Down with beer snobs, up with arrogant bastards

Nov 16, 2016 at 11:04 am
Falls City Brewing Company unleashed its latest seasonal, Red Rye Lager, on draft and bottles
Falls City Brewing Company unleashed its latest seasonal, Red Rye Lager, on draft and bottles

If it tastes good, drink it.

I was at Hilltop Tavern in Clifton the other evening, watching NFL football and sipping a Bell’s Two-Hearted Ale, when a young man, 30-ish, walked up and began to ponder the latest entries on the white board bearing the day’s draft beer selections.

Hilltop isn’t a large place, and doesn’t really have a lot of taps, but it always has an interesting, varied selection; because there aren’t 1,000 taps like at a mega-bar, beers rotate through quickly, meaning a surprise new brew is always just around the corner.

Well, the man, who had dark hair and a beard, finally looked at the bartender and said, “I guess I’ll just be lame and order a Guinness.”

Lame? Has beer snobbery come to such a point that a person somehow feels embarrassed to order a time-honored classic? There are those who argue that Guinness isn’t what it used to be, which may be true, and there are better stouts to be found, as well, but I was taken aback at his self-deprication.

And so, the bartender chuckled and pulled a delicious-looking, black glass of heaven, which the man took and then walked away.

But it got me to thinking about the snobbery of craft beer at some levels of the hobby, if you want to call it that, and it just seems ridiculous and unfortunate how intimidated some people are by what should be fun. It seems there is a fear of being chastised at a craft-beer bar if one doesn’t possess enough knowledge to order something trendy.

But beer, down through history, has been used as a liquid refreshment that is perfect for bringing us together, not tearing us apart. (Frankly, there is enough going on in America right now that is tearing us apart, but that’s another topic.) For example, a German beer garden was never meant for scrutinizing one another, it was mean for singing and dancing and washing away a trying work week. An English pub is designed to stimulate conversation over a pint of whatever one might want to drink, be it Guinness Extra Stout, Pliny the Elder, Harp Lager or (gasp!) Bud Light.

My point is this: If you run across someone who doesn’t know anything about craft beer, that’s your opportunity to introduce them to something new. Teach them. If craft beer is to continue as a popular hobby (there’s that word again) and a point of socialization, we need all the palates we can get.

Adopting an Arrogant Bastard

Against the Grain was one of a handful of breweries around the country to be chosen to “adopt” Arrogant Bastard Ale to celebrate its 20th birthday. Arrogant Bastard, originally brewed by Stone Brewing Co., was, as Against the Grain’s announcement so accurately worded it “the champion of craft beer back in the day.”

As in, you always remember your first Arrogant Bastard Ale. My first was sometime in the early 2000s at Rich O’s Public House (now New Albanian Brewing Company), and I didn’t much like the intensely-bitter American strong ale that seemed to taste like everything at once. I was into the smooth, malty stuff back then and hadn’t put on my hop pants yet.

Anyway, it will be an afternoon-long release party at the brewery and smokehouse starting with a tapping of Against the Grain’s version at 1 p.m. Proceeds from the event will benefit local service industry charity Apron Inc.

Red Rye Lager hits stores

Falls City Brewing Company unleashed its latest seasonal, Red Rye Lager, on draft and in bottles. You should be able to find it at most liquor stores.

Red Rye Lager is an accessible red rye, brewed with Munich and caramel malts with a touch of spiciness and a subtle taste of rye and caraway — mostly, it’s just a nicely done beer that’s easily sessionable with just 4.5-percent alcohol by volume.

“Our goal was to use spice to balance the sweetness of the malt,” Falls City head brewer Dylan Greenwood said in a statement. “Caraway is often used as a spice in breads, particularly rye bread, so the combination of caraway and rye is a time-tested flavor combination that translated well into a beer.”