Friday, May 4, 2012

Explaining My Passion for Craft Beer (How Not to Sound Like an Alcoholic)

It happens from time to time that someone will make the mistake of asking me a general question about beer.  This tends to be something of a double-edged sword since I love to teach, but I can also go pretty overboard.  I quickly come to realize while explaining in depth about the differences in IBUs between an IPA and a light lager that my audience's eyes are quickly glazing over.  Add to that, I have just confirmed their secret belief they have always held that I am a raging alcoholic.

(Just for the record, I rarely have more than 2-3 beers on any given evening, regardless of abv.)

So how do you go about explaining to someone what craft beer is without coming across as a complete alcoholic beer geek?

Actually, it's pretty easy.  Just break it down into terms that anyone can identify with.  Everyone eats food.  Beer is, essentially, a food/beverage just like anything else.  So the next time someone asks you why you prefer craft beer over macroswill, try explaining it like this.

1. Ask them what their favorite home cooked meal was as a kid.  That thing that Mom/Dad/Grandma used to make and everyone made a point to be around for.  Pretty much everyone has one - for me, my Mom's lasagna was (and still is) something I would skip lunch so that I could pig out on at dinner. 

2. Ask them if they have ever had a version of the dish straight out of a can/box/etc...  For me, I've definitely had a microwaved lasagna or two courtesy of Stouffer's or someone similar.  

In simplistic terms, Macroswill is just like the dish in step #2 above.  It gets the job done, and certainly has its place in the overall scheme of things.  Not something I want everyday, but in a pinch it will get the job done. It's what I grab when I'm at the store and in a hurry.

Craft beer on the other hand, is Mom's lasagna.  I know somebody spent some time and effort crafting it.  I know the ingredients that went into it were chosen with care and thought.  Someone put some love into it.   

You can even use the analogy to explain the differences between hi-grav and low-grav beers.  Plain-Jane lasagna versus the heavy handmade restaurant portion with sausage, beef, and 7 cheeses.  Same product, but because one has more oomph you're gonna eat a lot less of it.

IBU's - this lasagna has more oregano than that one!

Suddenly, you sound a lot less like an alcoholic geek and a lot more like a connoisseur!   

Granted, it's not a perfect system, but it gets the point across and really the whole thing is about getting people interested in trying something new - all while skipping the technical stuff that makes people's eyes glaze over.  Once you get them to take that first step into craft beer goodness, the journey is up to them.

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