The Session No. 83: Against the Grain

This month’s Session* topic is hosted by Rebecca of The Bake and Brew. Rebecca, who smartly wears a helmet when jumping off light posts, asks about influence.  More specifically:

How much is our taste or opinion of a craft beer affected by what friends and the craft beer community at large thinks? What beer do you love that no one else seems to get? Or what beer do you say “no thanks” to that everyone can’t get enough of?

I can find myself wondering sometimes when I’ve had an extremely popular beer, but haven’t been all that “wowed”…is it me? Am I missing something here? Was there too much hype? Could there be such a thing as taste inflation? If we really want to dive further into this, is it really only “good” if a large portion of the craft beer community says it is or is our own opinion and taste enough?

My short answer is, no Rebecca, I’m 99% sure you’re not missing anything.**  In fact, kudos to you for “going against the grain.” 

By going against the grain, I don’t mean being a constant contrarian. You know, that guy who constantly argues or claims he likes Ska music because he thinks it makes him unique. Damn hipsters, too.  But I digress.

Not realizing this was an upcoming Session topic, I wrote a similar post last month: The Magical Words of Beer. 

To recycle a bit, none of us is immune to multiple sources of persuasion whether they be pure marketing speak or the well founded opinions of a friend. Avoiding it takes critical thinking that is sometimes difficult to apply. 

Tell me you’re not predisposed to rate a “rare” imperial stout higher after you paid $18+ for the bomber and spent two months trying to locate it. We NEED that beer to be good. We really don’t want to find out we blew $18+ bucks on a crappy beer.

Worse, buying into the hype can actually hinder your beer journey.  If the beer you buy needs to score above, say, an 85 on beer advocate, or get at least a 3.8 on untapped before you”ll drink it, I guarantee you’re missing out on a lot of great beer.

Why? Who gets to tell you what great beer is? I sure don’t. I’m happy to tell you what great beer is to me, but don’t come looking to me to tell you what great beer is to you.  There is a gigantic difference between helping someone explore beer and telling someone what their experience should be with any particular beer.

One of the best parts about beer is we can gather round the bar stool and enjoy a good debate about the “best” beer and both be right.  Like what you like, seek out something new wherever you go, and enjoy the journey. 

*Today is the first Friday in January which means it’s time to take part in The Session, a collective effort of beer bloggers around the world to write on a common topic once each month.
** I don’t know Rebecca, so the 1% is reserved in the highly unlikely chance she actually IS that weirdo who really doesn’t get it.