Adjusting Attitudes
Posted on 10/2/2013 by Chops
At this point BrewChief is several years old and I have written over 500 beer reviews. My craft beer obsession spans well over a decade and I cannot even begin to quantify the array of styles and flavors I have experienced. It has been a very interesting journey from macro departure to today. Looking back on the transition, I have noticed several areas of growth, be them in knowledge, palate, etc. Perhaps one of the most unexpected areas of growth has been in attitude.

We have all heard that "the more you learn, the less you know". I find this nugget of wisdom to be especially true as a beer fan. When I was drinking macro beers, I knew that the best beers in the world were brewed by huge international corporations. When I started drinking craft beers, I knew that the best beers in the world were found at high-end grocery stores. When I started drinking hoppy beers, I knew that the best beers in the world were only found in beer stores. When I started drinking quality German beers, I knew that the best beers in the world adhered to the Reinheitsgebot purity law. When I started drinking imperial beers, I knew that the best beers in the world were strong and complex. When I started drinking barrel-aged beers, I knew that the best beers in the world were those aged in rare liquor barrels. When I started drinking historic beer styles that had been lost to time but resurrected by pioneering craft brewers, I knew that that I really didn't know what the best beers in the world were. And when I started brewing my own beer at home, I realized that I didn't know jack squat about beer.

It was a very strange revelation, which actually strengthened my long-held assertion that beer reviewing is largely subjective. I started looking back at some of my first reviews, many of which were speculative or misinformed. Some reeked of cockiness and a few were downright mean (my sincere apologies to the undeserving targets). Back then I was nothing more than an eager craft beer fan with strong opinions and something to prove. And how do we attempt to prove ourselves in today's society? By trumpeting our opinions in provocative manners.

In having this discussion with other beer fans, I started to notice a trend. Most beer drinkers follow a clearly defined path of knowledge and appreciation. It looks something like this:

1) Macro Drinker
2) Craft Drinker
3) Hop Head
4) Beer Snob
5) Beer Geek
6) Home Brewer
7) Brewer

In general, each stage has "learned more, but knows less" than the one before it. Expanding knowledge, while certainly empowering, should also be humbling. When I first started, I was transitioning from Beer Snob to Beer Geek and my judgement was sometimes clouded by overconfidence. Product reviews are powerful tools and there is an inherent responsibility that goes along with writing them. It can be difficult to look back and acknowledge blind spots, but I have to make a point of owning them. This website continues to enjoy a growing influence, and I realize today that a better attitude has been growing with it.

So where are you in your own beer journey? Tell us all about it in the comments below.

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