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I’m not sure why this is the post that brings me back to blogging, but good gravy, it’s been bugging me like CRAZY.
Here’s the deal. I love beer. Not that crappy Bud/Miller/Coors mostly rice adjunct stuff that 90% of the country thinks of when they hear the word beer, but BEER. I mean real beer. My first beer was a Sam Adams Boston Lager (I was 21, at an airport, and they were giving away free pint glasses if you bought the beer). I won’t turn down a free beer, even if it is from one of the B/M/C companies, but I also won’t seek out one that I don’t enjoy. I love experimenting with new beer. I love sharing what I know, but also realizing there are much smarter beer loves out there who are willing to share and learning more from them. If I’m at a good bar or restaurant that has a fun beer selection, I like trying new ones. I like mixing up my thoughts on good pairings and trying new ones (like the mango IPA on cask with a mixture of sharp cheeses I had last week? UN-FREAKING-BELIEVABLE). I like beer festivals. I try to seek out fun new releases.
All in all, I like beer.
The majority of the people I know who are in similar situations are awesome. The brewers, brewery employees, bartenders, beer purchasers, and almost everyone else in the trade that I’ve met have been awesome. People who just love to enjoy beer for what it is – a beverage that has tons of room to experiment and and enjoy – have been mostly awesome.
But there’s a portion of the population that literally makes me want to never associate myself with ‘craft brew drinkers’ ever again.
Want to know what I mean? Go to beeradvocate.com and look on the message board. It’s a bunch of guys fighting about which beers should be considered “session beers” based on their alcohol content. And they’re serious. Pages after pages after pages of idiots engaging in mental masturbation about BEER.
Here’s the deal. If you like it, you like it. If you want to drink it, you drink it. And you drink as much as you want (as long as you don’t drive, obviously).
If, instead of drinking, you get yourself all worked up because some chucko on the internet disagrees about what percentage can be declared a ‘session beer,’ you need to get a life. Honestly.
If you spend your time writing formulaic reviews of beer for sites like beeradvocate.com instead of enjoying the beer you are drinking, you make me scratch my head.
I remember a few years ago, I showed up at Dark Lord Day at Three Floyd’s Brewery in Indiana with just a few friends and an openness to what might happen. We had tons of great beer. We met lots of amazing beer lovers. We bought some Dark Lord. It was amazing. There was a line, sure, but we hung out with the people around us. We shared our favorite beers and learned life stories. Pretty much the ideal Saturday. We hit it up again the following year and the crowd had started to shift. Still, the majority that we met were pretty great. A few were there to buy the beer at $15 a bottle, then sell it for $50 or more, but they were few and far between.
Then, this year, we returned. Instead of finding people who just loved beer, we found these people who are apparently called “tickers.” Tickers, I found out, basically dedicate their online lives to ticking the specific beers they’ve had. The more beers they try, the more beers they can tick, the more impressive their beer list becomes (apparently?).
These are the guys who walk around asking you for a sample of the rare beer you’ve brought to share, then turn around and write a 500 word review on beeradvocate.com about how the sample smelled like sweat and whatever beer was in their glass just a few minutes prior. The sample you shared was a bright, orangish glow and laced their glass with a temporary, tanish foam.
Or, it was beer.
I tried not to care about these folks. I tried to ignore them. But. But now, I can’t buy the seasonal or unique beers my favorite breweries are putting out there in the market. I can’t go to beer festivals because they’re buying all the tickets so they can buy the beer and sell it on Craigslist or Ebay. A bottle of beer that should be $10 at most is now being sold for $30 because a bunch of chuckos want to write a review online in hopes that they will somehow be revered for their amazing insight about the lacing that it leaves in their special glass they bought on Ebay for $40.
Meanwhile, I’m happy to enjoy my homebrew that tastes like a bunch of rancid crap compared to the amazing beer being put out by people who know what they are doing.
That’s another thing – a lot of these chuckos are somehow getting capital to open their own breweries. Somehow many of them are using community sourced funds like Kickstarter to get their crappy homebrew into the public sphere. If we truly operated within a free market world, these beers would never sell (because they suck) and the companies would die off.
Unfortunately, the maker of a crappy beer can have enough influence to get their beer on the shelves. I have no idea how it happens. For example, here in Chicago, we have some GREAT breweries. Half Acre, Revolution, Metropolitan, etc. In the past year, at least 3 breweries have decided to start up and ask for people to commit funds to get them started. Finch’s, a new brewery getting a few taps at some places I frequent, produces some of the most lackluster beer I’ve ever had.
But they stay on tap. They get picked up by bars who just want to say that they carry Chicago beer. Mediocrity is rewarded while truly great beers are left off.
I think I’m getting a bit whiny, so I’ll just wrap up by saying this – if you spend your time talking about how your list of the top five double IPAs of all time is way better than the other guy’s list, you’ve missed the point. Beer is at a point where we can enjoy it. We can celebrate the creativity of a brewer. We can recognize the huge differences in the beer world, and also recognize that a beer you like may not be the greatest beer in the world. You can be open to trying new beers without being belittled for not knowing the exact balance of malts to hops your brewer uses. I promise – it’s ok.
Now, I’m off to drink.