No scrubs (or snobs)

Back when being beardless was not a choice, I was a music snob. Not totally unwarranted in the time of LFO, the Cher song with the auto-tune, and TLC’s classic exclusionary ode to discontent with scrubs. I mean even the unflappable Pearl Jam had a hit that was hard to take in Last Kiss. Still, I was know-nothing teenager yet to be in a decent band myself (no offense friends with whom I rocked but we all made better music apart than together). In one of his many moments of sharing wisdom, my Dad informed me that the world had more critics than available open positions. The aforementioned response was one that stuck with me and was reinforced as I tried to make music myself and get people to care. Humility abounds when the only response you get after a show is from drunk guy from your college telling you that you need to try to sound more like Nirvana…..and the Grateful Dead. Noted.

Luckily, I had matured slightly by the time I hit my craft beer stride. The beer snobbery, often mentioned or warned against in articles, was present in slogans like don’t “Don’t drink crap beer”. These were mostly playful things and I have generally found the beer people to be inclusive and encouraging. Still, when discovering a new world, there is a tendency toward self-proclaimed expertise. I would sample and rank and establish poll position of beers, bars, breweries, and styles. I also made my purchase decisions based on ratings from popular sites or hype from other craft beer zealots. Snobbery is a subtle beast indeed.

I have heard it said that if you can boil water, you can brew beer. I brewed a batch at Barleycorn in Natick, MA as part of a team building event with some lovely folks from work. The results included a holiday ale that two of my roommates blame for giving them a violent case of beer flu. Nevermind that the beer had been in hibernation in the back of the fridge for many months and they drank it at 3AM after they had run out of everything else. I concede the beer was not great despite the expert guidance of our hosts. I’d love to say that this experience gave me perspective that led to greater respect for beer and the efforts involved in making it. Perhaps it did and I am only realizing it now?   

My road to beerdom has definitely seen a few drain pours and more than a few lackluster pints. In fact, my beer time bestie just texted me last night about how the ever-expanding offering has warped our sense of greatness. He said, “I wish there was a good way to delineate between palate fatigue/spoilage, recipe/volume change and new entries changing boundaries. At the same time, eff all that and keep it coming!” The latter is where I encourage us to spend our time. A great band once proclaimed “They can’t all be zingers.” One of my least favorite samples is my sister-in-law’s favorites (she has a discerning palate so maybe I’m wrong). So appreciate what happened to make your pint full, enjoy the moments regardless of the beer’s rating, and join me in championing beer. Yeah, keep it coming indeed.  

Footnote: Fresh hops ale consumed while considering and writing this post included Founders Harvest Ale and Lagunitas Born Yesterday Pale Ale.

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