The Difference Between Beer Lovers and Beer Snobs: Which are You?

The Difference Between Beer Lovers and Beer Snobs: Which are You?

You love sipping on beers and sampling a broad variety of brewed beverages, but how do others see your obsession?  Make sure you’re regarded as a beer loving expert and not an elitist douche.

By Xandy Bustamante

Don’t be a Beer Snob!”

I hear this phrase every so often from my girlfriend (usually followed by a tiny fist of fury to my shoulder) as I am trying to explain to her the complexities of a Belgian Sour or when I cough ‘don’t do it’ as someone buys a 24 pack of the ‘silver bullet” at the corner store.

After her latest “don’t be a Beer Snob” comment I have been thinking about what it actually means to be a ‘Beer Snob.’ And more importantly why do I hate to be called one?

Being a Beer Snob is being the exact opposite of everything that is great about beer. Beer is enjoyed by everyone from CEO’s to wine-makers to construction workers, it is cheap, it is refreshing, and best of all it is an equalizer. Everyone enjoys sitting down and talking over a beer while watching the game. Heck it’s an American tradition.

With over 78 recognized styles of beer and over 1,400 hundred breweries operating in the United States there is a beer out there for everyone. While I may not like a certain beer, chances are that it is someone’s number 1, all time favorite, mouthwatering, beer soul mate and that is pretty cool.

So after many days of contemplation and sucking down several Bud Lights (just to prove to my girlfriend that I am not the Beer Snob she claims me to be) I have finally decided what it means to be a Beer Snob, and what it means to simply be a Beer Lover.

A Beer Snob:

  • Only drinks Belgians, IPA’s, Imperial Stouts, etc. and believes it is beneath them to drink anything else.
  • Laughs to himself when they see someone order anything but a micro.
  • Wears designer jeans, a cardigan, a sports-coat, and brand new loafers to enjoy their favorite brew.
  • Has never considered homebrewing.
  • Only orders from the beer book instead of what is on tap. Orders a round of their favorite Belgian Sour for their friends who don’t know what a sour beer is.
  • Is an asshole.

A Beer Lover:

  • Drinks whatever their friends are drinking.
  • Picks the beer with the funniest tap handle.
  • Wonders why they picked the $10 imperial stout when their friend orders the delicious $2 PBR.
  • Wears their favorite brewery T-shirt, Costco jeans, and a sweet pair of tennies.
  • Can brew at home.
  • Asks the Bartender for a recommendation.
  • Buys their friends a round without them even knowing.
  • Is a good person.

So what does this all mean you ask? I don’t want to be a Beer Snob you say. How do I avoid being a Beer Snob you ponder?

Well here are some simple rules to follow:

Never:

  • Say a beer tastes bad.
  • Complain if the service is slow.
  • Look down upon someone buying a beer that you don’t like.
  • Sniff a beer in public.
  • Tell someone you have a great palate.
  • Wear a cardigan.

Always:

  • Offer a friend a taste.
  • Practice Beer Karma. (buy a round for your friend)
  • Learn something new about beer.
  • Ask people what their favorite beer is.
  • Finish your beer. (Mom says “it’s just polite”)
  • Try something new.
  • Tip well. (Dollar a beer is good)
  • Say Cheers.

There you go, instead of being a Beer Snob now you are a Beer Lover, and trust me everyone loves to hang out with people who love beer. Being that guy that everyone wants to have a beer with is easy, just be a good person and try not to break the rules so often, trust me it is a lot better than getting physically abused by your girlfriend.

Seattle’s Beer Blogger grew up in Santa Rosa, CA surrounded by such great breweries as Sierra Nevada and Russian River Brewing. Thanks to a father’s love (of good beer that is) he realized at an early age that beer is too precious a thing to be pumped out of factories reminiscent of Upton Sinclair’s ‘The Jungle.’ Studying, working, and drinking in the Beer Mecca of Boulder, Colorado for 5 years affirmed his belief that craft beer is really the drink of the Gods. Xandy has now moved on to another famous beer region, the Pacific Northwest, and has started to explore what the regions festivals, micro-breweries, and brewpubs have to offer. Check out his blog at www.seattlebeer.blogspot.com.

  • http://jackbusch.net/blog Jack

    “Picks the beer with the funniest tap handle.”

    That really spoke to me.

  • keith

    Beer is an affordable luxery, be bullish!

  • http://www.xanga.com/jacamp16 Jay Campbell

    I get the humor behind this whole thing and I think I hate being called a beer snob as much as the next guy. The only thing I would say is that it’s perfectly fine to smell your beer and there’s nothing wrong with saying a beer tastes bad. It’s ok to smell a cheap beer and it’s ok to say that an expensive beer tastes bad.

  • brian

    I enjoyed the article, but I don’t necessarily agree with all of it.
    -I enjoy sniffing beer, I actually try to make sure my homebrew has a nice aroma.
    -There is no way I’m tipping a buck for someone to pull a tap handle. Get real.
    -There is a reason you “suck” or “choke” down such beers as Bud, Coors, Miller. It’s because they tasted awful. And I have no problem saying it, it’s my opinion.

    R,DW. HAHB.

  • Aaron

    Nice article Xandy! I enjoyed reading it.
    I disagree with the others and agree with you. The key is, like you stated in your article, sniffing your beer in PUBLIC. I think it’s fine for anyone to do that when they are home brewing or at home enjoying some rounds with friends. Although if I saw someone doing that in public, I’d laugh at them because I thought they were beer snobs.

  • http://www.seattlebeer.blogspot.com Xandy

    Thanks for the comments guys.

    I would agree you guys on smelling a beer, in fact I do it all the time. Just realize that to the average person you are looking like a snob, and at the very least try to sneak-o-sniff when in public.

    As far as saying something tastes bad, I would just go with “I don’t like it that much” instead of a frank “it tastes bad” simply more polite I think. Thanks for the comments and enjoy a good Beer.

    Cheers.

  • Mike

    Good points!! I have to admit, I have met very few beers that I didn’t like. I love it all, from Milwaukee’s Best to Bud to Fat Tire to Sam Smith. I don’t give a damn what someone else drinks, as long as they like it.

  • Eric

    Since when does what someone wears matter? Also, sniffing beer is just another way of enjoying beer, how is it snobbish?

    snob (n) : (disapproving) A person who seeks to be a member of the upper classes and looks down on other classes such as lower classes.

  • Lorin

    I enjoyed your article even if I don’t agree with a lot of it—funny stuff there; I feel for you sucking down those Dud Lights. Yiccchh!!!

    I have to say I agree with everyone in disagreeing with your ‘no-sniffing’ rule; at least here in Portland EVERYONE sniffs their beer, or at least sniffs it if it’s: a) a beer that’s new to them, or b) a beer that’s got a particularly pleasing aroma, no matter how many times you’ve drunk it.

    I went to the Oregon Brewer’s Guild dinner last night (a sort of ‘pre-party’ to the Oregon Brewer’s Festival) and I sniffed every last one of the ten or so beers I tried. And I will always call out a crappy-tasting beer (although never in such a way as to make a big deal out of it.) Having brewed a number of awful beers myself (and a few quite good ones) I sort of feel I’ve got the right to call out a bad one when I taste it…

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  • http://www.homebrewcraft.com/ Oz

    Love this article!! I don’t see an “undercover snob” catagory. Im a beer lover, home brewer and don’t own a cardigan. I do, however, have my own taste for beer. I think anyone walking out of the corner store with a crappy beer just doesn’t know any better.
    .-= Oz´s last blog ..Why Try Home Brewing — 5 Good Reasons =-.

  • Bryan

    Beer snobs rule. I love IPA’s and craft beers. PBR, are you kidding? Why not drink some unleaded from the gas station.

  • Barbara S

    I have great pride in never drinking beer from a can. After seeing your list…I’m super proud to be a beer snob. No problems with it at all. In fact to hell with beer lovers. PBR….pshhhh it’s swill.

    -Proud Beer Snob

  • http://seannordquist.hoppress.com Sean Nordquist

    I love it! I wrote a similar article last year about snobbery. We are definitely on the same page.
    .-= Sean Nordquist´s last blog ..The St. Petersburg Beer Scene, Part 1 =-.

  • Stuart

    When I try a new beer, the VERY first thing I do is smell the aroma. If that’s breaking the rules, then I’m WAY guilty. The flavors and aromas of good beers are so complex, you miss out on the fully experience if you don’t get a nose full of the bouquet. The aroma of a beer plays as key a role in its overall flavor as the brewing style, the malts and grains used, and the yeasts. Sorry – I have to disagree – smelling your beer (anywhere) is perfectly fine behavior.

  • Chris

    I’m a beer snob and I know it… I won’t drink a bud light or any other “American Lager”, I think they taste like poop. If I go to a restaurant I’ll ask what they have and if I don’t think it sounds good I’ll go with water (no matter how bad I want a beer). Although I am most certainly a snob I am also a homebrewer. Also, I don’t think that the “beer lover” really loves beer… Most of them probably wouldn’t dig a double IPA or a Russian Imperial Stout.

  • http://www.igotstiffed.com Waiter Rants

    I work at an “international ale house” which basically means we have a lot of different beers on tap and in bottles. You wouldn’t believe how many people come in and expect me to know how to describe the tase of every single beer we have. I mean, just try one or stick with something you know.
    .-= Waiter Rants´s last blog ..Waiting on Rednecks- Not Much Fun- Either =-.

  • Chad

    This list is perfect! I couldn’t have said it better myself (and I had to wikipedia cardigan). I also have a problem with the snobby beer advocate style people that break a beer down in such a way that they miss the whole point. They can’t see the forest for the trees and end up saying a great beer is sub par because of the “nose” or the way it doesn’t pour well. Come on!

  • blue

    Irony at its best.

    This article is a perfect example of hypocrisy. What a snob is, you know, an actual one, is someone who seeks to label and bring down people based on their choice of clothing and personal preference. Whether it be taste or being honest when they dislike something or wearing a cardigan. What the author did in this article is the textbook example of snobbery, and did so so that if anyone were to call him a beer snob in the future he can point to this article and continue to get the approval of his buds who couldnt care less about the taste of it.

    So what if passer by’s think its odd that you’re smelling your beer? Not caring what others think and sniffing your beer anyway is the opposite of being a snob, beer or otherwise, as snobs are seeking to elevate themselves socially.

    Irony at its best.

    Also, protesting mainstream beers that lack in quality is nothing to look down on. There’s a reason they’re all bad and it’s not by virtue of them being popular. A company like corona has profit in mind, they are not beer enthusiasts. That is why they market the way they do, and that is why they cut any cost possible thus compromising tastes.

    Smaller breweries make better beer because theyre not seeking to become big shot companies, and are owned by people who understand that a good beer is more than just a way to get drunk.

    Hating all mainstream beer and enjoying the good stuff is not called being a snob, it’s called having taste buds and not being so impressionable that you let yourself get manipulated by companies just because they have the money for tv commercials.

  • Ted

    Nothing wrong with being a beer afficianado. However, there are some groups (snobs) that have taken what should be an all-inclusive, enjoyable, simple pastime and turned it into a complicated, elitist undertaking.

    I enjoy an IPA, a good ‘ol Bud or whatever stikes my mood that day or night.

    Like “Mike” said above, I don’t care what you drink. If it floats your boat, then so be it.

    There are so-called “expensive” or specialty beers I despise and the same with some cheap ones. I’ve discovered what works for me. The key is to find what tastes great to you, not the price, country of origin or label.

    Oh, Yes..NEVER put a thermomether in your beer glass in public, lol.

  • http://beerwarsmovie.com/ Andrew

    Anyone wanting some enlightening about the beer industry and why there’s this imposed choice “Are you a Bud, Miller, or Coors guy/gal?” instead of the more important question, “Why should I have to choose between these bland, cheap beers when New Belgium, Dogfish Head, Sam Adams, Bells and countless others abide by the mantra that live is just too short to drink cheap beer?”

    check out this documentary called Beer Wars – you will not be disappointed. There’s nothing snobbery about drinking expensive beer. It’s expensive because it’s brewed with care and quality ingredients, not cheap adjuncts. Do some investigating of your own before you let big budget advertising dictate the reality of beer.

  • overfiend

    If I’m considered to be a snob because I truly appreciate fine beers and won’t drink anything that I simply don’t like, then fine, I’m a snob. And, yes, I’m going to continue to sniff my beers. Why? Simply because I love the way that they smell. I love being able to ascertain the different types of hops used in the brewing process. And, yes again, I do stick primarily to IPA’s, barley wines, stouts, trappist ales, porters and a few others. Why? Because they actually taste like something. I prefer my beer potent. I like a huge mouthfeel, with intense hops and enormous bitters. That is simply my preference. I’ve had countless beers from countless other styles, and the heffewizens, ambers, american lagers, brown and red ales and their ilk simply don’t do it for me. I’ve been to many a restaurant where I’ve had to go without a beer with dinner because they do not have what I desire. I wouldn’t really call it snobbery unless you’re purposely being a dick. Instead, this list needs 3 groups: The Snobs, who think they know better, The Connoisseurs, who pretty much do, and the Beer Lovers, who pretty much just love beer.

  • matt

    The only rules are

    1. Don’t be a dick; to each his own.

    2. If someone gives you shit about your beer choice, then the hell with them, just enjoy your beer.

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  • Martin L’Allier

    How about “beer connoisseur”? I think that a few courses in beer tasting and food pairing would had some depth to the author’s understanding of beer.

  • Hophead

    As a home brewer, commercial brewer and a beer lover I have to say that I don’t entirely agree with this article or several of the comments made thereafter.

    Sniffing a beer is part of tasting it, unless there is nothing to smell. In which case there probably isn’t much to taste.

    Cans are becoming a more popular packaging option to craft brewers because they treat beer better than bottles. Need and explanation? Drink a Corona, then drink something from Ska or Half Acre. No skunk!

    Lastly, I’ll always try to get my friends to drink better beer because they’re my friends. If that’s makes me a snob then so be it, but I am a craft brewer by trade and passion.
    Prosit!

  • Brian in Canada

    You can like good beer without being a snob. A large part of taste is smell, a really good beer has a good aroma. I’ll sniff my beer all I damn well please. I love beer, but not all beer is equal. If someone orders me a Bud, I will drink it, as there is no beer I can’t choke down. The key is not being a douche. I love dark beers, but I know not everyone does. I love finding new beers for people to try, and especially when they like them as well, but you don’t push DIPA on people who only drink Miller. There are great “stepping stone” beers – Sam Adams is a perfect example. Part of being a good beer lover in knowing the time and place for everything. If your buddies help you do some heavy sweaty labour, and they are not saavy to different beers, don’t be a douche and only have DIPAs or Chocolate Stouts or Cherry Lambics on hand. Buy some good pale ales or lagers, stuff that’s not outside their comfort zone but also goes better with sweaty labour. There is a time and place for all beers.

  • Bass

    Well stated, there are possibly thousands of beer snobs in so. cal right now as I type. I go in and order a german lager, they are all up sipping sours,doubles and 9% ipa’s. and they look at my pure golden lager and turn away like it’s treason. Beer snobs are in the younger age group newbe to late 20s, they make me laugh.

  • What?

    I’m not trying to be an ass about this, but your classification system is kind of… stupid. I mean, beer is beer, and I love beer. Sometimes I feel like a lager, sometimes I feel like a double IPA. Sometimes I want a Budweiser to go with my shitty hot dogs, and sometimes I want a stout. If you’re going to try to typify a person based on what they’re wearing, and based on their sociability in terms of choosing what their friends are choosing, I imagine you sir are a dimwit.

  • Forrest

    This was the first article I read on this site. I’ll try one more but this was a horrible start. The author is an idiot.

  • http://twitter.com/cbartos1021 Chris Bartos

    Nice article

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=501471782 Erik Fecher

    Wow the definition of a “beer snob” couldn’t be more wrong. Sorry if we actually CARE about what we’re drinking instead of what’s cheap on tap. I believe the AUTHOR is a butthurt asshole. You WISH you knew what good beer was. Oh, and PBR sucks. Frat piss. If you’re going to drink a beer, regardless of situation, DRINK A BEER! Hope you enjoy corn in your Budweiser you faggot! What self respecting beer drinker, craft or not wears a cardigan anyway?!

  • Brian Crocker

    The worst part of the backlash against macro breweries is newb craft/micro lovers tend to thusly look down their noses at ANY lager.  There are some mighty fine micro/craft lagers out there.  I like a good hoppy IPA as much as the next guy, but I don’t ALWAYS want 9% and feel like I’m drinking a pine forest.  Sometimes I want a good, quick thirst quencher, and nothing like a good cold lager for that.  The long-time beer lovers that get my backs up are the West Coast IPA ONLY guys, who will not consider a beer as drinkable unless it has fifty types of hops and is more bitter than a 45 year old recent divorcee.  They forgot that beer is more than hops, and malts are important too.  A good rich malty dark beer is a wonderful thing.  I would rather a good brown ale than the best IPA on the planet every day.

    • rayzzor

      That was funny!

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  • Tappy

    Incorrect. The person who’s homebrewing knows what beer they want, and likes a pretty specific taste that wont be found in PBR. The beer snob is most likely homebrewing, and they do it because they are a beer lover.

  • BigE81

    This guy still comes across as a beer snob– a beer snob trying really hard to not be one. A favorite brewery t-shirt and “tennies”? Who calls them tennies? One way to not be an irritating beer guy is to drink whatever wherever whenever and not talk about it before, during, and after drinking.
    I’ve been on countless brewery tours and I still don’t know how the stuff is made, I just like the finished product.
    By the way, Budweiser is still the king–no matter how many weird spices, fruit slices and ironic labels hipster brewers throw in with their stupid beers.

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  • dodo

    How about ONLY drinks beer from a glass. Will not drink from a bottle!! And it has to be a certain glass for certain beer. It has to hit the palate JUST RIGHT and Only a certain glass will do. If the place does not OFFER you the right glass with your beer then they are idiots. Just saying.

  • Steve

    I suppose I’m somewhere in between then? I won’t drink only specific styles of beer, though I do have preferences. I don’t laugh at people buying non-micros, but I confess to be a bit confused when I see bud light in a high class pub (it’s a bit like seeing a burger made with “authentic kraft cheese singles” in a 4 star restaurant). I would choose Imperial stout over PBR any day of the week. I will try something new, my fashion sense does not play into my sense of taste, I’m absolutely not an asshole, I will sniff beer in public; it smells good. I really think this could just be summed up with, don’t be a prick, and let everyone order what they want.

  • Steve

    Amen brother. oh my, I just realized how old these posts are.

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  • rayzzor

    Bouquet? Really? I smell a pansy.

    • feenie

      Shows how much your know about beer rayzzor. How about another fine PBR for you my friend?

    • Jonathan

      Congratulations, you are definitely NOT a beer snob.
      You are just a homophobic asshole.
      Cheers.

  • rayzzor

    I like “cheap adjuncts”. Who doesn’t like corn?

  • Eric

    You don’t think the nice bartender deserves to be paid? Pour your own beer and don’t waste his time.