody to share his/her exuberance.

My advice to you beer snobs: get a life and quit making us beer geeks look bad. Delicious beer is for everybody! 

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