A little dose of Frank McCourt’s Teacher Man might be a good lesson for the wayward beer enthusiast, myself included:
“Imagine the dilemma of the husbands and wives of all these food critics. Husband can never invite wife out to dinner just for the sake of going out to dinner where you don’t have to glide things over your palate to figure out what spices were used or what was in that sauce. Who would want to eat with a woman who knows everything about food and wine? You’d be watching to see what kind of face she made at the first mouthful.”
McCourt was using the restaurant reviews of Mimi Sheraton as a teaching tool in his writing class. This passage hit me. I’ve seen this person before. It was one of my English professors. She admitted openly in class one day that No, she did not ever read just for pleasure.
But then it’s me, too, and many other beer geeks out there. If people are going to respect beer, we’d better not be jerks about it. We’ll catch more flies with sugar than vinegar.
I’ve noticed that my wife often waits to hear my opinion on a beer before she’s willing to express her affection for a beer. I’ve noticed that I sometimes roll my eyes when I encounter people that brag about how they love Newcastle. I’ve noticed that some beer lovers are really beer jerks about the whole situation. Knowing this isn’t good for the beer scene, I try to keep myself in check.
I make it a point to apologize from time to time. “I’m sorry. You have to understand that I’m a complete and total beer geek.” Sometimes I add, “and I simply don’t go for beer that’s been filtered through a Clydesdale.” I smile smart-assedly and encourage them to try my beer. I can apologize for my nerdy ways, get a jab in and still make some craft beer headway with a corporate beer drinker who simply doesn’t know about good beer.
“Sorry. I’ll wash the glass. I just really want to smell this beer. Check this out. You smell that dark fruit action?”
“No offense, but please don’t give me a chilled glass. I won’t be able to taste the beer as well. I’m one of those beer geeks. And really, you should mention it to your manager. It’s important for your customers.”
McCourt’s words rang clear, and I will try to lay off some of my not-so-polite moments. And knowing first hand that there are others out there that are less polite than I manage, I’d like to encourage everyone else to take a quick look in the mirror and make any necessary adjustments.
We’ll never get to brewvana if we’re all jerks.