Ken Carman is a BJCP judge; homebrewer since 1979, club member at Escambia Bay, Salt City and Music City Homebrewers, who has been interviewing professional brewers all over the east coast for over 10 years.
The Topic: Beer Snobs
Having dealt with a few pro-brewers and highly ranked BJCP judges with attitude problems, I know there is such a thing as a “beer snob” among craft beer lovers, competition judges and homebrewers. In fact I know one pro-brewer, no names mentioned, who thinks every time someone writes something on his brewery it has to be positive: essentially a promo. You may have read my comments before where this same highly ranked judge and pro-brewer would loudly lecture everyone during competition about how they should judge every, and any, beer. Or the highly ranked judge whose first comment to me when I questioned his ruling that a green apple taste was “always a defect,” because Pomme: which uses apples, might have that taste, he insisted there was “no such beer” as a Pomme. (Wrong.) And he then claimed I had “inferior taste buds.”
That’s not the way we should treat other judges, no matter what their rank. And both are obviously classic examples of snobs at their worst.
Sometimes I secretly wish for a ceremony like was held for an old TV show, Branded, where Chuck Connors, in front of everyone in the fort had his honors ripped from him and he was forced to leave. Ah, the fantasy, for such judges to have their pins and cards ripped from them and, once humiliated, forced out the door. But, then again, they would do it to me just for the fun of exercising their arrogance, so I feel it wise tis not something we do.
But most craft beer lovers, pro-brewers and judges I’ve met are grand folk with moderate egos. It’s a marvelous gathering of folks who defy the definition of beer snob. I suppose some of that definition transfers from the “wine snob”-dom. I certainly have met more than a few of those.
For example: most of us try not to lecture, and attempt to hold our tongues, when someone says, “Beer is just hops, malt and yeast.”
Sorry, that was a Reinsheitsgebot-geschneezen.
Germans. Oi! They make fine beer, don’t get me wrong, but they also helped to make rational beer education tough by their dominating, anal, tendency to create limitations. Oh, you know, like about what exactly has to be in beer: hops, malt, yeast… nothing else. Regardless of the fact beer had a long history of many interesting additions other than hops, and even the Germans made exceptions when it suited their needs: like wheat. Oh, and the whole conquer the world, not so nice-y nice to the Jews, routine.
Talk about “beer snobs.”
But a few weekends ago I met up with what probably represents the majority of real beer snobs. I was doing a tasting in Stillwater, NY. Unfortunately the weather and a boat who took my audience away conspired and I wound up trying to entice the bar flies with free beer, and hoping to provide just a little knowledge, or at least develop a few palates. You think these flies decided to bite? No, they had their Millers/Coors/Bud light/lites in front of them and each one was damned if they’d have any. They wouldn’t even take a sip, even though I had chosen an interesting lager: something similar to what they were drinking only less adjuncts, and Crabby Patty, my own sour apple cyser. Nothing was able to get them to put anything past their lips but their preferred quaffs.
As a beer judge I can tell the dif, but to be honest their insistence that Miller, or Bud, or whatever are the best, or the only, real beer(s) is absurd. There’s simply not that much of a difference, and once you get into low cal/carb land: pretty much nil… and that goes for actual flavor too Even some NAs have more taste, like Becks or Clausthaler.
Claus makes the super low cal, low carbs beers taste worse than water.
Makes me almost rethink my thoughts about the “inferior taste buds” comment.