Why I Won’t Tell You a Beer is Bad.
This post was inspired by Alan McLeod’s fantastic “A Good Beer Blog,” something I digest quite regularly. His post titled “How to Write a Good Review on a Very Bad Thing” is well-written and interesting. It also brings up a point I’ve always had a hard time communicating to others when I’m talking about beer. I’ve learned some of this from working in the restaurant industry for a seemingly short amount of time.
When describing a beer, meal, movie, or anything really, I hesitate to use the terms “bad” and “good.” These words describe a personal preference as opposed to the actual characteristics of the item in question. A pertinent example is when beer snobs insinuate that macro-brewed beer like Budweiser and Miller/Coors is “rubbish,” “horse piss,” “for white trash hillbillies,” and other terms of the like, they solely accomplish being derogatory. They are in essence imposing their opinions of a beer onto others, while holding court on all those who disagree. These insinuations both get in the way of the enjoyment of a truly awesome thing (beer!) and create a tension between the two opposing parties.
I try my best to keep away from telling others that beers are bad or good; I’ve worked hard over the last two years to develop my taste for beer, to pick out subtleties and balances, and to be able to identify characteristics of a beer that describe the beer itself and not my opinion of the beer. When others ask me for an opinion of a beer they are thinking of buying, I try to stick to these principles and describe the beer at face value – this way, he/she who extends the query can decide for themselves if they like what they hear (or taste). I, for one, am not a fan of your “farmhouse ale” saison. But I can describe one if I taste it.
If you tell me what kind of beers you are into regularly, I would be able to forecast whether you’d like a beer or not with moderate accuracy. I am young in the world of beer, and I am still learning, but there is a principle on which I try to balance all pillars of my life – respect the opinions of others, and they will respect you.
In short, every time I say to you “Bud Light has its place and time, for sure…” know that I’m not BS-ing you. It’s the truth – you wouldn’t drink a stout on a lawnmower in the summer. Or if you did, you’d quickly learn your (intestinal) lesson. But I’m only trying to quell your insistence that I’m a snob, and instead respect your opinions.