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We’re Beer Nerds, Not Beer Snobs

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For those who closely follow the beer industry, much of the terminology bandied about can be quite technical or downright scientific. After all, there are a multitude of styles, flavors, ingredients, temperatures, equipment, processes, and more involved in the production of beer.

All this is a reflection of our complicated nature as humans – we all love different smells, flavors, (mouth)feels and sounds. And while the TV, the facebook, the internet, the media and all manner of other authorities in modern society wish to pigeonhole people and sort them into groups, we’re definitely not all into the same things.

I bring this up in light of an article put out this week on Vinepair, proclaiming that “Craft Beer’s Post-Snob Era is Here.” It’s quite a bold statement, and the kind of click-bait I just can’t ignore, so touché…

In all, I wasn’t surprised by the content – this ongoing trend toward more classic styles instead of sours, IPAS, or what-have-you has been going on for (at least) a few years now. And while I would have probably taken the tack of how craft brewers are really honing in on some stellar Lagers, Pilseners, etc. instead of drinkers moving toward mass-produced adjunct beers, it’s effectively the same point. I get it.

What I did take issue with was this blurring of terminology…

“Recovered beer snobs, also known as “geeks” or “nerds,” are generally Gen Xers who’ve spent years swirling and sniffing taster-sized samples, waiting in line for Heady Topper, and posting pictures of their beer hauls.”

While I acknowledge and appreciate the usage of “generally” here, and will not deny the line-waiting, taster drinking, porch-bomb picture taking activities we partake in, I do take issue with lumping together Beer Geeks and Nerds with Beer Snobs. These groups, in my experience, are two definitely different groups of people.

I certainly consider myself a Beer Nerd – I write about beer and I drink it regularly. I work for a company in the industry and most of my friends are effectively Beer Nerds. We live it, drink it, and breathe it… every day. Some might call us obsessed, and they’re probably right.

We love the culture, the ever changing options, the new releases, and events. While the author does make a great point about fatigue and burnout, this is a reality of anything in life not kept in balance. And I know this as well.

But we are passionate about beer – more specifically those hand-crafted, independently brewed beers in our neighborhoods. These small businesses have slowly become the lifeblood of many small towns across the country. The pub is a cool place again and I can only hope the culture that’s developed as a result will continue to flourish

Yet the notion that the Geeks or Nerds of the craft beer world are synonymous with Snobs is completely inaccurate. I think you can easily group Nerds and Geeks together – a common association from our days in high school.

To be identified as a snob, or a “person who believes that their tastes in a particular area are superior to those of other people,” is simply wrong. Just because many of us enjoy drinking barrel aged beers, Saisons, or hazy IPAs, does not make us snobs. Especially since we’re also enjoying all those newly crafted Pilsners, Helles, and those other classic styles.

Being defensive about multinational corporations purchasing small brewers and clogging up shelf space with generic “crafty” offerings? That’s a moral choice many of us make based upon fairness, freshness, and deceptive business practices synonymous with corporate America.

Being a dick about someone drinking a PBR, Rainier, or Bud Light Lime vs. a local craft offering? That’s silly. I, for one, enjoy all of the above. I try everything and while craft beer is my favorite thing ever, I’m not going to judge someone if it isn’t their favorite thing or if they have a different opinion.

I prefer to hang out with people who aren’t snobs, who value others based upon their character, who are good-natured, and enjoy each other’s company, regardless of what they choose to pour in their face.

So can we relegate the term “Beer Snob” to only be used when describing this ridiculous behavior, to only identify those who choose to insult others for having “lesser taste?”

I’m a Beer Nerd and I’m pretty proud of it… but please don’t call me a snob.

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