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Don’t know the difference between a beer geek and a beer snob? It’s easy to predict (think Comic Book Guy), but Sam Calagione, founder of Dogfish Head Brewery, gave a pretty good explanation during his salon at Savor this year:
There’s beer geeks and there’s beer snobs, and I’m a card-carrying, dyed-in-the-wool member of the beer geek community. How I differentiate between a beer geek and a beer snob is this: they could have an equal amount of knowledge about beer; they could have equally awesome palates; [they] can articulate everything about the qualities of beer; [and they can] tell you the history of brewing styles. Their knowledge might be the same. But a beer geek loves beer because he or she loves beer, and they want to learn more always, try new beers, and share that with the people they love. Whereas beer snobs try to know as much as they can about beer as a power point and to lord it over people, or to stick out as an expert in a field of neophytes.
Later that very night, our “neophyte” friend Beth was insulted for mistakenly calling the beer she was trying a “Malbec.” The snob rudely commented, “That’s a maibock. It’s beer, not wine.”
The Lagerheads have seen this kind of disdain before and call it The Beer Snob Paradox. We don’t get why some beer enthusiasts try to be so exclusive when 97% of the brewing operations in the United States are small, independent craft breweries, but those breweries’ combined beer sales only account for about 5% of the total market share. It is essential to the livelihood of craft beer that more and more people get turned on to it, and this can only happen with a more welcoming, inclusive attitude from those who claim to be most enthusiastic about the stuff.
It’s likely that with all the beer happenings in DC this week, you are bound to be unfortuante enough to run into a beer snob or two, depending on whether or not they deem the event worthy of their attendance. Whether it’s a story from this week or the past, we hope you will post some first-hand examples of beer elitism in the comments section.
One way to arm yourself against snobbery is to do some cramming. A little knolwedge goes a long way in the narrow, beady eyes of a beer snob. The Danish Beer Academy has a beer appreciation guide which serves as an excellent 101 course. The Lagerheads will be posting useful tips all week and we hope all our fellow beer geeks out there will share some good advice as well.