In September of 2009 I wrote a column called Beer Snobs in which I carried on about the wave of snobbery that had accompanied the craft brewery explosion of that time. It seemed there were increasingly more instances when strangers, friends, bartenders and bratty little BevMo clerks razzed me if I tried to buy a light beer. I was frankly amazed by how people could exhibit such a heightened sense of superiority over something so genetically random as the manner in which a cluster of cranial nerves perceives the continuum of flavors of a particular recipe as it streams across the thousands of papillae that comprise the gustatory system of any given individual.
Oh well, I thought. San Diego is clearly at the peak of its hopularity so the snobbery can't get worse. But 2009 was not the peak, and the snobbery did get worse. Much worse. Because even though our county had seen an incredible jump in the craft beer industry in the'90s, it wasn't until 2009 when things really began to take off. That was when the San Diego Brewers Guild arrived, which helped usher in even more craft breweries followed by even more craft aficionados until our little burg became known as the microbrewing capital of America—something else to feel snobby about.
Now, before all you suds enthusiasts initiate the launch sequence on the cluster of smart missiles you currently have trained on my coordinates, let me clarify something. I have nothing but respect for aficionados of craft brew. The word "aficionado" traces back to the Latin affectio (which means "affection") which further traces back to afficere (to influence) which says it all. An aficionado has great affection for an object or activity and wants to influence others that they may enjoy it, too. That's a beautiful thing. However, the snob takes it a step further. A snob will openly mock you if you don't agree with his or her tastes. They think their palates are superior which makes them more dignified than you. And maybe I do have a janky palate, what can I say? I simply do not enjoy craft beers. But don't hold back on my account. You will not meet a more ferocious proponent of the You-Drink-What-You-Like-and-I'll-Drink-What-I-like-and-Anyone-Who-Doesn't-Approve-Can-Go-Fuck-a-Box-of-Hot-Cat-Asses worldview. Nor do I begrudge the craft beer movement in general which, you know, has been responsible for the reverse gentrification of my neighbeerhood. Because in order for the darker beers to move in, the local drinking establishments had to evict the pale ones. The Rolling Rocks, the Michelobs, the Molsons, the Heineys, the Becks, Bass and Blue Ribbons have all but disappeared from the local tap racks. Still, I harbor no grudge. It is what it is. However what is not an it-is-what-it-is situation is the ever-increasing remarks when I dare ask for a light beer. Which brings us to—the incident.
After a long, depressing staff meeting, a couple of colleagues dragged me to a North County gastro pub. After asking the waitress which microbreweries they had on tap, my companions chose the Watermelon Wheat. When it was my turn to order, I asked if they carried Bud Light on tap. After a series of groans and eye-rolls from my friends, the waitress explained that they only had bottled Bud. So I ordered that with a mug.
Upon returning, the waitress delivered the watermelon beers and plunked three blueberries in each. Then she placed an empty glass before me, turned the Bud bottle upside down and let the beer plummet to the bottom of my glass, from a significant height, causing the foam spill over the brim—an act that will suck the life out of a beer as surely as a drum solo will murder the momentum of a rock show. And when I whined to my companions about how I hate flat beer, they both scoffed.
"Who cares?" said A. "It's only Bud Light."
"It's not even a real beer!" added B.
Now these are both personable, smart and mostly excellent gents. And it probably was just a good-natured ribbing they were dispensing. But it was too late. The froth of my temperament had spilled over the brim of my tolerance one too many times for me not to retort.
"Not real beer!?" I snapped. "That's funny coming from the guys who drink watermelon beer. Watermelon! I've seen you and your sort drink honey-flavored beer, chocolate-flavored beer, vanilla-flavored beer, habanero pepper-flavored beer, pineapple, mango, apricot, peaches and cream, raspberry, apple—for every fruit that exists there is a craft beet that is infused by it—ditto nuts, ditto vegetables, mint, pie, pumpkin, pizza, Maple Bacon Coffee Porter and, well, I drink beer-flavored beer. And because I like the taste of beer in my beer, I do not mask it with blueberries. I do not hide it with lemon or lime. I don't need no stinking wedges! No slices, no twists, no peels or wheels of orange or kiwi. I drink beer flavored beer and garnish it with more beer."
OK, maybe I didn't say it quite like that. But the point remains. I have no interest in mocking your taste. Just don't drink watermelon wheat and tell me I'm the one not drinking real beer. I drink beer-flavored beer. Tastes just fine to me.