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Dec 4, 2008 03:25 PM

How much of a beer snob have you become?

So were on our way for the regular friday night restaurant visit, the wife suggest a few places and I say no because all they have is Guinness or Sam Adams. With the large selection of great micros and brewpubs some of my old favorites are now kind of boring. Am I in danger of becoming a beer elitist ? Will some of my other old favorites like Anchor Steam be next on the boring list? Should I drink a few cases of mega lagers to reset my beer compass?
This beer brain needs to know.

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  1. When I go out, I try to avoid places that don't have something other than Macros. That doesn't make me a beer snob, it makes me someone that prefers not to spend money on something I don't like. If I criticize you for drinking Bud, then I'm a beer snob.
    I can live with Sam Adams. They make some fine brews. I could even drink Michelob's Amber Bock in a pinch. But when told Bud, Bud Light, and Miller Light, I'm probably going somewhere else.

    35 Replies
    1. re: Bobfrmia

      "If I criticize you for drinking Bud, then I'm a beer snob." - Why ? If I think that Bud is one the worst beers and I would critize somebody for drinking it it only means that I want to have a certain level of quality. That doesn't make you a beer snob. It only shows that you don't drink any crap.

      1. re: honkman

        If you refer to a beer as crap, then I believe you've taken a few steps down the road to snob status.

        On a purely practical level, the late Michael Jackson used to say (more or less) that you're not going to convince a Bud drinker to try other beers by calling him an idiot.

        1. re: Jim Dorsch

          Aren't there any beers (or any kind of drink or food) you wouldn't call crap ? Wouldn't you call for example Taco Hell crap if there are many good Mexican restaurants/taco shops close by ? Same with beer - It is so easier today to get easily excellent beer from all over the world, why settle down for a low quality product as Bud and why is everybody afraid to be not PC by naming something as crap if it is crap ? And I wouldn't call somebody an idiot because he is drinking Bud but I would make him aware that he is wasting calories on some awful beer and that there many bettre options. Life is too short to waste it with bad food.

          1. re: honkman

            I guess my point is that people have different tastes, and perhaps more important, not everyone cares about what we care about. A lot of people automatically drink Bud, and that's what they drink. Who am I to tell them they should change?

            In my mind, yes, there is crap. But I don't feel compelled to announce that to the person drinking it.

            Regarding the taco situation, every place has its merits. E.g., the taco chain is fast (hopefully), cheap and predictable (and I rather like it).

            1. re: Jim Dorsch

              I understand that people have different tastes but at the same time there shouldn't be any problem if I just voice my opinion to somebody that they waste calories on something which is pretty much on the same taste level as water (and actually water tastes better than Bud). But I guess it is more a difference between Europe and the US that here everybody is most afraid to be always PC and not to discuss anything whereas in Europe it is part of your daily life and culture that you have interesting (often heated) discussions about a lot of things (including food, drinks (order a Bud in Germany decent pub and it wouldn't take more than 10 minutes before would make comments to you about your chioce) and politics) but at the same time even after the most heated discussions/arguments you would never take it personally and would have a great drink/meal afterwards.

              1. re: honkman

                can you reconcile this statement: "I understand that people have different tastes..." and this :"actually water tastes better than Bud" - because while i happen to agree with you about Bud, i cannot reconcile them. does bud "actually" taste better than water? not to someone who likes Bud.

            2. re: honkman

              Crap is in the eye of the be(er)holder. Who is anyone to tell someone else that their tastes are wrong and that a beer they enjoy, they should not be enjoying?

              I like to keep an open mind about industrial lager - it has its place and time, if you keep your head in the sand, you will never have a positive experience with mass produced lagers. Keep an open mind, and someday, it just may surprise you that a positive experience can be had drinking a lightly flavored beer.

              1. re: LStaff

                On those rare occasions when I have an industrial lager my experience is typically the same as when I eat Kentucky Fried Chicken. On fist sip/bite I think - this isn't so bad - and by the end I'm thinking - this is terrible.

                1. re: tofuburrito

                  I haven't had KFC in a long time, but recall liking it. A few months ago I drank a bottle of Bud, and I liked that, too, although I confess I was drinking it to make a point, and perhaps this influenced my attitude.

                2. re: LStaff

                  I'm going to go ahead and sort of disagree with you there. Try Bud warm and tell me you have a positive experience with it.

                  To me, keeping an open mind about industrial light lager is like keeping an open mind about Kraft Singles or Wonder Bread. They are all products made for people who don't like the taste of real beer, cheese, and bread.

                  If we look at how beer, cheese, and bread were produced historically, and from what ingredients, then how can we conclude otherwise? Beer made with rice and/or corn making of a large percentage of the grain bill, in place of barley malt, is made that way so it has less flavor - this is the role of adjuncts in brewing: to add fermentable sugar without adding flavor.

                  I agree with you that it's not our place to tell people their tastes are wrong, but I do know that craft beer bar owners are often successful in weaning their clientele off of BMC and getting them into more flavorful craft beers.

                  Obviously Bud is a well-made beer, with a very precise flavor. Clearly it's not trying to be something that it's not. But as beer fans, we can help people experience some of the broader range of flavors out there.

                  1. re: Josh

                    "Beer made with a large rice/corn element is made that way so it has less flavor - this is the role of adjuncts in brewing."

                    No, that's not a universal truth. It CAN be made that way but using corn/rice is not always with the expressed purpose of reducing flavor. The purpose of corn and rice is to add fermentables. Besides, some really fine beers on both sides of the Atlantic use and have used (for 100+ years) corn or rice adjunct. What sets the _crappy_ adjunct beers apart is the _amount_ of adjunct much as 50% or more in some American beers. In that case, yes there will be a reduction in flavor and body. I believe that Fuller's uses both corn adjunct and sugars in their beers, and they are certainly not lacking in flavor or body.
                    Basically, the micro industry mantra that good beers aren't or can't be made with corn or rice is just more marketing hype. And just so this isn't perceived as a bias of any sort, I reiterate that I am a big fan of the micro movement and have supported it from the start. But they are sometimes as guilty of B.S. as the bigger breweries.

                    1. re: The Professor

                      I amended my original comments. I knew when I wrote that someone would correct me. ;-)

                      Belgian beers use candi sugar for the same purpose. Using adjuncts isn't bad per se, as for some styles it's the only way to reach higher levels of alcohol. It's using them in place of flavorful ingredients that's the issue.

                      1. re: Josh

                        No argument with you there.
                        I don't know what the percentage of rice is in Budweiser (I'd be interested to find out), but I have gotten it firsthand that the corn adjunct in some other American light lagers is half (and in a few cases, more than half) of the grist. The beers made in that manner certainly _are_ lacking, but continue to cater to what is still the biggest majority of the beer buying public. BUT...That's sure to change since many beer drinkers today have never had to experience a lack of quality choices, and I suspect that these days it is more common for many first time beer drinkers' first taste to be something of higher quality than what was the 'norm' in the US for 60 years. It is an interesting time for the beer industry now that the status quo has been challenged by the new brewers with their now firm foothold.

                  2. re: LStaff

                    Count me as a person who likes both country and western. I have absolutely no problem drinking a BMC, and I also very much appreciate Good Beer. This past weekend, one night I was drinking tremens, some dry hopped saison via cask, aventinus, and a bevy of brews from local NYC breweries. The next night I had about 12 bud lights. I was perfectly happy both nights.

                    1. re: jgg13

                      Were you perfectly happy when you started on the bud lights, or only after 12?

                      1. re: Bobfrmia


                        I really dont mind the macrolagers, I don't see why people say they're so offensive tasting, given that the whole point is that they don't taste like much at all.

                        I also have no problem eating Big Macs, even though I much prefer a $18 burger at a local high end resto. I'm fine slumming it or riching it up

                        1. re: jgg13

                          I would agree that they aren't really offensive. If i'm really thirsty, I can down a Bud Light and find it refreshing. I just don't consider one when I'm in the mood to drink beer. Everything has its place.

                          1. re: Bobfrmia

                            I was originally going to make a joke along the "what I have when I'm having more than one" lines, but the reality is that quantity doesn't really affect my decisions :) It has a lot more to do with where I am and what I'm doing ... not going to get my nose out of joint if I'm at a ballgame, some wild party, a dive bar, etc ... and OTOH I'm not going to try ordering a Colt 45 at a beer bar :)

                            I suppose more telling would be "what do I have at home". When it's just us, we drink The Good Stuff (and/or our homebrew which typically unfortunately isn't generally The Good Stuff, but ....). Now tonight, we're having some folks over to watch the ballgame ... well, it could be either way and probably will end up a little of both - basically everyone coming over is of a similar mind to me so it just depends on everyone's whims on what they pick up on the way over.

                            1. re: jgg13

                              You don't actually understand beer until you've learned to enjoy a Schlitz while watching a football game. It's that simple.

                              Then you can go back to your lambics and doppels and trippels and hefe-weissens knowing they're a choice, not a psychological escape.

                              (not directed at anyone in particular)

                              1. re: blair_houghton

                                And here I thought that experience and knowledge mattered.

                                1. re: blair_houghton

                                  so one (meaning me) cannot understand beer until we share your tastes in both beer and sports?

                                  1. re: thew

                                    Reminds me of the jocks I knew in college who would derisively sneer at Guinness while demanding "real beer", e.g. Bud/Miller/Coors.

                                    1. re: thew

                                      or rather you cannot understand my post until you read it as a suggestion to try something once, not to fall in love with it

                                      1. re: blair_houghton

                                        I hate football. Is there another sporting event that would serve as an appropriate substitute?

                                        1. re: Josh

                                          Sorry, Josh, looks like you're doomed to never "understand beer".

                                          I know how you feel, I once saw a football game (NY Titans vs. Buffalo in the last game ever played at the Polo Grounds) but that was a dozen or so years before my last Schlitz (mid-1970's, stopped into some bar in central Massachusetts where a group called The Deadly Nightshade were playing to a hippie-ish crowd drinking longneck bottles of Schlitz. Who were we to not conform?)

                                          But I doubt if that counts...

                                          1. re: JessKidden

                                            I kind of think I know where he’s coming from with the “football and beer” comment (although I don’t think he meant it in the literal sense). I made a post about wine a few weeks ago that was sort of related. To me there’s an “Anglo” approach to wine and a “Continental” approach; the former having leanings toward connoisseurship and the latter being an appreciation at a simpler level. Both can be valid and fulfilling experiences I think.


                                            1. re: Chinon00

                                              Well, it was a ridiculous statement. When one follows a statement with, "It's that simple" it then shouldn't need qualifications, explanations and cautions not to take it literally . So, one reaps what they sow - snarky comments result in snarky comebacks (especially on the 'net).

                                              IF the point was not to "understand beer" but "understand the dominant view of beer in America" ("American beer culture" as it were), well, so what? I think most folks on the various beer sites (who are overwhelmingly buyers of that tiny 4% of US beer that's craft beer + the small percentage of "good beer" than makes up imports to the US) understand quite well both "beer" and "US (majority) beer culture". We also happen to reject the latter viewpoint. Some militantly (that tends to fade as one ages- especially if the availability of craft beer increases at the same time), other with a sort of bemused "benign neglect" (to paraphrase Daniel Patrick Moynihan- a Ballantine XXX Ale drinker, IIRC).

                                              1. re: JessKidden

                                                it is that simple. but i have been around long enough to know that no matter how simple you make it, you will have to explain it to everyone who thinks they know better, and gets caught at it.

                                      2. re: blair_houghton

                                        Most of the dedicated Schlitz drinkers I knew used the beer more for a "pyschological escape" then you will ever find with micro beer drinkers who most often actually drink beer for taste rather than the effect...

                                        As for there being something about sitting in your socks on a Sunday and cracking a bad beer open and watching some pig skin Im all about that. Although Im happy to mix up the beer choices some (just as likely to be enjoying a growler of Gordon Biersch as a Miller High Life or something). Although I just cant see myself sipping on a lambic while watching a game.

                                        1. re: Insidious Rex

                                          We all might be surprised at the true motivations of beer drinkers. (Of course, none of us really knows.) I have to believe there are more than a few BMC drinkers that enjoy what they're drinking, and not just for the buzz. And I also expect there's a sizable contingent of micro drinkers that, to varying degrees, justify their overindulgence by saying they're drinking all that beer for the flavor.

                                          And I agree with you about lambic and football games.

                                          1. re: Jim Dorsch

                                            I have a friend who honestly likes Bud more than just about anything he's had (he's softening a bit). Despite what that Craft Wars movie (or whatever it was called) demonstrated w/ their blind taste test, he would know immediately if you didn't hand him a Bud. He rarely (unlike myself) drinks to get drunk.

                                          2. re: Insidious Rex

                                            Last season I was drinking a Dogfish Head Raison D'extra when the first game started. Half a series in and Tom Brady goes down for the season. I'm going back to the High Life this opening day.

                        2. re: honkman

                          Snob is defined as a person regarded as arrogant and annoying. If you tell me what I should or shouldn't like, you're probably arrogant,and you are damn sure annoying.
                          If you ask my opinion of what your drinking, I'll glady give it you.
                          There's a big difference.

                      2. I try to tell myself I don't want to become like those wine snobs, but I've notice inadvertantly I'm slowly becoming more snobbish. Like when my friends suggest bars to go to for happy hour or for a friday or saturday night, I'm always selfishly pushing for the spots that have good beers on tap (not the typical Anchor, Fat Tire, etc., but some Lagunitas or better). I guess I need to try to remember that I'm hanging out with folks that generally aren't beer geeks, and they probably care about other factors besides the tap list when choosing a venue.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: shellshock24

                          It's not snobbish to seek a place that has something interesting. Most of those places also have something more mainstream for your friends.

                          1. re: shellshock24

                            It's probably an East Coast/West Coast thing but I would be happy as a clam if I was able to order Anchor or Fat Tire at any random bar; the same goes for Sierra Nevada.
                            It would be like me being upset when I can only get something from the Brooklyn Brewery or from Blue Point Brewery
                            As the long as the place has something other than bud/miller/coors, I'll be ok.

                          2. I am at a point in my life where I really can't drink more than one or two in an evening without feeling absolutely horrible the next day. So, like you, I make them count. I rediscovered Sam Smith's Oatmeal Stout last week - hadn't had it in years. Yum.

                            1. I like to think that I've moved past beer snob a while ago and have matured into a beer geek. Snobs are often times the poseurs who are only drinking craft beer to be trendy, or criticize others for drinking what they themselves would have chosen to drink the previous month. Mostly a semantic difference that I use now that is definitely not cut and dry.

                              I don't really care what beers the average restaurant or bar offers. But I usually don't drink beer with dinner so a glass of wine or water is fine. I enjoy liquor as well, so a simple mixed drink, something neat or a (hopefully) well made cocktail are an option for me when at a bar. But I still can enjoy something as common as an Anchor Steam or Sam Adams as it's probably been quite some time since I've had one. I also try to separate my geek time from when I'm with people who I know aren't going to use tap and bottle lists as criteria for deciding where to go. I've found it awkward when I'm getting excited about multiple vintages of Cantillon or what's available on cask and the rest of the group is lost because they don't recognize any of the beer available.

                              1. Snob is a tricky adjective but I find myself more than willing to pay the extra dollar or two for something interesting or a micro I haven't had. I also find myself bringing high quality beers to a friends house that I know will only have Miller/Mich Ultra/ etc. I also try to buy cases of micro's at the distributor because I know they are good and I will enjoy them, I don't care to much about guests that may run from a Two Hearted Ale or Troegenator. Bottom line is, I try my hardest to not drink Miller, Bud, Sam Adams, or even Yuengling because its boring and/or bad.

                                5 Replies
                                1. re: Mr Siegal

                                  I don't think you're being a snob unless you vocalize your disdain for those other beers, particularly if your audience doesn't care about beer.

                                  For the record: 1. I drank a bottle of Bud not long ago, just to say I did it. While I wouldn't seek it out, I liked it more than I'd anticipated. 2. I seldom drink Sam Adams Lager, but when I do, I always enjoy it. It's a sold, well-made beer. 3. Yuengling isn't exciting, but it is a great value.

                                  1. re: Jim Dorsch

                                    I definitely don't knock people for drinking Miller or whatever, I'm a huge fan of people doing and drinking anything they want to. I also am not that guy who constantly makes disparaging remarks either but when it comes to my tastes and wallet, I'm going for the good stuff.

                                    I'd also much rather drink a Bud bottle than any Sam Adams or Yuengling Lager (but not Yuengling Porter, because it is gooood.) So what does that say about me?

                                    1. re: Mr Siegal

                                      It says you're an understanding person who appreciates good beer.

                                      1. re: Jim Dorsch

                                        Thanks to all for your replies. Though my question was somewhat tongue in cheek I did wan to stir up some serious discussion here. As with most of you here I too do not knock others for their choice of beverage. I am happy with just enough knowledge to enjoy the better brews that life has to offer. I am on my way to the strong ale festival at Pizza Port in Carlsbad.

                                  2. re: Mr Siegal

                                    There's nothing snobbish about enjoying what you like. For my part, I won't touch a Bud/Miller/Coors product. (The sole exception: I'm at a gathering at a friend's house, and that's all they have. In that case, I'll have one to be polite, and nurse it for a looooong time!) I don't criticize others if they do, though I'll recommend alternatives if the subject comes up in conversation. I have a longtime friendly dispute with a colleague who drinks nothing but Bud, who's convinced that I don't know what I'm missing!

                                    I don't drink Sam often anymore, because there are so many more interesting beers out there, but it's a perfectly decent "fallback" beer. I can (just barely) tolerate Yuengling Lager; anything less than that, and I'm ordering soda or water. (I'm reminded of a waitress at my favorite place. Stopping into a shot-n-beer kind of place, she looked at the beer offerings, and said -- to her companion, not the server -- "OK, I'll have a Yuengling, but make it as cold as possible, so I don't have to taste it!")