Bridging the Beer Conversation
Posted on 7/1/2013 by Chops
One of BrewChief's primary goals has always been to bridge the beer conversation. On one extreme you have the beer snobs, those insufferable pricks who drink solely from the upper echelons and look down upon everyone else. On the other extreme you have the beer dolts, those stubborn morons who fear change and buy into big budget advertising hook, line, and sinker. I refer to both of these groups disparagingly because they do a damn good job in preventing the rest of us from having a civil discourse around beer. Much like with politics and media, it's the obnoxious fringes that get most of the attention.

To help illustrate these most irritating of attitudes, consider the following scenario. Let's put two beers on the table. One beer is a world-class rauchbier lovingly brewed in the heart of Bamberg, Germany. The other beer is a decent baseline American pale ale that is painfully simple and utterly forgettable. With me so far? Good, let's analyze some reactions.

A beer snob will unflinchingly opt for the rauchbier and turn their nose up to the pale ale. The rauchbier is a world-class offering and that is what is important. It's the better beer on paper. It has a ranking. A beer snob will never consider the other beer and will actually chastise anyone who does.

On the flip side, a beer dolt will take one swig from each beer and immediately return to whatever bargain basement swill they have been drinking for decades. "Neither one tastes like my Budweiser." No tingles of curiosity. No blips of critical thought. Just cold, hard, brainwashed stubbornness.

The snob accuses the dolt of being a gullible idiot (which they are).

The dolt accuses the snob of being an elitist prick (which they are).

End scene.

Now let's concentrate on the reality of this situation: an overwhelming majority of informed beer drinkers will choose the pale ale over the rauchbier. Why? Because most people think that the rauchbier tastes like burnt sugar bacon. Sure, it may be a world-class beer with a crazy level of complexity, but that doesn't necessarily make it appealing to the average consumer. To be perfectly honest, most beer fans would cringe at the thought of having to drink a world-class rauchbier every day. Nothing against the style or their amazingly talented brewers, these beers just require loads of education and a healthy perspective. A tasty pale ale doesn't.

In a general sense, we are perfectly happy with good, we enjoy the occasional perfect, and we avoid the shitty. The annoying fringes are the ones who focus on the perfect and the shitty.

And voila, we return to the original point of this post: what conversation do we want to have about beer? At a baseline, most beer fans simply want to meet in the middle. We want to praise that decent pale ale without getting accosted by snobs and dolts. We also want to admire the quality of the rauchbier and call it "burnt sugar bacon" without getting accosted by snobs and dolts. If we've said it once, we've said it a thousand times: any opinion on any beer is completely valid, so long as it has substance. It has taken several years of writing beer reviews to figure out exactly what that means. Put simply: we're all friends in the middle.

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