How to Truly Love Beer Without Being a Dick
With the rising tide of craft beer, there is a commensurate bed of shitkelp left on the shore. These undulating, condescending neckbeards grip Moleskine journals and non-ironically predicate their self-esteem on bottles of sugarwater: but it doesn't have to be this way. You can be informed, excited, and deeply into beer without being a dismissive turd hammer. Here are some helpful tips to not come across as a trilby-wearing, off-putting gourmand the next time you go to a beer bar:
1. Remember: most people don’t give a shit about a beer just because it’s rare or impossible to obtain
The average drinker doesn't give a fuck about the bottle counts, or per-person allotments. Chances are, if someone is engaging you to ask why you have a 750ml bottle in a bar, it is out of passing curiosity. Instead of quoting secondary market values, explain what is special about the beer itself. The Madagascar vanilla beans, the cloud berries -- you don't need to put all of this information in the first sentence of your reply. Chill the fuck out.
2. Never tell anyone what they "should" be tasting
It’s already abrasive enough to have someone thrust a taster glass in your face, let alone dictate how you should feel about it. Everyone starts somewhere and the fun part of a DI-alogue is that your MONO-logue about your BJCP tasting notes doesn't mean shit to the average person. Try to listen twice as much as you talk, you'll learn new perspectives and maybe a whimsical new adjective for your Geocities-tier beer blog.
3. Stop talking so goddamn much about the history of beer; most people don’t want to hear this shit
When most people have a passing question about a beer, they don't need to hear that same goddamn story about the origins of the India pale ale. Often if someone is new to beer, they are asking as a point of reference to understand what it is, and don't need a historical summary of the Baltic Sea and stout politics under Catherine the Great. Give a touch of information and let someone react to what you said, you know, the way every other fucking human being in the world talks.
4. Being intentionally esoteric makes you look like a prick
I understand that there is a modicum of terms that "HAVE NO REAL TRANSLATION" but at least try if you’re talking to someone who is just beginning to learn about beer. Hit on grounded concepts like the flavors most people have tried before, instead of looking like a perma-virgin chemist rattling on about the "acetaldehyde components structuring the lactobacillus in the finishing gravity."
5. Let someone tell you about THEIR beer experiences
You might not give a fuck about the Chimay Red that someone is quite happily downing for the first time, but that's how talking works -- you listen, then respond. Think about other conversational contexts. When someone tells you about their baby shower, you don’t try to outdo them by saying how yours was really obscure and you had to trade a case of Heady for the wall decorations. Beer should be no different. When people encounter beer nerds in the wild, they are subject to a railing diatribe about all the releases, trades, and bottleshares they have attended. That isn't fun for anyone, especially if you have no frame of reference for what the other person is talking about. Know your audience and listen to an ENTIRE story about a pumpkin beer that someone else loved, even if it makes your sand-dollar nips all achy.
6. Spending more on a beer doesn’t make your beer story any more relevant to the average person
Whenever someone even mentions a beer, some snobs’ impulse is to soapbox about better versions; how they've had a more limited version of person one’s peasant-like endeavor. This is the equivalent of a trust fund dipshit peppering everyone else's travel story with how low-orbit flights are getting way too pricey but they’re gonna keep doing them anyway. We get it: this is what you do with your expendable income. Let someone else shine a bit and be proud of some smoked Vienna lager they had while studying abroad. Listening to a two-minute story won’t seal your urethra shut, you'll get through it.
7. It’s perfectly fine to let someone order whatever the fuck they want
If a horrible beer snob goes out with a group of people, chances are they will alienate them by directing the conversation back to beer. "Funny thing about failed IUD devices is, it’s kinda like brewing..." Don't make matters worse by scoffing or presenting officious ordering advice at a bar or restaurant. If someone wants a Shock Top over a 25cl pour of Avec les Bons Voeux, then leave them alone. If they actively ask you what you ordered, of course, then by all means, bother them to your overworked heart's content.
8. If everyone else thinks a beer is shitty, don't argue with them
I can't believe that this needs to be stated, but just because you dropped $150 on beer and countless trips to FedEx to trade for it doesn't mean that your "normal" friends aren't allowed to think it tastes like afterbirth. Instead of explaining to your friends why they are wrong, talk about what makes the beer taste the way it does, so they can walk away with a bit of knowledge about things they don't like. You already made them drink a nautical oak-aged Dortmunder on currants -- might as well explain to them what it is they dislike instead of quoting the 150-bottle count.
9. Always remember: you don't know shit about plenty of other hobbies
Have you ever been to a comic book store and asked about Gundam models? NO? JUST ME?? OK. FINE. Then imagine any other hobby where you were starting out and didn't know a damn thing. That's how it feels for most people who don't obsess over a consumable item sold in the grocery store. If you ran into a dude who was super deep into craft dryer sheets, would you stop and listen? Now imagine how it would feel for Craft Dryer Sheet Dude to act like a total dick to you. Similarly, treat everyone else how you would have wanted to be treated when you didn't know what a lambic was, unless you are on the Internet, then you can be a complete asshole to them. Then it is totally fine.
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