So I got called out on a recent article of mine after discussing my opinions of two highly touted craft beers, Bell's Hopslam and Sierra Nevada's Hoptimum. "Bryan" said "when did we begin talking about beer in this hipster, douchey fashion? i LOVE a good IPA but i would never stick my nose it" [sic]. My initial response is: then you, Bryan, are missing out on one of the best parts of truly great craft beer. I love the aroma of an especially hoppy beer, and could easily spend quite a while before drinking it just revelling in its fragrance. That said, his comment does revive the ongoing debate of beer geek vs. beer snob, as well as how one talks about beer in general. Apparently there is still the belief among some (Bryan and his friends, I assume) that one cannot speak about the aspects of a beer one enjoys without sounding like a "hipster" or a "douche". That is unfortunate.
I am opposed to this kind of anti-intellectualism. I do not subscribe to the (dropped out of) school of thought that just because one uses descriptive terminology to discuss a topic somehow precludes their opinion from having any validity. Certainly, there is a point of "too much", and an over abundance of flowery language can undoubtedly turn a neophyte off. But I don't think saying "I, uh, liked it and stuff..." accurately conveys how I feel, especially when what I genuinely mean is "I wanted to bathe in the citrusy, piny, floral bouquet wafting from my glass and I kept burying my nose in it to breathe it in deeper."
I think that there is a resistance among some craft beer drinkers to allow the elevation of beer. By this I mean as soon as a beer drinker, writer, critic, whatever starts using language that sounds similar to a wine review, they freak out and scream snobbery. Wine "experts" have a reputation - much of it well deserved - for waxing poetic about their drink of choice in a language that doesn't mean anything to the unwashed masses. Quite frankly, it turns the average person off and makes a lot of people uncomfortable about exploring wine, which is a shame. There are people in the craft beer community that do it too. We call them beer snobs.
Sam Calagione famously said:
I do not lord anything over my fellow beer drinkers. I love craft beer. I love talking about craft beer. I love being with other people who love craft beer. Yes, I will use phrases like "The flavor and mouthfeel were excellent, but didn’t measure up to the promise of the nose." Deal with it. If you don't like it, don't read beer reviews.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.