Finding the Gateway to Craft Beer.

This is a metaphor.

Not this kind of Gateway.

I think it’s reasonable to assume that all of us have had bad beer at some point in our drinking lives. Whether we knew it was bad beer at the time is something that can probably be debated. If you were like me, you were young, you were broke, and you wanted the most volume for your limited dollars. Enter that sweet 30 pack of whatever was the cheapest and you were only too happy to drink down. When you are in your early 20’s, that is what we call ‘living the high life.’ Good thing for marketing campaigns.

Nowadays, ten plus years removed, it is fun to look back and think of the bad beers we have poured down our throats. It’s pure nostalgia and it helps to transport us back to times when we were living to party. Paychecks meant your drinking money for the weekend. Your night life revolved around getting as many of your friends together as possible and doing stupid stuff, usually in an effort to impress others. In that sense, it’s hard to look at all those beers as a negative thing, after all, you have so many positive memories attached to them.

For some people, they stick with the beers they know. People like things that are of a comfort to them. Why rock the boat? You know what you like so you stick with it. There is nothing wrong with that. For me, and a lot of people that I know, this mentality doesn’t work for us. Most of us have sought to broaden our beer drinking horizons, after all, it’s a big world and people are brewing up a lot of new and different beers. It’s an exciting time to be a craft beer lover. Out of this world IPA’s and mouth-puckering sours are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the brave new world that craft brewers want to lead us to.

But how did we get here? Specifically, how did you get here?

At some point we made the leap into the unknown, leaving the beers of our youth behind us and letting our palates come alive to all the flavor potential that exists in the world. How did your palate progression happen?

In my case I remember growing bored with beer. The big macro brews had grown dull so I craved something new. I started drinking Samuel Adams, say what you want about Sam, but he got me out of drinking macros in the 90’s. From there I started drinking Yuengling, a favorite of the region I lived in. For a few years I was a lager guy. Then two events happened that would turn my beer world upside down. First was with my very first taste of Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. It was not love at first sip. Secondly, I moved from the east coast back to my home state of California. Three beers would lead me to become the hop head that I am. In hindsight I realize I might have tried them out of order. Stone IPA was handed to me at one of the very first parties I went to in San Diego. I wasn’t worthy at the time. Next someone suggested Karl Strauss’s Red Trolley, a safe beer which I dug for a while. The third beer, well, this is the one that I give the most credit to for shaping my palate into what it is now, this is my gateway beer; Ballast Point Yellowtail. Currently known as their Pale Ale, this beer, which is actually a kolsh, had the perfect flavor profile and just the right amount of hops to make my tongue percolate. It was only a few weeks later when I stepped up to the plate and had my first Sculpin. I was hooked on IPA from that day forward.

Even if you aren’t a hop-head, you prefer stouts or browns or Belgians, at some point you had to find these beers. At some point you had to break away from macros and start to explore all the amazing malts, the dark fruits and floral notes, the citrus flavors, the piney aromas. I want to know, what was your crossover beer? What was the gateway to the world of craft beer for you?

Here are five recommended crossover beers. Now keep in mind that every person’s palate is unique and if they aren’t ready, they will probably not appreciate the beer the same way you do. You can’t give a person who has been drinking Coors for twenty years a freshly poured Pliny the Elder and expect them to fall to their knees and weep at the beauty of the beer. It’s not their fault. They just need to be exposed to a great craft beer that’s right for them before they can give it the same love as you. Having said that, once I started bringing them home, my wife took to IPA’s like a fish to water, so remember, it’s all subjective. These beers are available year round and are bottled or canned for ease of purchase and listed in no particular order. *Pictures are from each brewery’s respective website. Links to said sites are provided below. 

 

  1. Sierra Nevada Pale AleMight as well start with the beer that basically started the craft beer movement back in the late 70’s. The beer is light and fresh without having an overpowering hops profile. Having said that, it can and probably will come across as bitter to a person more accustomed to sweeter, malty beers. That’s alright, it’s an entry point so they can get familiar with the style. Plus you can tell people all about how they are the world’s leading Clean Energy brewery. paleale
  2. Alesmith Speedway Stout I’m probably a little out of my mind for suggesting you use this 12%ABV monster stout as an entry point to craft beer but hear me out; the complexity of the beer, it’s multitude of flavors and it’s pure, easy drinkability make this is prime example of craft beer at it’s finest. This beer will be a hit with your friends who can’t get enough coffee during the course of their work day. Plus, it didn’t win the 2013 Sore Eye Cup for best regularly brewed beer in San Diego for nothing…along with a score of other awards over the years as well. Alesmith-Speedway
  3. Modern Times Fortunate IslandsModern Times may be a new brewery but this beer is simply fantastic. The bright, tropic flavors and aromas will make this a beer that goes easy on craft beer newbie’s palate. The hops profile is noticeable but it compliments the beer without stealing the show and dominating your taste buds.MOD_webislands_220_488_85
  4. Anchor Steam Beer (California Common)Another beer with great history in the craft beer revolution, this beer might seem simple compared to some of the others I’ve mentioned, but that’s the point. Some peoples palates get completely thrown off when you hit it with too much too fast. If you are feeling overwhelmed by the beers you are trying, I suggest a switch to this. It has a malty base with only bare essential hopping, a benefit if suffering from hops fatigue. You get a sweet, caramel colored beer that drinks incredibly well anytime of day or year.steam-bio
  5. Firestone Walker DBA (Double Barrel Ale)This beer is also profiles with more of a malt base with only mild hops flavors, but I consider this beer to be an excellent platform beer. The well balanced flavors mingle nicely and can easily entice a drinker to see what other offerings might be brewed by these masters…which will eventually lead you to Union Jack, which in my opinion is kind of a big deal.DBA

The real question after reading over my list is, are these beers you agree with or have I lost all my marbles? The whole topic is subjective and open to multiple opinions. Depending on the tastes of the person who is trying craft beer for the first time you could very easily add brown ales, dubbels, barleywines, it’s never ending. We live in a time where getting craft beer is now as easy as walking to the corner store. The most important thing is to get people to make that leap, let them try anything and everything. Breweries and most bars in town are only too happy to pour you a taster. It’s easier than ever to find one that suits you and gets you started on the adventure of craft beer and the incredible journey that evolving your palate can take you on.

Cheers,

Tom

My Craft Beer Tour of Boston; How do you like dem Apples?

This past week I had the opportunity to spend time in Boston, Massachusetts. This was my first time visiting the city and I was not entirely sure what to expect from it. I knew, if nothing else, I’d have a good time visiting all the historical sites from the American Revolution and finally having the opportunity to see Fenway Park with my own eyes. From a purely tourist perspective, I was aware I’d have a full plate to keep myself busy. From the perspective of a Craft Beer Enthusiast, I had a whole separate agenda to occupy my nights with.

When one thinks of a craft beer mecca, Boston is probably not the first place that springs to the front of your mind. It’s very likely the first brewery you think of is Samuel Adams. After all, it says ‘Boston Lager’ right there in the name. However, this is a dramatic misconception as the craft beer scene in Massachusetts is a strong and vibrant one with close to sixty breweries in the state featuring a wide variety of styles. It is not simply a land of lagers, but home to a really diverse set of brewers who help to make the beer landscape very unique in the region.

Our first night in the city after spending all day on a plane from San Diego we decided to keep it low key and stick around the area of our hotel near Boston Common area. After getting an outstanding pizza at Sal’s on Tremont Street we walked around the corner and found Stoddard’s Food and Ale, 46 Temple Pl, emphasis on ale. We quickly found ourselves in love with the place and our new favorite bartender Alice, whose quick wit and great beer knowledge provided us with an excellent entry point to the craft beer scene of Boston. I had made a promise to myself that I’d always try new beers on this trip, nothing I could get back home. Alice helped point me in the right direction with a Jack’s Abby Hoponius Union, considered a hoppy lager, this served to get my palate ready for what was to come from brewers in Boston. I then proceeded to drink my way down their draft list…all in the name of research, I swear!

Just one of the fine bottles at Stoddards.

Just one of the fine bottles at Stoddards.

 

On Sunday afternoon, we made what could be considered an obligatory stop, but on a personal level was an absolute must. We stopped for a few quick beers at Bull & Finch Pub, also known as the “Cheers” bar. I grew up loving this show and had no reservations about dragging my wife who never watched a single episode to the bar that inspired the show. The taps had a few macro brewery offerings, but also a nice mix of local micro brews as well. If you plan to go, be forewarned that it’s always busy there and despite what the song has lead us all to believe, they have absolutely no idea what your name is, but at least they are nice about it.

Cheesy? Maybe, but still essential.

Cheesy? Maybe, but still essential.

For Sunday night we scheduled a brewery/bar tour from the Boston Beer Tour Group. This is a great way for out-of-towners to get a chance to explore city and some of its finest breweries and bars in the area with a meal included at one of the brew pubs. They offer different destinations depending on what day of the week and what time you choose. For a Sunday evening tour we got a pretty eclectic mix. Our first stop was Harpoon Brewery, 306 Northern Avenue, Boston 02210, they are located right on the waterfront which makes for a great backdrop for the brewery.

When you enter the brewery, which you can skip the massive line if you have signed up with Boston Beer Tours, you will climb the flight of stairs and find yourself in a massive beer hall. It’s an impressive sight with a lot of good energy in the room. We quickly ordered one of the three flights they offered as we waited for our 5:30pm tour to begin. It was a nice sampling of their IPA, Rye IPA, Dark and a tasty number from their barrel series called Citra Victorious, our favorite of Harpoons offerings. As for the tour itself, it’s a really nice one. Of course if you’ve done a brewery tour before there is a certain element of familiarity but it’s interesting nonetheless. What I found to be the best aspect of the tour is the private tasting room area where you get to sample everything that Harpoon has to offer and as much of it as you like in the time that you are permitted there during your tour. For the record, I had everything, and more than one pour on most of them.

The private tasting room.

The private tasting room.

The next stop on the tour was Boston Beer Works, a local franchise with two spots in the city. Ours was the location just across the street from TD Garden, home of the Bruins and Celtics. This is where we got our meals as well, a huge selection of gourmet pizzas that hit the spot. The beers they brew here were good, solid offerings, the most interesting being their blueberry ale which has actual blueberries floating throughout the beer from the carbonation, a very cool visual.

From there it was a short trip across the Charles River to visit Cambridge Brewing Company, 1 Kendall Square, Cambridge MA 02139. This spot whips up some really nice brews in a variety of styles from saisons and wild ales to big IPA’s. Some of the standouts were Flower Child IPA, Audacity of Hops and Benevolence, a American wild ale aged in bourbon barrels; boozy and delicious.

The last spot of the night was Meadhall, 4 Cambridge Center, Cambridge MA 02142, which is a truly exceptional sport for craft beer from all over the world. They have a huge tap list and an impressive bottle collection. From here we found so many unique craft beers from the region that it became a little hard to keep track of all that we had over the course of our time there. One beer that we did have that I’d like to point out was our first taste of America’s first and only trappist brewery: Spencer; a golden ale that tastes pretty damn close to its brothers on the other side of the Atlantic. And what would a visit to a place called Meadhall be without having my first taste of actual mead? Wow, if this is what Romans and Visigoths were drinking back in the day, it’s amazing they actually found the motivation to kill the hell out each other.

American Trappist; It's a thing now.

American Trappist; It’s a thing now.

On Monday we toured around Harvard and found a brew pub called John Harvard’s Brew House, it’s not an overwhelming selection but there is certainly something for everyone and it’s a nice space located in a large brick basement, a nice atmosphere for a drink. We would stick around Cambridge for the rest of the evening and would make our way back to Meadhall, this time to enjoy some dinner while continuing our exploration of the dense beer menu. The food was fantastic and one of our favorite bars on the trip.

Tuesday was the day we had marked for a journey down to the Jamaica Plains neighborhood. Our Uber driver urged us to not wonder around the streets and to call for a pick-up from the parking lot of our destination. So what was this destination located in such a dicey area of the Boston suburbs? Samuel Adams of course! The Brewery is located at 30 Germania St, Boston MA 02149. Whatever you may think of Sam Adams currently, there is little doubt they played a big part of the craft beer movement of the late 80’s and 90’s and on a personal level when I was living in Maryland and first began to venture away from macro beers Sam Adams played a big part in my learning what existed beyond Budweiser, Miller and Coors. With that said, obviously they have become so large that they now have to petition the Brewers Association on a yearly basis for the definition of ‘craft beer’ to be broadened so that they can still qualify to use that particular branding with their beers. This has caused me to question their legitimacy as well as the fact that they don’t even brew their beer in Boston…nor even in Massachusetts. Most beers with the Sam Adams label are, in fact, brewed in Pennsylvania. The brewery in Boston is mostly used for R&D purposes but when you visit Rome, you obviously have to at least take a look at the Pantheon. So we ventured to Sam Adams to see what is up. Honestly, the tour was pretty fun. They have a good group of people working there who keep things fun and lively and represent the brand well. They also pour a lot of beer on the tour. My biggest complaint was the simple fact that they didn’t have a dedicated tasting room so that I could indulge in some of the beers being created there. So I was sort of frustrated with that aspect of the day. So it’s a good thing I had another idea in my back pocket, which turned into a highlight of the trip.

You like this or you hate this.

You like this or you hate this.

After getting picked up by another Uber driver we had him head to Everett, MA which is right next to Charlestown, which if you watched “The Town” you know is home to all sorts of bank robbers and a skanky version of Blake Lively. Fortunately Everett is home to Night Shift Brewing and hands down my favorite brewery of the trip. Night Shift, in many ways, reminds me of a smaller version of SoCal favorite The Bruery, with a wide variety of styles and aged offerings to choose from. Amongst my favorites were two Berliner Weisse style beers and a Belgian Quad that had been aged two years in wine barrels. Ever Weisse and the Cape Codder Weisse along with the Quad Reserve and Jojo, an American Style IPA with some very interesting fruit notes, really made this place stand out and I expect their reputation to continue to grow as they expand operation in the newly opened location at  87 Santilli Highway, Everett MA. If you happen to be in the area and you swing by I hope you see Katrina because she has some of the best dance movers ever and if you are lucky you might get to enjoy the spectacle that she creates. There are lots of fun times to be had at this fast rising regional brewer.

Night Shift is fantastic!

Night Shift is fantastic!

The next day we spent hanging around Fenway Park and seeing the Red Sox do some business against the Braves and while beers were drunk, Harpoon IPA mostly, it wasn’t anything I’ve not already mentioned in this post. We also spent a lot of time partaking in historical tours and finding time to eat crazy fresh clam chowder and lobster rolls. The lobster mac and cheese from James Hook’s is absolutely phenomenal in case you were wondering. Or perhaps I should say it’s wicked awesome.

In conclusion I was insanely impressed with Boston, if it wasn’t for the absolutely atrocious winters and abysmally hot summers I would actually consider living there. I love the history and the biggest surprise was how nice the people were to us, I expected it to be much more like New York or Philadelphia. Perhaps we just got lucky. What is even more impressive than the city is that it is nice to see another state with a strong and growing craft beer scene. That said, a east coast IPA still doesn’t measure up to what we offer here in San Diego, that is not a bad thing, it just means I’m always really excited when I get home and I know what kind of beers await me.

Last one before I get my West Coast IPA.

Last one before I get my West Coast IPA.

Have you been to Boston? Any places I need to add to my list for next time? Or if you plan to be there and you use my experiences to help drink your way around the city, let me know how it turns out for you.

Slainte,

Tom

Geeks vs. Snobs : View through a Sore Eye.

Brian from Sore Eye Sports was the very first person who reached out to me when I first started this blog just over two years ago. It was exciting to know that someone who wasn’t already my friend was reading this blog. He also helped me to feel like a part of the San Diego Craft Beer Community. In essence, he was the perfect Craft Beer Geek to make me feel welcome to the club as opposed to someone who would say something along the lines of ‘why are you even bothering to do this’. Brian was also gracious enough to include me on the tasting panel for the first ever Sore Eye Cup, award to the best beer in San Diego as nominated by the drinkers of craft beer. Over the past two years I’ve had the chance to develop a pretty good friendship with the guy. I enjoy when we get to drink and talk about our favorite beers together. In short, Brain is a great guy. He has a unique point of view and he has the tendency to word things in such a way that you can’t help but laugh at how clever the guy is. So of course I asked him for his thoughts on the subject of Craft Beer Geeks vs. Craft Beers Snobs.

Here is what Brian had to say:

“We’re in the middle of the greatest craft beer boom of modern times and there are lines being drawn in the sand with the levels of fandom there are. Two of the most recent labels are craft beer geek and craft beer snob. To me, the craft beer snob is a person that’s convinced themselves they are on a higher plane than the average craft beer geek. To the snob, the geeks of the world are cluttering their once elitist club. Whether the snob has built their attitude of condescension based on craft knowledge or a desire to seem more highbrow than those around them, it is a detriment to the overall craft beer scene/industry. The craft beer scene, at least here in San Diego, is based on community involvement and inclusion rather than an exclusion. The craft beer snob would be content if not one more person decided they loved the snob’s favorite brewery, an attitude that only helps themselves, not the brewery they claim to adore nor the culture they claim to be involved in.

The craft beer geek is a better, friendlier fan. A knowledgeable person that truly enjoys the intricacies of different beer styles, flavors, and the craft beer culture. They are enthusiast about breweries and beers they love but don’t look down upon those that have differing opinions. The geek welcomes new and uneducated drinkers into the fold, always happy to discuss what someone likes and help them learn what beers they would enjoy. They are the fans breweries want to cultivate, people that will share their positive feelings and experiences with anyone that will listen, not dismiss or discredit the opinions of others that have less knowledge or experience.

While the craft beer snob may think they are the upper echelon of beer drinkers their elitist attitude is actually demeaning the industry and culture they attest to being an expert in. The craft beer geek embraces this fascination of the industry and culture, welcomes new craft beer fans into the fold with open arms and is the actual fuel behind the explosive craft beer growth we are experiencing.”

Brian says it all pretty perfectly. You may note that this is another in  a series of pro ‘Craft Beer Geek’ posts. When I  first started this little series of posts, with the help of others from the San Diego Craft Beer scene, I didn’t solicit for only pro geek sentiments. This is what people have in their hearts. All that being said, I have no wish for the perception to be that I don’t want to hear from those whose opinions differ from mine or the other gents who has shared their thoughts. The few self-professed Craft Beer Snobs that I know, did not wish to share their thoughts, but that doesn’t mean I don’t want to hear from other folks. If you are a beer snob, I would be happy to share your thoughts on this platform. Please contact me, I’m easy to find and I will promise you a fair opportunity to make your point of view known.

If you’d like to check out more from the awesome Brian, go Sore Eye Sports for his blog, and find him on twitter and instagram @mkbain. He’s got some rad stuff planned for the summer and if you meet him, try to pry a bottle of his excellent homebrew, Chinout Stout, from him. You’ll be happy that you did.

"Come with us if you want to drink!"

“Come with us if you want to drink!”

Cheers,

Tom

Geeks vs. Snobs: Dr. Q makes his diagnosis!

Dr. Gonzalo Quintero Ed.D. is a smart guy.  He is a three time graduate of San Diego State University and anyone who wants to be in school for that long is either really smart or clinically insane. Luckily for us he’s not insane. Dr. Q, as he is popularly known in the Craft Beer community, is also the owner and co-founder of Craft Beer Tasters, LLC. He is not a James Bond villain, don’t get confused. He is one of the good guys, a true ambassador for the world of Craft Beer. As a Doctor of Education he is making it easier for people new to the craft beer scene to become informed consumers and his passion and enthusiasm for Craft Beer is evident when you meet him. Being an ambassador, it should come as no surprise that he is an incredibly friendly and engaging person to have a conversation with, not just about beer, he’s really good with 80’s pop culture too.

Since I had the chance to get to know a little about the man while he was my instructor at SDSU’s Business of Craft Beer Marketing class, I would have been foolish not to ask for his opinion on the topic at hand. Plus he’s smarter than me. He has three degrees to prove it. Here is what Dr. Q had to say on the topic:

“There’s room for everyone in the craft beer scene. Whether you were ‘here from the beginning’ or brand new on the scene I guarantee you the beer doesn’t care, it just wants to be respected.

That sentiment, in actuality, is a personal assertion. If I had to choose a camp, I’d join the ranks of the geeks. I’m a champion of the craft beer community, to be certain, but I would never turn down a beer offered to me, even the macroiest of the macros. I wouldn’t turn my nose up to it, I would never talk down to someone for their preferences for macros, and I would never educate someone who didn’t literally ask for it.

The snob likes to exude an air of authority, but you don’t win friends with salad, and nobody likes a know it all. Why? Because rational people knows there’s no such thing. Oh you met Karl Strauss. That’s great, but that doesn’t make you better. It may make your breadth of knowledge wider, but it doesn’t make you better.

A person geeks out for personal reasons. I imagine the craft beer geek is somewhat like a golfer, only challenging themselves with their knowledge and skill. Whereas the snob is like an overzealous prize fighter trying to talk their way into greatness.

It takes all kind, and there’s room for all, but geek out more than you snob, it’s more fun that way.”

I love what Dr. Q says about being a ‘champion of the craft beer community’ and what follows is something really important, you don’t want to be ‘that guy’. You know the guy I’m talking about. I’m talking about the guy who gets invited to a barbecue and then sneers in disgust when the host offers him an ice cold Bud Lite. Don’t be that guy. Remember, you may have made the choice to only support craft beers, but you show that support with your wallet. Your friend hosting the barbecue didn’t make that choice, he just wants people to hang out and have fun. Be gracious, say thanks and drink the beer that your buddy paid for. This is the thin line between Geek and Snob.

Do not make this face when your friend offers you a Bud Lite!

Do not make this face when your friend offers you a Bud Lite!

Special thanks to Dr. Q for taking the time to share his thoughts on the topic. If for some silly reason you have never been, go take a look Craft Beer Tasters LLC, Dr. Q is great with daily postings. Right now you can join him for an amazing trip to Tijuana to check out the rapidly growing craft beer scene in Mexico. Click here for more details so you can get in on the fun. You can also find him in the usual places, @craftbeertasters on Twitter and Instagram. Seriously, you should go on the trip to Tijuana, it sounds fantastic!

Next we’ll hear from my good friend Brian from Sore Eye Sports!

 

Cheers,

Tom

Geeks vs Snobs : Lets hear from the Beard…Craft Beerd that is.

Odds are that even if you’ve not yet had the chance to meet the man, you know his art. It adorns the walls of some of San Diego’s finest craft beer bars and breweries. He has a style as unique as the beers that are brewed in America’s Finest City and like the brewers themselves; he is something of a visionary. Rudy Pollorena Jr. is the creator and artist of Craft Beerd where he has blended two of his two passions, graphic design and craft beer, into exceptional pieces of art the showcase the true craft beer spirit of San Diego. Rudy’s designs are truly fantastic images that stick in your brain when you see them. His “2014 Beer Matrix” is just one fine example of the passion he puts into his art. He is also one of the nicest guys you will meet and so I was curious what he thought about our topic of geek vs. snob and here is what he had to say:

“‘Craft Beer Geeks’ are people who have fun with the craft beer culture: from the beer to the people, to many of the craft beer centric events. They are excited about this world and want to share it with everyone.

‘Craft Beer Snobs’ make a point to think they know everything about craft beer, from tasting, to composition, down to the history of beer – always reinforcing that their opinion is ‘right’. They may come off as ‘dicks’, but as long as you’re ready for their archetype, you should be OK. Keep an open ear and a open mind to potential beer speak douchiness.

I’d like to add another category ‘Craft Beer Ambassador/Advocate’ – someone who is an advocate of craft beer culture, makes a point to give praise where praise is due down to the breweries, the people in the industry and will go out of their way to educate others on what they know…and if said ‘Craft Beer Ambassador/Advocate’ doesn’t know something in particular, they will go out of their way to find out…and continue to educate. They are patient with young blood craft beer drinkers, but welcome them with open arms, a smile and a beer.”

I wear my Craft Beerd gear in Belgium so those monks will know what's up!

I wear my Craft Beerd gear in Belgium so those monks will know what’s up!

I think Rudy makes an exceptional point about the snobs; If you know that’s who you are going to run into you can at least prepare yourself. I don’t want to come across like I’m saying that craft beer snobs are horrible people. Aaron Hernandez is a horrible person. OJ Simpson is a horrible person. The Kardashians…. well, you get the point. Craft Beers Snobs are simply misplacing their energy. Energy that could be better spent by taking all the knowledge they do posses to bring people into the club, not to use it as the velvet ropes that keep the masses outside.

Thank you to Rudy for taking the time to contribute to the discussion. You can find him all over San Diego at craft beer festivals and brewery events. Stop by, say hi and buy a t-shirt, print or his new sticker packs. Or if you’re shy, just click on his website, Craftbeerd.com and get your gear shipped right to your house. You can also find him on twitter @craftbeerdSD and craftbeerd on Instagram and Facebook so follow along for info on all the new designs as the Craft Beerd continues to grow!

Rudy also mentioned “Craft Beer Ambassador”, which happens to be a bit of foreshadowing as the next person we will be hearing from is one of the best ambassadors to helping people cross into the world of craft beer drinking that I have ever had the opportunity the meet, Dr. Q from Craft Beer Tasters.

See you then.

Cheers,

Tom

 

Geeks vs. Snobs : Breaking it down with Cody from Three B Zine!

I love conversation.

Specifically, I love craft beer conversation.

Rarely have I had more interesting conversations than in the past week since I first broached the topic of Craft Beer Geek vs. Craft Beer Snob. People have a lot of interesting thoughts and ideas on the topic. This is something people want to talk about.

When I first began to write this post I had a completely different idea in mind. I had planned to write my usual style blog but this time I had would include some insightful quotes from my fellow San Diego Beer Bloggers/Personalities. It was going to be epic. Until I checked my email box and saw that they had all written extremely well thought out and expertly written essays on the topic. I attempted to edit them to fit what I was trying to do, but when someone hands you a bucket of gold you don’t put down the bucket and just take what fits in your hand. That is why I will spend the next few days posting their comments in their entirety.

First up is Cody, the founder, President, C.E.O., C.F.O. and Human Resources officer for the awesome website Three B Zine. Three B Zine not only covers the Craft Beer scene here in San Diego, they also talk Bikes and Bands. If that’s not enough the man also finds time for podcasting, which is worth your time to check out. I can’t recommend his site enough – check for the Craft Beer and a Movie Pairing entry.

Here now are Cody’s thoughts on Craft Beer Geek vs. Craft Beer Snob; what’s the difference to you?

“I believe that there is in fact a line between a beer geek and a beer snob. Both the geek and the snob share an obvious passion for craft beer, including in most cases knowledge of style differences, the ability to taste and understand beer and possibly even some ideas on brewing techniques.

The obvious difference that I see is that where the beer geek uses their passion and experience to teach and bring new people into the beer scene, the beer snob uses this to keep people with less experience out of their world as an exclusionary tactic.

The beer geek is passionate and knowledgeable and they tend to use this knowledge and love of the craft to share beer with people around them in hopes of spreading the good word on craft beer and to teach others about their passion. They will speak using terms universally understood and are more welcoming to newcomers in the craft beer world.

The beer snob on the other hand, in some cases, will use this knowledge and experience as a way to keep themselves above people they see are lesser in the beer world in a way of keeping new people out of the area they feel they own. The definition of a snob is, “A person who imitates, cultivates, or slavishly admires social superiors and is condescending or overbearing to others.” In other words, will put down people who they see know less than them and make them feel silly for even trying to join their world.

It is unfortunate that this mindset is so alive and present in our beer community, but it exists in all arenas. In movies, comic books, music and even food “scenes” this activity is very common. What people, geeks and snobs of any specific thing, should understand is that everyone has to start somewhere in their learning experience. The learning experience is what makes it fun and exciting and we as beer people should work to teach and expand the world of craft beer, and not shut people out.”

A big thank you to Cody for taking the time to do this. I love his perspective here. What do you think? Agree or disagree on anything? We’d love to hear it, please share your comments with us. If you want to read more of Cody’s work head over to his site, Three B Zine, take a look and download his podcast! You can also find him @threebzine on Twitter and Cody_ThreeBZine on Instagram.

Next time will hear from Craft Beerd himself, Rudy Pollorena Jr.!

Cheers,

Tom

Geek or Snob?

Geek or Snob?

Spread the Craft Beer Love.

I am a beer geek.

I admit it. I’ve come to terms with it. I’m a little bit proud of it.

I am a lot proud of it actually.

Being a beer geek is not a bad thing.

Except for when it is.

When is that? It’s when the line between beer geek and beer snob blurs and pretentiousness blossoms.

That probably sounds a little strange so let me provide a little context to help clarify.

First of all, I prefer to call myself a ‘craft beer enthusiast’ and from here out, that’s what you’ll see.

I am a craft beer drinker. Ninety-nine point nine percent of the time that I’m out and about I drink craft beer produced by independently owned small breweries, most of them being local to San Diego. There are a lot of reasons why I am a craft beer enthusiast; I love the variety of styles, I love the complex flavors and creativity involved in craft beer, I love supporting small businesses, I love supporting my local economy. The list goes on and on. One thing that has come about from my becoming a craft beer enthusiast is an increased knowledge on a wide variety of beer related topics and I love having discussions with people I meet at bars. It’s a fantastic social lubricant and you get to meet some fascinating people. I can talk about beer for hours on end and it doesn’t get old.

For most other people who could be considered craft beer enthusiasts, I see them with the same level of enjoyment that I have. Craft beer can bring people together and it should, after all, we do live in a community with one another. I want more people to experience this. I want people to come across the line from only drinking macro breweries (Budweiser, Miller, Coors etc.) and stick their toe in the cool refreshing water that is craft beer.

However, I have recently been witnessing a rise in craft beer snobbery. They would prefer drinkers of macro brews to stay where they are and leave more craft beer for the ‘cool kids’. This sort of behavior causes a rift between beer lovers that threatens to grow wider over time if not nipped in the bud. I’ve now seen and read bad behavior on both sides, people sniping back and forth at one another, insults and vulgarities flying. It’s not cool and I find it counter intuitive to the whole craft beer movement.

On a national level the sales of macro brews has stalled. Craft beer sales continue to grow, though still only account for roughly 7% all beer sales in the country. We want that number to go up. We want craft brewing to continue its revolution across the country. For this to happen, we need more people buying and drinking craft beer. We, as craft beer enthusiasts, can play a part in this by using our knowledge to help out a guy or gal who doesn’t know the difference between ales and lagers. Getting into the craft beer scene can be a very intimidating prospect for the average person. They do not deserve to be mocked or shamed because they don’t yet know the things that maybe we take a little bit for granted. This is the kind of person who simply needs a little guidance.

It is usually when I venture out of my usual rotation of bars that I’ll witness some of the bad behavior of craft beer drinkers. What happens when a newbie has a bad experience with a craft beer bar? It’s very likely they are not coming back. So the bar has just lost a potential customer and any drinking buddies this person has. More significant is that you might have just turned them away from craft beer overall. This leads to the perception that craft beer drinkers are not only snobs, but a bunch of elitist assholes as well. This is the antithesis of what craft beer is all about.

In San Diego, the vast majority of bartenders and craft beer patrons around the county are insanely helpful, patient and supportive of helping a craft beer newbie find a great beer that works for their still developing palate. There are about a dozen bars in my general area that I will frequent regularly not just because they have great beers, but the people who pour them are so great to everyone who comes in, from regulars to newbies.

As I’ve said, this is very uncommon but I’ve seen just enough of it recently to know that I don’t like it. I want to encourage craft beer enthusiasts to try and help out a newbie whenever they can. We should want more people enjoying this movement that we are so passionate about. We should not be trying to put up velvet ropes as a signal that someone isn’t cool enough to be part of the club. We can leave that type of behavior for the wine snobs.

So help out a newbie when you can. Let you craft beer geek flag fly and help spread the revolution of craft beer. It’s changing lives one glass at a time.

Cheers,

Tom