Vacation Repost: June 25th + 26th

Back for more golden oldies? Please enjoy this chart-topper from last June!

Like almost any beer geek, my interests and hobbies are not exclusively limited to the world of beer. My obsession with music has played a much larger role in my life than beer probably ever will. It has been a sordid era (maybe 15 years? 10?) that brought me through my teen angst and into burgeoning adulthood. There was even a brief stint where I fancied myself as a music writer and ended up with tiny contributions to websites small, medium and large (not to mention my own pseudo-music blog, one that is too embarrassing to divulge anymore details about). I interviewed somewhat notable bands and briefly met my musical hero (shameless namedrop alert – Jeff Tweedy). Then I quickly stopped all of it, took some time off and now have this blog.

Men are renowned for being obsessive and competitive with their hobbies, something I will never understand even while at my worst. But the past two weeks, filled with lots of concerts and beer events, have shown me that music fans and beer geeks are two very different types of enthusiasts. The world of music nerdom is a combative game of one-upsmanship, fueled by the need to know the best bands before everyone else and love the most obscure, underground music. If you’ve ever been to a concert, you have overheard this type of conversation. It is like watching two cavemen yell, grunt and bash their clubs to assert dominance (or cops and G20 protesters). For me, this endless game became wearisome and I no longer felt like playing.

Luckily, my experience with beer geeks has been much different in nature. Sure, many of the same characteristics are shared, especially in finding the rarest and most obscure specimens, but beer drinkers are much friendlier towards each other. We all want to find a great beer and are more than willing to share it when we do. Our larger goal is to educate friends, family and strangers about the wonders of craft beer, rather than berate those who drink generic pale lagers (though a lot of that still goes on, it usually isn’t directed at a specific person). There are a lot of people who give off holier-than-thou pretentiousness, but beer geeks do good for the most part, trying to educate rather than preach.

Obviously I’m talking about fairly large generalizations here and there are always exceptions to the rule, but it is a rule I believe in. Some may claim it is not fair to compare the two groups of fans as beer and music are vastly different. Music relies so much on emotion and is more subjective in nature, while beer can be more objectively rated in terms of taste, aroma, body and colour. Personal taste still counts for a lot, but at least every drinker is evaluating the same aspects. The same can’t be said for music – I remember the biweekly Scene magazine in London, Ontario rated albums in terms of music and production, which was absolutely silly. There is a school of thought in the beer world that tastes also have emotional resonance – that the taste of a good fruit beer can take me back to my childhood and the raspberry bushes that were in my backyard. Personally, I think that idea is a bit zany, though I enjoy the sentiment.

Sites like Ratebeer and Beer Advocate have also made it easier for all beer lovers to have access to the same information, creating a more level playing field. Pitchfork, the indie music institution, has probably worsened the problem for music lovers. Maybe it is because society takes beer less serious than music. This frothy liquid is meant for enjoyment! We’d drink wine if we wanted to be pretentious (whoops, more generalizations!). What’s my point? Pretty much that I’d rather be sitting around talking about beer than music. Any takers?

This post was thought up while drinking Schneider & Brooklyner Hopfen-Weiss and St. Ambroise Pale Ale (and while avoiding the G20 riots).

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