The year 2005 has just begun. Decorations have been taken down; the long, dark, wet, cold winter has begun; New Year’s resolutions have been made. No one knows what each new year will bring, but in the world of Ratebeerians, one thing is certain. There’s a new breed of beer drinker evolving in the world, and this new breed of beer connoiseur will stop at nothing to satiate its hoplust for sampling new beers and acquiring the best beers.
Call them beer fanatics, call them beer geeks, call them whatever you want, just don’t call them if you have a Dreadnaught or Barrel-Aged Speedway Stout around that you’d like to keep for yourself. They are persistent. They are knowledgeable. They are intelligent. They are affluent. And they are growing in numbers. Many of them seek higher numbers of ratings, and relish passing another Ratebeerian the way Mario Andretti relished passing race cars. Many of them don’t care about numbers, they only seek the best of the best, numbers be damned. Many are completionists, and seek to try every beer of a particular brewer, state, or region, or one from each. Many are session or style freaks, limiting their intake to several favorite styles. Many of them are just along for the ride, unaggressively allowing beer to find them in their travels or travails. The new breed of beer drinker can be compared to a wild west gunslinger, collecting ratings like an outlaw collecting notches in his gun belt. The new breed seeks beers like a bee seeks nectar, like a trophy hunter seeks a man-eating tiger, like a nymphomaniac seeks man meat. The new breed doesn’t always agree with each other (you only need to check out the OT-Medium forum to verify that) but they have an all-encompassing respect for each other.
One thing that is universally agreed upon by the new breed is that the largest commercial beers in the USA and Canada suck ass. The new breed would just as soon tar and feather the Augie Busch 4s and Pete Coors’ of the world than pour their beers down the drain. Augie Busch and Pete Coors are multi-millionaires in real life, so why do they always feel the need to seem like “normal guys” in their commercials, the new breed wonders? Yeah, Pete Coors is up in the snowy mountains, and he’d just love to build a snowman with Joe Average American. Augie Busch 4 wears a holiday sweater and talks about his family, and then belies his own arrogance by telling us that his great grandfather personally delivered beer to FDR. Definite unbeermanlike conduct there, Augie, with a roughing the palate thrown in for good measure. To Ratebeerians, guys like these are modern day snake oil salesmen, reaping grossly inflated profits from an American public so susceptible to media influence that they would probably drink strychnine if Tom Brokaw told them it was good for their health.
Many new breeders will stop at nothing to acquire new beers and top-rated beers. Traveling across the country - they’ve done that. Trading from coast to coast, even across the borders of the US, Canada, and Europe - they’ve done that. Perusing the Ratebeer Events section, the Ale Street News and other trade publications religiously to find the next and closest beer event? Signing up for the automated notification of local beer events from Ratebeer? Yep, that too. Setting up parties and local gatherings, sometimes as small as 3 people. Check. This group is innovative, tight, and jovial. A brotherhood of beer swillers, if you will.
To a new breeder, nothing satisfies like a nice cold one after a hard day’s (or night’s) work. They can sit and discuss just about any beer-related topic one could imagine, from various types of malt and hops to Michael Jackson and Fred Eckhardt to discussions of any style under the sun. A new breeder will gladly discuss for hours whether Stone Russian Imperial Stout is better than Speedway or Dark Lord or Central Waters Bourbon Barrel Stout, whether Dreadnaught is better than Yulesmith or Ruination, whether Imperial Stouts are inherently better than Kölsches, or whether rating systems tends to be more biased toward darker beers. They can discuss dozens of possible adjectives just to describe a beer’s head, and pontificate about whether Cascade or East Kent Goldings hops create a better IPA. They write beer reviews as enthusiastically as Hemingway wrote about the sea. If degrees were given in beer knowledge, these guys would all have Ph.Ds.
New breeders will openly discuss any beer-related topic you want to, but they tend to be unassuming, and are often hard to locate. They are proud of their beer hobby, but don’t ever boast or brag about it. They prefer to stay in the shadows unless they are at a gathering of their own. Sort of like the Masons of Ales and Lagers. They can be elusive, they can be shy, and they can be hard to find. Many new breeders carry pens and clipboards to document their beer studies, and these are often the only methods of detection. Also, watch out for the unveiling of new beer styles at brewpubs and fests. New breeders love new styles, and flock to beer festivals. So the next time you see someone jotting notes while smelling a pint of beer with the fervor of a perfume tester, or examining a beer’s head as if he lost his wife’s wedding ring in it, don’t dismiss them or ridicule them. Embrace them. For this is the new breed of beer drinkers, who are on a quest to educate the drinking public toward good beers and away from Clydesdale piss. Thank them for their hard work, the benefit they provide to the drinking public, and their endless dedication. Buy them a pint, if you will, and you will have made a friend forever, and will definitely get a pint of good beer back. New breeders can be considered beer geeks on steroids. Labels don’t bother them. They are proud of their status, proud of their pedigrees, and they are here to stay.
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So the next time you see someone jotting notes while smelling a pint of beer with the fervor of a perfume tester, or examining a beer’s head as if he lost his wife’s wedding ring in it, don’t dismiss them or ridicule them. Embrace them.