“Oh yeah, I’m an expert beer drinker.”
Easy enough to say, right? I mean, let’s forget about the jokester who means that he’s an expert in terms of frequency and volume of his consumption. I’m talking more about the guy who read the Wikipedia entries on hops and barley and now feels like he should get his name changed to Dr. Malty von Yeast Brew. He’ll look down his nose at you if you can’t recite the Reinheitsgebot in its original German or enumerate on the specific strains of hops available in the sub-rural Pacific Northwest from May 17th to June 9th in a Leap Year.
Um, hey, Dr. Malty von Yeast Brew? We get it. If we all promise to think you’re cool, will you stop being super annoying?
Look, I’m not saying we shouldn’t strive to increase our beer expertise. In fact, I’m saying pretty much exactly the opposite. I just think there’s a better way to do it. Forget about focusing on the minutiae and trivia that has no real bearing on the practical experience of actually sitting down to tip a few back. That stuff has its place, but when it’s inelegantly shoehorned into conversations, you end up sounding like a jackass and drinking alone. Not super fun.
Do you know what expertise you should strive for? The kind that actually improves the drinking experience of you and your like-minded friends. The kind that marks you out not as an insufferable blowhard, but an invaluable travel guide in the Land of Lagers (and Ales, Pilsners, and Everything Else Too).
You should be the guy that shows up at a party with the beer everyone wants to drink. Or the guy that can steer an amateur boozer into a pint that leaves him smacking his lips and trying desperately to get the bartender’s attention for Round Two. Or the guy that gently replaces a plastic cup with a more appropriate piece of glassware that’s specially designed to accommodate the specific brew being imbibed.
Of course, it takes time and patience to develop this expertise. You’ll have to experiment on your own and use your experiences, good and bad, to form the base of your knowledge. So go forth into your beer-soaked world with an open mind, an attentive tongue, and a keen eye for the little details that transform a good brew into a great one.