In my attempts to indulge in all things beer-related, I am the member of several Facebook groups for beer geeks. On one such group this evening there have been a slew of photos that were, let’s say, out of the norm for the group. One was of a Cran-brrrrr-etta with the caption “Just cracked a PVW aged 2013 cran. Anyone else think this years sucks?” Another was of a red dixie cup with ice cubes next to a bottle of Bourbon County. Both of these were hilarious and greeting with some humor, but mostly people calling these folks “trolls.”
Not to be contrary, but posting satire or something with humorous intent is not being a “troll”; it is having fun and being silly. Being a “troll” would be joining the group simply to YELL IN ALL CAPS ABOUT HOW MICROBEER SUX AND UR ALL GAY 4 DRINKIN BEEEEEEER LOLOLOLOOLLOLO. Or trolling by arguing with every person about things you know nothing about, then comparing them to Hitler. Or be a lonely, rather homely fellow who lives under bridges and tortures gnomes. But back to my point.
Beer is fun and should promote a community of enjoyment. Otherwise we wouldn’t have beers like Doggie Style or Bad Santa or Arrogant Bastard or Enormous Richard.
While I take learning about beers very seriously, I don’t take talking about them seriously. What a fucking drag that would be. The world does not need another snobby expert spouting unpalatable information into the world. (See what I did there?) Michael Jackson knew that, which is why every book he wrote, every interview he did was relatable and educational. He was the Carl Sagan of beer: absolutely enraptured by everything wonderful he was experiencing, and beyond delighted to share that with the world. We need more Michael Jacksons. And we definitely don’t need more people who have no clue what they are talking about making judgement calls about other people’s choices.
Those first two Facebook posts are, however, not what I wanted to talk about (who would have guessed?). I wanted to talk about this one:
A photo of someone pouring a Dogfish Head 120 Minute IPA down the sink with the caption “Nope. Not for me…”
Holy shitstorm! Amongst the various comments of “troll” (see above for my thoughts on that), there were comments telling the poster they should have contacted the board and someone would have “rescued” the beer, other people bemoaning the fact that they can’t get that beer, others bragging that they sell the beer in every gas station, and then my favorite ilk:
“ur a pussy if u can’t handle a REAL ipa. why do u even fuckin drink beer. go back to ur bud black label.”
TROLL! That THAT is a troll! Troll troll troll-fucking-troll. Ugh.
I can’t tell you how many beers – and beers that are highly regarded – I have dumped down the drain. Some because they were flat-out bad (off flavors, too old, etc), some because they were out of balance and not well made, and others because I just could not drink them (I’m looking at you three different iterations of Arrogant Bastard). There are just some beers that my palate does not agree with. Does that make me less of a beer drinker? Less of a beer geek? Less of a person? FUCK NO! It just means that I didn’t like that beer, and instead of suffering through it, I let it go. Does it suck to do that? Every. Single. Time. But there’s no point in being miserable.
I also take umbrage with the implication that not enjoying a seriously hefty imperial IPA would make you “pussy” or “less of a man.” I, being a woman, can out-drink the majority of men I meet. And I know that I have more beer knowledge than most people – men or women – on the planet. So why does not being able to enjoy a beer make you more feminine? Because we are more discerning and conscious about what we actually like? Because we aren’t willing to shove just any-old beverage down our gullets? Because we refuse to put up with crap? Yeah, I’m sure that’s what it means. I’ll go with that.
And here’s my biggest issue: who is anyone else to say what you should or shouldn’t like? While I work hard to educate people on beer and to get them to go outside of their comfort zone, I never expect them to go from a white wine drinker to loving Cascadian ales (black IPAs) in one swoop. That’s dumb. The palate needs to be educated. It’s the same reason that you can’t give a kid a bell pepper then expect them to love habaneros. I also accept when people give different beers a try and simply don’t like them. That’s fair. Everyone’s palate is different. All I ask is that you give it a try once. If it’s not your gig, then move on. But you never know what you may taste and absolutely love. It’s the same with food: just one bite may separate you from your favorite food. You never know unless you try.
We need to stop belittling or insulting people who don’t like the beers we do. It’s childish and ridiculous. Would you make fun of someone who ordered a meatball sub instead of a sausage sub because you prefer sausage? Of course not, that’s stupid. So is this.
I have so much respect for someone who picks up a beer style they have never tried before and give it a taste. It costs money and can be really unpleasant. And if you’re doing it at a brewery or in front of beer geeky folks, it can take some courage. And it shouldn’t. Trying something new, no matter your reaction to it, should be exciting and triumphant and delightful. And, besides, you can never enhance your palate if you never try new things.
I guess the moral of the story is to never be afraid to try something new or to dump it down the drain if you hate it. Even if you’re going to catch flack for doing so. And also, don’t be a troll. Either variety. Because gnomes have rights, too.