Are Beer Snobs Ruining Craft Beer?

I am sure you have heard the adage that craft beer is 99% asshole-free. Well, just like 1% of the world controls 90% of the wealth, the 1% of craft beer assholes-let’s call them beer snobs-are contradicting the ethos and message of inclusion and hospitality the beer industry is attempting to foster. In order to make craft beer for everyone, we need to ditch the beer snobbery. Not only is beer snobbery bad for craft beer, it erodes a person’s soul one snide comment at a time.

What is a Beer Snob?

Photo courtesy of the Brewer’s Association at CraftbBeer.com

A beer snob is someone who looks down their Kwak glass at you. They judge your from their ivory barstool and make you feel inferior for liking what you like. They act as though their craft beer experiences far exceed those of anyone else because they knew about every great beer before it was cool.

Why Are Beer Snobs Bad?

There are varying degrees of beer snobs out there populating online beer groups and forums. They smugly belly up to taproom bars and judge everything. This ridiculous judgement is sucking the joy and life force out of craft beer.

First and foremost, these pedantic know-it-alls make craft beer feel a lot like junior high school. Beer Snobs lord their precious knowledge over you like a lonely and less affable Cliff Clavin. This results in exclusion-similar to how most of us felt when we weren’t allowed to sit at the cool kids table in the school cafeteria. Oh, yes, I remember looking at that table thinking that their food must taste so much better because they are all wearing Girbaud jeans and shirts from The Gap. I also remember first getting into craft beer and feeling that same sense of wanting to belong. It gave me pause about whether or not this was a community I wanted to be a part of.

The second reason that beer snobs are bad is that they embody the one element of being Minnesotan I hate. Beer snobs are insufferably passive-aggressive. They will find any reason they can to one-up what you. They say things like, “Oh, I remember when I liked brown ales.” They make sure you know that whatever you are into, they found it first back when it was awesome. “Oh, yes, I liked a Gose four years ago, but now they are everywhere and not cool.”

Is it cool that you have tried a lot of beers? Sure. That is all well and good. However, just because your thumb is a calloused scepter of judgement thanks to your 15,000 Untappd check-ins does not give you the right to make my craft beer experience less than yours. As a matter of fact, no two craft beer experiences are alike because no two palates are alike. Unless you have Doc Brown on speed dial, there is no way in hell you can truly tell me that the 2008 Darkness is categorically better than the 2019 variety.

Lastly, beer snobs seem to have a troubling lack of empathy. Everyone starts from a novice level of beer knowledge and that is just a fact. Even Michael Jackson, the Beer Hunter (Albus Dumbledore of beer knowledge) didn’t burst forth from his mother’s loins with an innate ability to detect diacetyl. He once probably ordered a beer that wouldn’t even get a 1 out of 5 on Untappd and enjoyed the hell out of it.

I suspect that the beer snobs who lack empathy for a craft beer novice do so because they see a snapshot of what they used to be. They, too, remember feeling vulnerable and clueless about beer. This feeling of inadequacy manifested into a vitriolic quest to make others feel exactly as stupid as they did back in their formative craft beer drinking years. Well, congrats, asshat, you unlocked the achievement of bratty 7 year-old.

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Beer Geeks Will Inherit The Earth

How do we change this? How do we get rid of that 1% and make craft beer 100% asshole-free? I have an idea. Let’s agree to replace beer snobs with beer geeks. Beer geeks are excited about all craft beer. A beer geek understands that everyone likes what they like and that is ok. A beer geek remembers what it was like to start out on this journey. However, rather than being bitter about their lack of innate knowledge at the outset of their quest for beer knowledge, they can appreciate how they have grown. That growth shows itself in a desire to want to celebrate their beer knowledge with others in a positive and convivial way.

A few beer geeks at the Homebrew Con in Minneapolis, MN.

By replacing beer snobs with beer geeks we ensure that craft beer can be a welcoming atmosphere for all people. There are so many underrepresented demographics in craft beer: females, Latinos, and African-Americans to name a few. These lacking demographics show themselves in both brewery staffs and patrons in taprooms. If there is one thing that will go a long way in raising the percentages of these groups and making them feel like they belong, it is someone reaching out and welcoming them to the table. It takes someone to keep front and center the notion that craft beer is about bringing people together, no matter how much they know about this amazing drink.

So, next time you are sharing a conversation and a pint, remember the golden rule: treat others the way you want to be treated. Also, know that it is ok to geek out about whatever beer that makes you happy. Prost!

Dan Beaubien has been involved with Beerploma since 2014 although his passion for craft beer dates back to 2006 when he started traveling for beer.  Dan mostly covers craft beer events, festivals, brewery openings/releases, and beer reviews. Dan has a soft spot in his heart for authentic British Style ales, IPAs, and all things barrel-aged.  If you have any questions or comments about this article feel free to email Dan at dan.beaubien@beerploma.com .