The Topic: Lack of Beer Education
This is not one of my fav topics. A few years ago a highly ranked judge decided to “educate me,” the problem being I kept proving him more wrong than right. And his education as a self proclaimed know it all: a bit lacking. Boy was he pissed. I don’t claim to be a know it all and, to be honest, I like anyone, can be wrong. When doing beer education humble is, by far, a better approach. In fact I feel that way about politics, religion and damn near anything. You try to pass on any knowledge you think you may have as politely as possible, without trying to display any sense of superiority… and be ready to learn, much like any teacher learns from students. Like “The Wizard of Beer,” a column I wrote long ago: we all can be wrong; even about topics we’re pretty damn sure about.
As a children’s entertainer I had a newsletter for a few years with the slogan, “We are all learning.” I really believe that.
Yet nothing aggravates me more than those who should be more educated than they are when it’s their job to know. I’m reminded of The Great Lost Bear, a multi-tap bar in Maine. I was doing an article many years ago and I kept asking about the beer. The bartender got pissed. Why? Because I kept gently asking questions like, “What style is it?” Or, “Is it very hoppy?” And, yes, “Is it dark or light.” Her answer back was, “We don’t serve no ‘lite’ beer here.”
Hm, do you know the difference between “lite,” and “light colored?”
Last year I did an update on several pubs in New England and at one of my favorite places: Dave Wollner; owner and brewer, I started asking similar questions of the tender. The bartender would literally walk away as I asked, and made rude noises. It was so bad I eventually said, “You really don’t like beer geeks, do you?” Retort: “If I didn’t like beer geeks I wouldn’t like my job, would I?”