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April 04, 2011

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I'd had to think that this is true everywhere. Most of the people I've met in the local (Upstate NY) beer scene are very nice and out-going. Maybe they're a bit too geeky at times but that doesn't mean that they aren't friendly. I'm hoping that this is just an outlier and not becoming the norm.

Sorry, meant to say "hate", not "had"

Anthony, I hope so too. I wrote this piece hoping to find that most NY drinkers have NOT had a similar experience. Geeky shouldn't mean insulting.

I've never had a bad experiences at any breweries being snobbish. I find wineries tend to be more elitist than breweries but I have noticed that craft beer drinkers as a whole tend to be much more judgmental than wine drinkers. I am definitely a craft beer lover but I have been criticized by fellow CB lovers for liking Sam Adams or having an affinity for Blue Moon. Beer geeks need to be inclusive not exclusive!

should have gone with eagle rock brewery in LA. and I'm pretty sure I know the brewery (pasadena) that you're referring to

I have a hard time thinking one instance makes the entire craft beer industry snobby. I was just out in Paso Robles, visited Firestone Walker brewery, and the staff treated us with respect, explaining every part of their process, their beers, etc. Perhaps they just came across one difficult person.

Matthew, I've had the same experience. I did want to put this out there to see if anyone had any comments on New York brewery service, though, after hearing about it, since I tend to visit breweries with fellow beer geeks and don't really know what the experience is like for beginners these days. I'm glad to hear you had a good experience at Firestone Walker. They're awesome.

I appreciate taking this instance as an opportunity to write a blog post, but I really think the attitude your friend experienced is aberrant behavior on the part of one person who might have been having a bad day. If that's how that brewery conducts itself on a regular basis they won't be around for long.

I hardly think the concern can be that there are 'too many people' in the craft beer fold. In order to sustain the wonderful number and diversity of craft breweries we currently enjoy in the United States, we need to keep growing the number of people who enjoy and appreciate craft beer (and that enjoyment and appreciation comes in many forms and levels of intensity from the person who branches out beyond the macros to enjoy the likes of the occasional Sierra Nevada or Sam Adams all the way to the hardcore craft beer junky who has opinions about IBU and glassware.)

Making this a rarified hobby is just stupid. These breweries are in business to make money after all (and yes to create finely crafted products as well, but they need to keep the lights on too). The micro-breweries I've dealt with (including several in New York state) generally are very welcoming, friendly, and happy to introduce newbies to their world. It's good for business, and since most of them do little advertising, word of mouth is their most powerful marketing tool. You don't get positive recommendations if you're a d!ck about it.

Where you DO see prejudice towards newbies is among some of the real hard-core craft beer geeks who turn their nose up at anyone who knows less than they do about craft beer (which is just about everyone). They're an off-shoot of the same family tree which includes the music snob who does the same thing with music.

The best definition I've seen of beer snobs comes from Dogfish's Sam Calagione:

"Beer snobs try to know as much as they can about beer as a power point and to lord it over people, or to stick out as an expert in a field of neophytes."

These are the people to watch out for generally, not the brewers themselves.

And by the by, if anyone's interested in joining the welcoming ranks of the friendly beer geeks (who don't get overly technical about the subject), I invite them to join us over at our blog, http://craftbeersocial.com (or @craftbeersocial on Twitter). Come on in, the water's fine!

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