Early stage startup marketing & community management + the great outdoors.

Craft Beer Culture & Geeks vs. Snobs via Sam Calagione [Cross post]

Sam, my daughter and I at Craft Beer Celler, March 2011

This is a post I wrote on Craft Beer Social about the difference between beer geeks and beer snobs.

The article was picked and shared by Dogfish Head on both their Twitter & Facebook pages which ended up driving a lot of traffic to the site (as of 3/19/11, the page has 79 “tweets”, 682 Facebook “Likes” and thousands of views).  It was very exciting to read some of the comments and overwhelmingly people seem to consider themselves beer “geeks”.

Read on for more…

Craft Beer Culture & Geeks vs. Snobs via Sam Calagione

The craft beer industry has seen amazing growth in the past few years and we, as hobbyists of all things beer, need to remember what we like about craft beer.

Google is reporting the search volume index of ‘craft beer’ has nearly doubled in the past two years.  The definition of craft beer has been expanded to include Boston Beer Co. (Sam Adams) growth.  American craft beers are even going global.  It’s a pretty safe to say there’s a lot going on in the industry right now.

One of my favorite aspects of the craft beer industry is the culture.  The craft beer culture, to me, is friendly, outdoorsy, dog-loving, and social – all things I love.  I love that craft beer is such a social thing – everyone wants to talk, trade, share, and drink beer together.  There are no ‘experts’ and while palates might differ in experience, none are wrong.  It’s, in part, what differs the craft beer and wine industries.  (Gary Vaynerchuk is a big advocate in changing this aspect of the wine industry)

As the craft beer industry explodes in popularity it, like any organization, will be challenged to keep its culture firmly grounded.  We’ve seen many for-profit organizations lose touch with their culture as they grow and more unique personalities join the mix.  One behavior I see as cancerous to the craft beer culture is the birth of beer snobs.

Sam Calagione, the founder of the infamous Dogfish Head Brewery and godfather to modern craft beer has made a clear distinction between “beer geek” and “beer snob”:

There’s beer geeks and there’s beer snobs, and I’m a card-carrying, dyed-in-the-wool member of the beer geek community. How I differentiate between a beer geek and a beer snob is this: they could have an equal amount of knowledge about beer; they could have equally awesome palates; [they] can articulate everything about the qualities of beer; [and they can] tell you the history of brewing styles. Their knowledge might be the same. But a beer geek loves beer because he or she loves beer, and they want to learn more always, try new beers, and share that with the people they love. Whereas beer snobs try to know as much as they can about beer as a power point and to lord it over people, or to stick out as an expert in a field of neophytes.  [Source]

This is the most eloquent description of the difference that I’ve read and something I think we should all keep in mind and a message worth spreading to new and old craft beer fans alike.

Beer is supposed to be fun, not stuffy and serious.  Every beer has its place (yes, even that Bud Light Clamato I find disgusting) and there’s nothing wrong with enjoying all the aspects of beer responsibly.

Then again, I’m no expert, I’m just a geek in Sam’s world trying to get a beer.


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