Sunday, December 28, 2014

Anti Beer Snob Rant of the Day...

You are what you eat...and drink
Beer certainly isn't your grandfather's six pack anymore--or it could be, if that's what you prefer--but with the Renaissance of Craft Beer in full swing, there are more choices and options than ever for the sophisticated palate to enjoy. Also, beer is now an acceptable beverage to be paired with the finest food. Beer pairing dinners are hot events in my burg, and tickets can sell out quickly whenever a master brewer and master chef are involved.

When I was a kid, beer was solely reserved for the backyard barbecue. Lord help my father if he DARED bring a can of beer to the dinner table! My grandma would have clocked him with a frying pan for such an uncouth faux pas!

We've entered the age of the "beer sommelier" or, more appropriately, the "Cicerone" (from the organization recognized as the authoritative certification program for beer expertise),  and it has been a very long time since some stuck up waiter looked down his nose at me for requesting the tap list instead of the wine list. 

Unfortunately, with the elevation of craft beer to the height of pairing with haute cuisine, a certain level of snobbery has come along for the ride. There are quite a number of beer aficionados willing to plunk down insane amounts of money to stock their "beer cellars" with rare, hard to find brews; purchased from remote, obscure, mysterious breweries. It's also unfortunate that many of these beer aficionados are comically and stereotypically snobby, just like their wine snob cousins. They compete to sample the latest and allegedly greatest new beers and, I believe, are largely to blame for some of the artificially inflated prices (and reputations) of many of those beers. It's a vicious cycle of sorts, stoked by lemmings of the craft beer variety.

The other day, I enjoyed a craft beer with one of my favorite junk food snacks, and I found myself jokingly apologizing for the "pairing". I was only half-joking, though. I could feel the eyes of harsh judgement upon me...well, upon my Instagram, anyway. Thank gawd no one could see me stretched out in front of my TV with all of those Cheetos crumbs in my beard, and on my chest, and on the couch. "Perhaps I should put on a shirt and whip up a nice pork belly panini to go with this beer," I thought.

Now, I've never been one to care too much about what other people think about me, and there I was considering putting on airs for beer snobs that I don't even know. What the hell is wrong with me? I was born in trailer park! I come from a long line of beer-swillin', junk food munchin' hillbillies! I don't need to impress anybody!

Seriously, though, I do fear that we are entering an age of exclusivity that will eventually lead to a significant level of price exclusion in the craft beer world--just like what we see in the wine world. That makes me sad. One of my favorite pioneer craft brewers now sells food items like "quail knots" and expensive "charcuterie plates" in their "beer bistro". They are opening a brewery in Germany, their beers are getting priced out of the market for any regular working man and, in my opinion, they are now too big for their lederhosen.

I know I've gone on this rant before, but dammit, beer is supposed to be the drink of the working man and woman. That's long been part of the charm and lovely character of beer throughout history. Beer has been something to share with the entire community since the dawn of civilization. While I do love to see the art of brewing elevated to the amazing level we are seeing today, I'm somewhat distressed by the price gap that also seems to be growing wider. Truthfully, the idea of squirreling away cases of fine craft beer in locked or hidden cellars, for private, conspicuous consumption is something I find to be more than a little bit offensive.

We all know the legends of high priced bottles of fine wine selling for (literally) a king's ransom. My hope is that such a command for the price of fine craft beer will remain the exception rather than the rule. I have nothing against brewers getting wealthy from their endeavors, but there should always remain a healthy respect for the beverage's humble beginnings and the working class people that brought craft beer to its current heights. /rant

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