Thursday, June 27, 2013

Don't Be Douchey—Regardless What Esquire Says

I love great beer. I do not, however give a rat's ass what you're drinking. I care even less about persuading you to drink Fantôme instead of that bottle of Michelob Ultra. Don't get me wrong, I'm happy to talk about beer with anyone, and I'd be happy to help someone pick a beer other than a Bud Light—If I'm asked to. But, bringing you to the light side, ain't my bag., however, seems to think conversion of the wicked and ignorant is important. In Aaron Goldfarb's article How to Throw a Craft Beer Party for Normal People, the author lays out clear directions for brainwashing the uninitiated by—as the title implies—inviting your friends over and forcing them to drink the beers you think they should drink, instead of just hanging out and having a good time.

That's sounds like fun.

Goldfarb first suggests that we should make them care. This is a simple task, just "…use your geekiness: pull out an anecdote about a brewery, mention the ingredients, and explain how the beer differs from the 30 racks in the supermarket." 

Yes, now you've got them. I'm not sure how any of that information translates into 'caring', but apparently, knowing that Fritz Maytag's family founded the appliance company, Maytag, and they also make blue cheese, is the key.

The next suggestion is to make craft beer less intimidating by "…by opening bottles of everything and pouring small tastes for everyone. This way, people won't feel bad if they hate something in particular, because it'll just be an ounce or two…" 

We're talking about adults, right? Should we also cut up their food so it's easier to eat?

Next up, for our intrepid beer-snob host is to compare his or her amazing selection of craft beer to the stuff the guest are used to. For example, "For the vast majority who drink rice- and corn-packed mass-market dreck, give them a better example of the style: an all-malt lager like the Brooklyn Brewery's…For the ladies who like Blue Moon, a vastly superior Allagash White will fit the bill nicely… for that so-called ale lover, offer him a big, boozy Belgian. A nice, sweet dubbel like Westmalle…" 

Or, you could just put all the beer—including the rice- and corn-packed mass-market dreck —in a cooler full of ice and let them pick what they want. 

Blindfolding your guest is Goldfarb's next suggestion. "For the friends who claim they only like Bud or only like Miller or only Coors, have them try all three side-by-side without knowing which is which. Guaranteed, they'll pick the "wrong" one as their favorite."

Yes, because people love to be proven wrong and to be shown a fool. Publicly. 

The number five suggestion is to help the guest with descriptors, according to Goldfarb, "… ask, hmmm, isn't this Ballast Point Sculpin so "tropical"? Doesn’t Sixpoint Resin have a "dank" aroma, you know, like a sack of weed? Oooh, can you taste how this Fantome Hiver is just packed with "horse blanket"? Teach them that being an accomplished beer geek is mostly about lexiconical one-upmanship."

Okay, I'm just going to come out and say this. If you do this to your friends I am going to come to your house and punch you in the face. That is one phrase I don't ever want to hear —'lexiconical one-upmanship"—ugh. Like beer, don't like beer, just stop being pretentious about it. 

Second to last is that, as the host, you should pull out something rare. I'm going to quote almost the whole blurb, because it's so juicy.
"Make it into a little ceremony with some practiced patter. "I've been saving this for a special occasion, but I'd really like you guys to try it tonight." Then give them the stats: "This came out in 2009, and only 1300 bottles were released. You could only get it if you waited in an hours-long line at the brewery." Prove to them how highly-acclaimed it is by pulling out your iPhone and showing them, "Look! It gets a perfect 100 on and is Beer Advocate's #25 beer in the world!" They'll be salivating as you peel off the special wax-dipped top, pop the cap with your best Areaware bottle opener, and give them a thick, luscious pour of The Bruery's Black Tuesday. "Lucky you! You’ve just had a beer most people would kill to try." They'll have completely forgotten the beer by morning, but they'll remember the spectacle."
You should also tell them how much money you make and maybe show them your "giant" penis, too.

Lastly, number seven—remember it's a party.

I think it's a little too late for that.


  1. Have a beer, relax.

    You realize my whole piece is written as a joke, right?

    Still, I'm impressed you managed to write a response piece that was longer than my initial piece.

    1. I gotta be honest Aaron, it didn't come off as a joke, at least not to me. To me—and maybe I'm in the minority—it came off a little snobby. Let me use a joke as an analogy to prove my point.

      Q: How do you know if someone is a beer snob?

      A: Don't worry, they'll tell you.

    2. Fair enough. Then I might have failed to accomplish what I was attempting to do.

      It seems like it's become virtually impossible to write about craft beer without some people chirping up and saying, "What a SNOB!" So perhaps I need to figure out a better writing style to overcome that...or just say, fuck it, I am a beer snob.

    3. Truth be told Aaron, I'm in the minority in my approach to beer. I'm not much for the evangelizing of craft beer, but there are A LOT of folks out there who are. So, you'll probably end up being on the winning team in the end anyhow!

      My philosophy is that beer don't need to be justified—craft or macro—and it surely shouldn't be hipster-ized. Drinking what you like is just as cool as drinking some new-fangled brew from Tanzania.

      Thank you however for taking the time to read the blog and open up a conversation!

    4. You know, the funny thing is, I don't really consider myself an evangelist or an advocate either. (Says the guy writing craft beer pieces for a major men's magazine!) I don't really care what any one drinks--the more people drinking swill, the more good stuff for me!--I just want the masses to know about all the glorious options out there. So I guess if that makes me a snob or an evangelist, so be it.

      Always good to have conversations with people who disagree with you...and perhaps learn something from each other.

    5. Really, Teri? That's the best you could do? If your going to insult my manhood, do it with a little panaché.

    6. By the way Aaron, you owe Teri a beer.

  2. Is it so wrong to try and share something you love so much with friends? Say you DID take a day off in the middle of the week so you could drive 4 hours to Vermont to buy Heady Topper. Yes, you tell your friends, it's expensive and yes you should drink it out of the can. Relating the journey to acquire the beer, its online acclaim and its rarity across the US all make for a fascinating little story.

    Is it wrong to be so excited you that you want to share that experience with friends? Or are we so hip now that we should rip the labels off of all our bottles?

    I'm with Aaron on this one - have a beer, relax.

    1. No, none of that is wrong, and it is a great story. An I love telling stories about beer. That's what this blog is all about. But I'm not trying to convince someone who either doesn't like beer, or doesn't care about beer to accept it into their heart. That's a waste of time. When I have a party, I want to have a good time with my buds, not bore them with beer-geekery.

      As far as being hip—what sounds more "hip":

      A. "Hey I've got a cooler of beer over there. It's got some New Belgium. Mikkellers and Sierras, oh and some Bud Light and Blue Moons. Help yourself."

      B. "Put down that Yuengling. You've got to try this. It's a Pale Stout that uses hops grown exactly on the 48th parallel. It was aged in a fair-trade coffee can for, like, eight months. Here have a sip—but just a little one—because they only made one pint."

  3. I'm so cool I only drink beers that haven't been brewed yet, by breweries that don't exist. Who'd like to touch me?

  4. When the beer becomes more important than the people you have chosen to be with and the where and when you've chosen to be part of, you don't understand neither beer, nor people.

  5. Craig, why do you care? i see the joke behind it... however, complaining about offering smaller portions to people is pretty lame. looks like you just wanted to fit in a joke about cutting food --which was hilarious (you see that i'm being sarcastic, right?). I think we've all been to parties where we picked a beer we knew nothing about, tasted it and regretted we picked that one. so should we drink it anyways? set it down and walk away? --or how about get to know what we like. yeah, sounds terrible to make an informed decision.

    1. Are you really that concerned about finishing or not finishing a beer at a party that you need a seminar on craft beer?

    2. if someone takes 6 different beers throughout the night, takes two sips of each before setting them down, wouldn't you say that's a tad 'douchey'?

  6. How do we know that's the REAL Aaron Goldfarb responding?

    If he's going to claim the article is a joke, then THE JOKE FUCKING FAILS! If you can't tell something is satire, then it fails to be satire.

    Fine, okay, the article is satire, but who is the joke on? Beer geeks or BMC swillers? It makes both parties look stupid: craft beer enthusiasts come across as snobs that must convert all their friends and regular BMC drinkers come across as inept morons or alcoholics.

    Thanks for nothing, Aaron.

  7. Three thoughts. First, I love love love a good rant. Rants shouldn't be subjected to logical critique, however; one should let the emotion wash over the body like a cooling ocean wave.

    Second, I don't find the original piece especially funny--it seems more like comedy was used to spice up a comment about how to introduce people to complex beer flavors. That main point isn't ironic or parodic or satirical.

    Third, I think the main point is actually quite valuable. While I have sympathy for Craig's main critique (parties are fun, knock off the educational piece), my experience is that people are dying to understand beer. It's gotten so that people are as anxious about it as they are wine. People who are interested in and knowledgeable about beer can really throw them a lifeline. They are happier to have flavors pointed out and styles explained and everything demystified a bit.

    But I do love the rant.

    1. Everything was going perfect until that last bit—where you disagreed with me.

  8. For what it's worth I thought this edition of Drink Drank was amazing. Completely agree with Craig on this.

  9. I was with Jeff until "my experience is that people are dying to understand beer" as for all my years of discussing good beer and all my writing about the subject I am never so struck as I am now how little the vast majority of people are about good beer or good wine for that matter. Maybe it's a cultural difference or a personal one but you turn people on to good beer like you kill rats. You leave enough bait around and make it easy for people to do the job themselves. 73% of my actual discussion of good beer with non-nerds is entirely made up of "try this... you might like it" as I hand them a beer. Having witness others seemingly on a personal path to marketing consultancy preciously pour and comment upon tiny glasses of beer at uncomfortable parties having flavours pointed out... well, can you imagine? It's like a training ground for the future shunned, railway hobbyists or audiophiles - which are really the same thing.

    1. I just re-read this. How did you calculate 73% percent? That's realllllly specific.