How I Became an Accidental Beer Snob
Growing up, I never thought that there was anything special about beer. I thought that the best beer was the cheapest beer. To me, it never tasted great, but it didn’t taste that bad, either. I was used to seeing the same six or so brands selling either light or dark beer, and that was about the extent of my knowledge.
This completely changed when I moved to Eugene and started working with Drawn, one of whose clients is a local craft brewery. Eugene is known for its craft beer scene and abundance of local breweries, and when I got here, it seemed like everyone around me — including my co-workers — knew a lot more about beer than I did. I learned that the craft beer community is a little more high-brow and knowledgable about the things going into their beer than I was used to. It reminded me a lot of fine wine. I discovered that there is even an entire culture around these beers, from Instagram pages and hashtags to magazines, websites, and events. So when I began working with this brewery, there was a huge learning curve.
"To me, [beer] never tasted great, but it didn’t taste that bad, either. I was used to seeing the same six or so brands selling either light or dark beer, and that was about the extent of my knowledge."
I had never thought of beer as being scientific until I started watching the brewers at their lab, mixing compounds and producing such interesting results. That is when I went from thinking that “any beer is beer” to really understanding the thought and effort that goes into creative and amazing craft beers.
To aid in my own personal education, I also began following beer Instagram pages and hashtags, reading up on the community, and taking very detailed notes every time we would meet with the brewers. There have been many times when I needed to research the terminology, think like our client’s customers, and pay close attention to the feedback that I get from both the client and their fans.
Since I started living in this beer world, I’ve learned what barrel aging is, what goes into brewing a beer and the ingredients that give it its flavors, what ABV and IBU stand for (admittedly, pretty basic stuff for regular beer drinkers), the care that goes into each project, the somewhat unpredictable nature of the science, and how to build brand loyalty with your beers. I used to think that the best beer was the kind that came in the least expensive 30-packs. Now, I know that 4-packs — or even individual bottles — have the greatest value. Not only do I appreciate beer, but I also know beer. You might even call me a beer snob.
I think that this strategy of complete immersion is effective for all of our clients, across the board. I guess if I call myself a beer snob, I could also consider myself a soil snob, a chip snob, a non-dairy ice cream snob, and even a plumbing snob.