No doubt you've been told at some point that the best thing about craft beer is the people. I'm here to tell you that the worst thing about craft beer is also the people. Take a look at this rogues' gallery. These five sanctimonious posers are guaranteed to put new drinkers off craft beer for good. Does anyone here sound like someone you know?
The Haze Bro
You've met this dude already. He’s the craft beer version of basic. He doesn't like beer to taste of beer. But fruit salad? That's just fine. He likes to sneer at lager drinkers because he doesn’t trust any beer you can’t see through.
He's fussy about freshness and proud of his ability to read a date code from the bottom of a can faster than anyone else. By the time you find the code on yours he's already put his back on the shelf because at 17 days it's “too old.”
He gets all his beer news from the 'gram and Untappd, and spends long afternoons at work scrolling through them figuring out the optimal route home via any number of his favored juice merchants.
He loves nothing more than hanging out in a taproom, wearing his girlfriend's skinny jeans, reminiscing with his friends about the 20 different beers they had last week, all of which looked like OJ that had been left sitting out in the sun too long.
The Pastry Chef
It's all about the stout for this guy. He lives for adjuncts and big, barrel-aged beers. He might be a bit burly himself, but that's just because he's built that way. It's certainly nothing to do with all the calories in those 19% bourbon-barrel-aged maple-bacon donut porters he likes to pound. And by the way, have you tried the toasted marshmallow version? Totes. Amaze.
Your typical Pastry Chef likes to look down on the “Haze Bro herd,” as he calls them. "All those beers look the same, man. There's like 50 different ones every week and all that changes are the hops." But he'll think nothing of dropping his hard-earned dollars on every variant of Bourbon County Stout and claim they're all totally different beers.
The Wild Child
You can recognize a Wild Child by the weird look she gets in her eyes when someone mentions yeast. She's on first-name terms with a whole host of microbes like Wild Sacc, Brett, and Dekkera. It's not that she looks down on beers fermented with commercial yeast; it's just that she feels personally disappointed you haven't yet moved on to airborne inoculation.
If you ask her about a mixed fermentation beer, she'll tell you about the time she went foraging with the brewer. There's a nettle beer aging in an imported amphora somewhere that has her name on it. It'll be great in three years' time. She talks like that weekend-morning cookery show you stopped watching because it all got a bit too much with the provenance and the terroir and the bullshit.
She's writing a thoroughly researched blog post on coolships that’s so long it may as well be a book. Did you know they used to be common across Europe? We only think of them as Belgian now because brewers there continued using them to make their weird, stanky-ass beers while everyone else invested in more modern brewing equipment as soon as they could.
So called because he's always hunting whales. To him beer is best when it's a hot commodity that can be traded for likes or views or whatever imaginary cool-point is on the want right now. It's not clear whether he even likes beer for its flavor.
If he does stoop to drinking a beer rather than trading it, he'll be sure to tell you how hard it was to get ahold of. All while posting it to his Insta stories, because what's the point if no one else knows he's had it?
Cap'n Ahab will go to enormous lengths to land a particular bottle or can. There's no brewery too distant, no line too lengthy. But his favourite M.O. is to take the inside track, snagging beers from a guy who knows a guy. If you, Joe Public, can't get hold of a beer, it only makes him want it more. "Oh, this? Yeah this was a limited release only given out to brewers backstage at this festival I went to last month in Norway."
Nothing's too obscure for the Completist. Her Untappd makes brewers jealous. She's studying for her Advanced Cicerone, so she needs to know all the styles backwards and forwards. She may have come out to the bar with you tonight but she’s not drinking per se. Instead she’s learning to distinguish her pilsner from her helles from her Dortmunder Export because she has to retake her tasting exam next week. She's turned beer into homework, but she's happy with that. It’s her excuse for being triple parked.
It doesn't matter that you only mentioned in passing that you had a PBR the other day. That was five minutes ago and she hasn't stopped talking since. She's onto Prohibition now, God knows how, and it feels like it's going to be a long evening.
She'll tell you about her time judging at a beer competition. She wants you to know it was kind of a big deal without having to come right out and say it. You catch words in there that might be beers—Grodziskie, Lichtenhainer—but then again they could be dogs. You're not entirely sure.
OK, I promised five and here I am launching into number six, but bear with me. This is the important one, the character you will see most often when you go out to drink craft beer. And thank goodness for that.
I have been all of the people listed here to some degree. We all act absurdly from time to time when we get caught up in this drink that we love and which brings us pleasure. But most of us recognize that not everyone feels the same way. Most of us remember that it doesn't really matter what you're drinking, as long as you're enjoying it.
If, or perhaps when, you catch yourself acting like any of these caricatures then please just chill. It's beer. It's supposed to be fun.
Illustration by Adam Waito