On Beer

beerIn this article the author
does a great job of extolling the wonders of beer
, and I agree that beer is a remarkable beverage. I make my own, and consume quite a bit made by others. In fact, since I have launched this blog I have received comments by people surprised that I am not writing about beer more often. I love the stuff, and while a lot of what the author writes is dead on, I do have to take exception with some of it. Mostly with what stems from this paragraph:

However, even though beer is in so many ways a more complex, varied and expressive beverage, even though far more goes into creating a fine beer than a fine wine (wine lovers, send flaming e-mails here), beer experts don’t scare me. I’ve never met one who treated me like some sort of Philistine because I didn’t know the difference between a pale ale and a pilsner. Whereas I’ve met plenty of wine lovers who snorted at my inability to at first taste tell a California pinot grigio from one bottled in Italy, my encounters with beer aficionados have always left me with more useful knowledge … and quite frequently a pretty good buzz to go along with it.

He may indeed have had some wine snobs treat him poorly, but I have rarely ever encountered a true wine lover who behaved that way. And just to put the lie to his beer expert claim, I would be highly dismissive of a guy who freely admits that he enjoys Bud but not stout. What sort of Philistine would make such a statement?

Okay, that doesn’t really make him a relative of Goliath, but it does illustrate a fairly pervasive attitude about the difference between wine and beer drinkers. Wine drinkers are elitists and beer drinkers are down-to-earth types. Or, taken even further, wine people are all snobs and beer drinkers are uncouth louts. I would dispute all of that.

If someone who enjoyed mass-produced American pilsners were to sit down with a group of homebrewers and beer aficionados while they were discussing beer, you can bet they will walk away with the impression that the people in the group were insufferable snobs, and the newly labeled snobs would probably have the impression that the guy with Lite on his can was ignorant of the finer points of beer. Why would someone who couldn’t tell the regional differences between typical pinot grigiots, one of the easier varietals to do so with, expect to feel comfortable discussing wine as an equal with experts?

If the bad beer drinker showed that he was interested in learning about homebrewing and good beer, he probably would have been welcomed into the group, had a variety of pints bought for him, and sent home with some recipes for what he liked. The same would apply, from my experience, if one were to ask a wine lover to explain what he or she was tasting. There is nothing a wine drinker loves to talk about more than wine. The real issue, in my opinion, is that some folks find beer approachable and wine intimidating and then ascribe those attributes to the drinkers of said beverages. Who is really being the snob?

That said, despite my rant, I really liked the article. It was well-written and very evocative, even if he did trip over one of my pet peeves.

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