Food & Drink

Confessions of a Beer Nerd

Beer Nerd Confession
Jason Hoffman/Thrillist

Despite all the beer we drink, beer nerds don't always say everything they’re thinking. At least, this beer nerd doesn't. So I thought it was time to crack an IPA to get the truth-juice flowing and get my beer confession on.

Sometimes I just want a basic light beer

There's a certain amount of judgment that comes with ordering something that's available in 30-packs when you're known among your peers as a "beer guy," or whatever. But dammit, sometimes I'm too full for anything else. Sometimes I wanna level off my drinking at the end of the night. And sometimes it just sounds appealing at that moment. I'm learning to be more OK with that.

Beer festivals can be exhausting

In theory the promise of hundreds of breweries pouring samples far and wide sounds thrilling, in practice it's often a tedious exercise in line-waiting that leaves you cranky, tired, and wet. Maybe that's just me. I have terrible luck with weather at those things.

I used to hate the things I now love

There was a time in my life when IPAs were revolting, double IPAs were doubly so, and my reaction to sour beer was, "That's a thing? That can't possibly be a thing! Oh wow this terrible… am I on a prank show? This can't possibly be a real beer!" Now the first thing I do with any beer menu is scan it for sours. The whole "acquired taste" thing isn't bullshit, I swear.

Homebrewing kind of terrifies me

I love to cook. I love to drink beer. Homebrewing seems like something I ought to be trying. But you can't make just a tiny bit of beer, so what often happens is you end up making a ton of bad-to-drinkable beer before you get it right, and you're forced to either drink up or pawn it all off on relatives/the mailman/unsuspecting woodland creatures. So many people are already making beer that's better than anything I'll make. I'm content to outsource the labor on this one.

The easier a beer is to get, the less I want it

I hate the whole "oh that brewery's huge now, it sold out" phenomenon. Beer's a tough game and people deserve to make money -- this is America! But I'm definitely guilty of gravitating towards the bright, shiny new things. When a previously difficult-to-attain West Coast brewery hits my market (Chicago), there's a rush of excitement followed by a dwindling of interest as it starts popping up in drugstores and airport bars. We always want what we can't have.

Rare craft beer
Brett Mytys

I wonder if I've peaked

Thanks to a generous and obsessive network of like-minded friends, I've been lucky enough to try a good proportion of the consensus-best beers in the world. And I have enjoyed them immensely! But it's hard to replicate that first sip of Heady Topper or Hunahpu's. I'm constantly chasing that dragon, trying to get that "holy shit I've never had anything like this before" experience. But the more barrel-aged stouts you've had, the harder it seems to be to run into one that knocks your sudsy socks off.

I'm more susceptible to groupthink than I'd care to admit

Speaking of beer ratings, I like to think I don't let them, the opinions of my peers, or anything else influence how I feel about a beer. And yet, I'm almost positive they do.

I get way too excited when I turn someone on to craft beer

I try not to be pushy with my non-crafty friends. I prefer more of an open approach -- if I'm opening something really good, just extending the offer if they'd like to try a small pour. Sometimes this plants the seed that develops into a beautiful tree full of hops obsession and other beer nerdery, and I feel like a proud papa. Which is ridiculous. But I can't help it.

I've found myself acting like a grumpy old man

"I can't keep up with these kids anymore" is something I've actually said to myself when arriving at a beer release an hour early only to find the line hundreds deep. I haven't dropped a "back in my day" yet, but it's undoubtedly coming.

For all the handwringing, I love being a beer nerd

There's a lot of talk these days about the coming craft beer wars and the end of craft's more innocent, carefree days. And yet, I still find 98% of craft-loving folk out there to be an engaging, thoughtful, and friendly bunch who just want as many people as possible to be enjoying as much amazing beer as possible. So even if I occasionally gripe about stuff, I love you folks.*

*This sentimentality will increase with beer consumption.

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Matt Lynch is executive editor at Thrillist and beer drinker at large. Follow him @MLynchChi.