This is my 200th post on this blog, which means I owe a sincere thank you to everyone who has stopped by, continues to read and engage me in conversation about beer and its place in our lives. A special thanks to frequent commenters and Friends of the Program Scott at Beerbecue, Patrick from Crafty and the Beast, John from Home Brew Manual, Eric from Sheppy’s Blog (of beer and homebrew) and Bryan at The Wandering Gourmand.
Looking back over my many posts, it seems I’ve returned often to the idea of breaking down barriers of the perception of beer and what it means to people.
… and what better way to look back than to discuss five of the more common myths I see stuck in the public eye? Maybe then we can all start to take a few steps forward and really enjoying craft beer and what it has to offer.
Myth 1. “Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.”
This is a great pet peeve of mine, so let’s just get it out of the way. That quote is not from Ben Franklin. Technically, it’s not from anyone because nobody ever said it except when they were misquoting Ben Franklin.
Here’s the real quote, from that wine-swilling, French-loving Founding Father:
Behold the rain which descends from heaven upon our vineyards; there it enters the roots of the vines, to be changed into wine; a constant proof that God loves us, and loves to see us happy.
So there you have it. You can wear it on your T-shirt, but please don’t go proclaiming it as historical fact.
Myth 2. If you like “light” beers you won’t like “dark” beers. Or vice versa.
I’m glad that people have their favorite tastes – I certainly do – but what’s with the hate for one end of the color spectrum in lieu of the other? Just because you like pale ales or IPAs doesn’t mean you’ll hate a well-made porter or stout.
When people say to me “I don’t like [beer style]” I always reply “Well, you just haven’t had the right [beer style] for you yet.” I hated IPAs until a few years ago, now I can’t get enough of them.
This is truer now more than ever, thanks to the (mad) genius of so many brewers across the country. We have such a vast array of styles and there are plenty of brews that will never fit into one category. Maybe you like IPAs? I’m sure there’s a black IPA somewhere that you’ll enjoy and could act as a gateway to maltier brews. Maybe you hate IPAs because they’re too bitter? There are plenty of brews bursting with fruit flavor thanks to smart use of hops. Why not try something like Founders All Day IPA. I really liked Maine Brewing’s Peeper.
Never sell yourself short. Or your taste buds. There is such an incredible variety of beers available you’re sure to find something new. All you have to do is look.
3. Craft beer enthusiasts are really just drunkards in training.
Just because we appreciate a 12 percent ABV barleywine doesn’t mean we’re walking around the streets with the 750mL bottle in a paper bag and chugging the thing.
We love beer. We love sharing beer. But most of all we love enjoying beer responsibly and being part of the community. We’re not Barney from the Simpsons spending our days in a sour beer stupor.
This issue recently came to a head in South Carolina, which is in the process of changing its laws pertaining to on-site samplings. If passed, beer lovers could drink up to 64 ounces of beer at a brewery instead of 16 ounces during a tour. Representatives are up in a tizzy, proclaiming that’s unsafe and could lead to problems with intoxication. Nick of Drink. Blog. Repeat., Friend of the Program and South Carolina beer blogger extraordinaire, has a good recap and is (obviously) very passionate about the impression legislators have of the South Carolina drinking public:
We – that being craft beer fans – go to breweries to get educated on how each one does things differently. We go to see what special techniques and methods each respective brewery uses in the brewing of its beer. We go to sample new and inventive local beers and to meet like-minded individuals. We don’t go to get smashed. If we wanted to, we could go to any bar in any city in any state and do that. We go to breweries to experience, share and enjoy, not get tanked.
Myth 4. Craft beer drinkers are really just snobs.
Enough with this already.
No, craft beer is not the same as wine. No, being enthusiastic about craft beer doesn’t make us snobs. Being enthusiastic about craft beer just makes us passionate and well informed.
Unfortunately, that train of thought seems to exist far and wide. Mostly because people make the (wrong) connection between the variety of beer to the variety of wine, making beer the “new” wine and meaning if you’re passionate about beer, you’re a snob. Just because I’m passionate and knowledgeable about football and baseball doesn’t make me a snob toward basketball and hockey.
The reason we (generally) don’t care for beers like Budweiser or Miller Lite is because we know the art that goes into making a truly great craft beer that also tastes amazing. You would find very little argument from beer lovers about the success of macro, BMC brands to produce consistent brew. It’s rather amazing how good Budweiser is at making Budweiser taste like Budweiser no matter where it’s made. But science doesn’t equate to craft beer, per se.
We drink craft beer because it offers a variety of tastes and experiences. Seeking this out doesn’t make us snobs, nor does it make us snobs to want to know about what we’re drinking and how it’s made. Interest in what we consume is important and popular. Just look how quickly farmers markets have grown. (That chart look similar to the growth of breweries? Just sayin’)
Myth 5. Fruit beers and ciders are for “girls.”
This is just silly. While cider has traditionally been a preferred drink of females, here’s a news flash: males are also drinking it at an increasing rate. The Founding Fathers approve.
And those fruit beers we tease our friends about? Guys have been drinking those for thousands of years.
The first documented use of hops wasn’t until around the 9th century and until then, beer was flavored with spices, herbs and fruits. Hell, the Vikings, historical man’s man, drank mead.
The idea that men are supposed to drink a certain drink is an entirely sociological issue and it’s a stupid one. I’d argue that it’s also uniquely American. Men are drinking a variety of alcoholic drinks and whatever they choose should be OK.
Besides, in case you haven’t noticed, women are on the craft beer bandwagon. For females ages 18 to 34, it’s now the preferred alcoholic drink.
What myths are you tired of hearing?
“Don’t drink to get drunk. Drink to enjoy life.” — Jack Kerouac
15 thoughts on “5 Myths about Beer and Beer Drinkers”
Congratulations on the 200th post! I’m quickly approaching 100 on mine. Doesn’t seem like I started only 9 months ago.
As for your post, well written and informative! One of the myths I like the least is that “Wine is better with food than beer.” I hosted a Wine vs. Beer dinner last night. There was only one person who was a legitimate “beer” fan. The rest were all wine fans. I actually was able to enlighten them and introduce them to the world of food and beer.
One non-myth: beer people = good people. Way to do the part and evangelize good beer!
I find the wine vs. beer (with food) argument funny, if only because of the incredible breadth of beer and beer styles you can find that pair perfectly with food. Vintages of grapes certainly offer different characteristics, but by sheer math you can find more variety and opportunities with beer.
It’s an odd paradox that these days craft beer can be seen as snobbish, yet not good enough to pair with food!
You know what pairs well with a good pair-a-ducks? A nice Belgian double or strong dark…
That it will make you go blind. Totally not true.
Thanks for the shout, and congrats on your 200th post. I’ve been a little behind on reading and commenting lately, but now that my paternity leave is over I’ll be back to reading on my commute. Interesting I had to go back to work to find more time to read beer blogs.
What’s the point of going to work if you can’t find time to ignore work? What else would we do all day?
Hope things are good with the family. Welcome back to the grind.
I’ll have to disagree with you on #4. That’s not really a myth – beer snobs most definitely exist. I’ve met a few of them and read their blogs (not yours, I should stress). Snobs exist everywhere, including in the beer world.
You’re absolutely right and I should have clarified that.
What I meant for it to reference is the blanket statement that people may have – if you’re enthusiastic about craft beer you must be snobby about other beer. On a whole, this is certainly not true!
However, you’re definitely right. I have met a few who toe the line of “beer people are good people.”
Thank you for catching this – cheers!
Congrats on 200 posts, Bryan. I find myself trying to cope with your Myth #3 on a constant basis. In family gatherings and other kinds of get togethers, I’m often referred to as the “beer guy”, and sometimes I can sense a negative connotation in the comment. It’s funny, because I rarely drink to the point of intoxication. It still seems that being a wine enthusiast is more acceptable to the public than being a beer enthusiast. Oh well, just gotta keep enjoying what we like!
Constant – no I don’t believe so either. But I have felt even more recently the negative connotations to being a craft beer person, although it could be the wine vs beer argument or large bottle sizes or that we’re just in a time if year where big beers are the norm.
I feel there’s a false context that craft beer = high ABV, or even loving beer can be a problem. Aside from the issues in South Carolina, the issues of legalizing homebrewing in Alabama and Mississippi touch on this. It seems silly to me that just because you can make or get alcohol that you’ll automatically abuse such a privilege.
Thanks for sharing! My hope was to spur some conversation about this, so in glad you dropped by with your .02.
Wait…How did I miss this post? Oh, OK. I was busy herding my children around Hershey’s Chocolate World in Hershey, PA then consumed with the Syracuse Orange victory over Marquette the next day.
Anyway, glad I finally got a grip. Really good post. I particularly like – hate – the myth about hating a particular style just because you’re a fan of another. Complete nonsense. As you said, its really just a matter of not having had the right beer within that style. Intra-styly gateway brews are as critical for the confirmed beer geek as they are for the yet-to-be initiated.
As for us snobs, well, I prefer to think of beer geeks as people who simply appreciate quality, period. We don’t line up to trod off to the salt lick simply because its hanging there. There was a point to that reference – operative word being “was”. Now its gone.
Anyway. Congrats on #200. Keep ’em coming.
Glad you enjoyed the post! I was inspired by that Ben Franklin quote, which popped up a few times in the past week. I just though, “enough already.”
Thanks for reading!
Cider is for girls? Anyone who dare try saying that in south west England might get their head kicked in.
That’s definitely on the mark. I don’t drink cider often, but one of my favorite “craft” places back home in NY is a cidery. If it’s good, who cares, right?
Sadly, it’s an unfortunate truth here in the US. Drinking cider or some fruity beer is immediate cause for teasing among guys.
I can’t wait for that stereotype in America to begone!
Great list. And so very true about so many things. There is definitely the stigma about some of the things (fruit drinks, high ABV = drunkard, etc.). I know the times I go drinking with co-workers, and they see me order the 8$ 14% stout vs. their 2$ Miller Lite I get called snob, drunk, etc. (all mostly in good fun amongst friends, but still). I don’t go into some rant about his miller lite, but I do say why I ordered the stout, why I enjoy it, etc. To each their own in the end.
Anyway, wonderful blog man, just found this, love reading it! Gives me some ideas and inspirations for my own!