That’s right. I’m in-favor of the Oxford comma and I’m back from the dead.
I could have easily added connoisseur to the title, but that’s been covered already. Regardless, we hate them all, even if we are geeks, nerds, or snobs ourselves about beer, indie rock, or whatever. There are things we…er….they do and say that cause us to reject their ideas of beer and music. Although they are extremely knowledgeable in whatever special interest, we tune them out as to listen to them sucks all the fun out of something that should be enjoyed by all. Some acknowledge their own snobbery and are more accepting of others. However, most of us don’t like being told how to enjoy a good beer or an album.
Below are the ten things geeks, nerds, snobs, and connoisseurs do that makes it hard to take their advice and opinions on beer and indie rock seriously.
10. It was always better way-back-when.
Pavement was so much better on their Slanted and Enchanted tour than their reunion tour last summer. OR The ’08 120 Minute IPA was far superior to this year’s batch…For those who have discovered a band or beer just recently, there’s no way we can know what it was like to experience either when in their prime. It’s an unfair detail to mention in conversation. Age does not mean one has experienced all that is worth experiencing, particularly if you’re still in-search of white whales.
9. “Yeah, that’s nice, but have you experienced…”
It doesn’t matter what cool story you can bring to the table, the “expert” will always have one to top yours. I loved the Yo La Tengo show last month, but there are lots of people who thought the variation they saw on the spinning wheel was superior. Maybe. Why can’t both experiences be great? Why is a beer on tap automatically a better tasting experience than from the bottle?
8. No dialogue, just references.
This one is an epidemic for my generation. We don’t have conversations these days. We make pop culture references as way to make some meaning or connection in our lives. This practice is particularly bad when beer nerds and indie geeks “discuss” their tastes. Sea and Cake. Joan of Arc. Coctails. Rachels… La Folie. Russian River Supplication. Pliny. Dreadnaught.
7. Name-dropping when you’re not on a first name basis with anyone of note.
I love the guys who refer to their heroes on a first-name basis because they spoke to a guy at the merch booth or told a brewer how much you loved his beer. I met Brian Strumke of Stillwater Artisanal Ales at a bar in D.C. earlier this week. We chatted for while, we friended each other Facebook, but I don’t know that I’ll talk about “Brian” as if we’re close. He was a cool guy and I couldn’t resist mentioning him in this post, but our conversation doesn’t give me any more insight into craft beer than you may have.
6. Although that was great, I know how it could have been better, epic even.
You’re out, enjoying one of your favorite bands when your connoisseur buddy turns and says something like “This would have been waaaay better had they just played ‘South Carolina.'” Maybe, but they didn’t. Why ruin a good time by focusing on what didn’t happen?
5. “What do you think? I hate it.”
Ever been asked by a friend or acquaintance whether you liked a beer or were digging a band on stage and when you say you do like it, your partner proceeds to explain why this beer is infected or the band is completely off. Instead of offering his opinion first, he tests you to see whether you’re worthy or not and then details how wrong and ignorant you are.
4. “Have I told you this before?”
Snobs love to hear themselves talk and a big part of that talk is the one story he tells you over and over like it’s so amazing that you grow more impressed with every new telling. I don’t care that you saw Elliott Smith during his Either/Or days. Wow, great. You’ve been to Russian River and tried every beer on the sampler tray. It gets so bad that you start to think that this is the only thing your snobby friend has ever done and does that really qualify him as a snob?
3. Picking apart every last detail until enjoyment is impossible.
You’re sitting there, sipping on this excellent IPA, and watching the hottest band on Pitchfork. In one ear, you have your buddy explaining why the hop profile is out of balance with the malt bill. In the other ear, another friend is pointing out how the bassist is so drunk, he’s missing every cue. Who gives a fuck? Just enjoy the beers and show.
2. Once you come around, let’s throw out something shocking.
OK. So, you’ve figured out your discussion mate. He loves the sourest beers. He only listens to vinyl. Then, he drops the bombshell just to prove that he thinks about these things on a different level than you can comprehend or that he just knows more about everything… He loves the hop presence in a Miller Lite more than Pliny the Elder and still listens to his cassette tape of Hall & Oates’ Big Bam Boom, possibly the best album of the 80’s or so he claims. Really? Aren’t you just being ironic? Bad taste is bad taste, especially when one should know better.
1. The lecture.
Much of what’s been described above could be part of the snob’s lecture. The lecture is when your friend insists on dominating the conversation, constantly steering it to the one or two areas in which he assumes he is the most knowledgeable. There’s no listening on his part, just talking. And talking. And talking. Sure, he knows his shit, but there are other perspectives and opinions to consider in a discussion. Your opinion isn’t the only one that counts!
Of course, I resemble every one of these characteristics. I’ve done them all, but I feel I’ve been subjected to my fair share of each. Either way, I think it’s important we recognize these characteristics in anything in which we are knowledgeable experts and/or pathetic obsessives. And once we recognize the signs, we should try to avoid them and listen to others. When we see it in others, we should recognize that there’s good knowledge in arrogance and pretension.
Still, the backlash directed at beer nerds and indie geeks seems to resemble anti-intellectualism or anti-elitism that runs rampant through our political climate at the moment. These experts are valuable parts of our communities. They can connect dots and provide insight when it’s lacking. The trick is to not let that abundance of knowledge overwhelm or drown out enjoyment.
Update: Due to some developments elsewhere, I am adding an eleventh point. Since I didn’t rank the ones above, it doesn’t really matter where I stick this addendum. Once again, it should be acknowledged that I have committed many if not all of the above offenses. #11 is no different. In fact, if you follow the link at the beginning of this update, you’d see what I mean.
11. When someone doesn’t know when to stop…A new rule of thumb will be to limit myself to three comments in proving a point. In f2f situations, this could be a rule to make three points, then agree to disagree. The hated beer nerd/indie geek will not let something go. He has to have the last word, picking your argument apart, often diverting from the original statement. Normally, when I find myself in such a situation, I try to make a joke and move on. However, I recently engaged in an argument over the points made in this very post at another blog. I should have let it go, but I didn’t. In the end, I look like the ass. Of course, maybe it’s some strange consolation that my antagonist also comes off as an ass. Either way, two beer nerds arguing on a comment thread is a perfect way for said nerds to be ignored from here on out.
Special thanks goes out to Stan of Appellation Beer for linking back to this post and demonstrating an immense amount of patience and understanding. For a good read on beer and beer culture, I suggest you check out his blog immediately.