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I like beer. I like drinking it, discovering it, and I just recently started brewing it. Needless to say, one of my common topics of conversation is beer (of course there are plenty more, and beer is not my go-to for sure).

When people say “yeah I like beer” in conversation and I mention that I brew my own, they ask “oh well how does that work?” What seems to happen at this point is that I start talking about the process in a simplified manner: steeping/mashing grains, boiling the resulting “sugar water”, adding hops and flavorings, cooling and adding yeast, and adding primary sugar and bottling - people tend to get annoyed. I guess they believe it should be some short process like making tea... but it’s not.

And when I fully explained the process to a person who seemed interested, it apparently spread around a new group of friends that I was a beer snob. I’m not sure how that happened other than being excited about explaining a hobby to a friend. Now if I talk about beer in any remote way, I’m referred to as a beer snob. This is patently untrue; I just like making it and if people are interested in how it’s made, discussing the process.

I can’t shake this persona of being a beer snob. I tried to explain brewing in the simplest terms possible (I can give an exact paragraph of the type of language I would use, if necessary). If I mention beer now, I’m just pretentious.

How do I convince people that I’m not a beer snob, and eliminate such assumptions about my character in the future?

  • I'm curious what you mean by 'if I mention beer now'. Does that mean you say 'Me and my friends had a few beers' (most neutral), 'I had this really special beer last weekend' (a bit more down the scale of likely perceived as 'snobby') or are you, when mentioning beer, talking about the actual brewing, flavours, brands really in-depth? Also, how 'serious' do these new friends seem to be about the 'beer snobbery'? Is it teasing, or are they seriously using it to dismiss/end a conversation? – Tinkeringbell Jan 18 at 18:36
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    @Tinkeringbell great comment! “If I mention beer now” refers to last weekend where I said that the beer we were drinking tasted like water (and I wasn’t being facetious...). But if I go any further than just describing the taste, I’m perceived as a snob. Even just talking about the taste, as in “oh it has some chocolate and coffee flavors”, it’s received... in a way. It definitely sounds like they’re teasing and they’re not really annoyed that I’m talking about beer, but at the same time it seems that a passion of mine is invalidated because I go into too much detail... – Chris Cirefice Jan 18 at 18:40
  • Cool! So, one more thing: is this about discussing beer from now on, like the current title says, or more about preventing/getting rid of the beer snob image like your last sentence? – Tinkeringbell Jan 18 at 20:01
  • @Tinkeringbell more to eliminate the existant stigma... I am perfectly capable of not discussing beer, but it is a hobby that is important to me and I would like to be able to discuss it without ruining relationships because of this topic. – Chris Cirefice Jan 18 at 20:07
  • Not exactly the same as this question, but see my answer to a different question here: interpersonal.stackexchange.com/a/19656/3089 tl;dr: People who ask about your hobby probably don't want the full story, but that doesn't mean they wouldn't be interested in a little tidbit. Give them one step, one hint, one story. Let them ask more if they want to know more. Right now your friends are just ribbing you a bit, let it happen and they'll move on to other things eventually. – Bryan Krause Jan 18 at 22:08
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I can see how you may feel that your interest is invalidated by your friends' response. However, being known as a ___ snob (wine, beer, food, film, etc) may lead to teasing, but it doesn't in general have the same strong connotations of negative character traits and unpleasant personal qualities as being generally 'snobby' does.

I think your friends probably mean it quite lightheartedly, and you would have the best results to respond in a similarly light manner. For example:

I'm not a beer snob, I'm a beer geek. Beer snobs are picky and judgmental about beer, beer geeks are just really excited about it.

You can also address their impression that your might be overly picky and particular by being careful not disparage their own tastes in beer, even if you find them plain or bland. Often a claim of snobbery can be a reactive response to the feeling, justified or not, that one's own preferences or level of knowledge are being judged and found wanting. If anyone seems generally interested in talking beer with you, don't feel like you need to downplay your interest or passion, but just take care that you don't end up monopolizing the conversation for a long time when the other person is only taking a polite or casual interest.

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Congratulations! You've started down the path of earning a title among your friends--you're almost "The Beer Guy." Having a title means that any time someone in the group is having a beer, they'll be thinking of you. It means any time you grab beers together with the friends, they'll be watching you closely and waiting to see if you say or do anything with the beer. It means that you can expect to get beer socks/beer coasters/beer everything as presents from this group during the holidays/your birthday.

This is where you could be, but you're not quite there yet--and it all depends on how you deal with this. It would be perfectly reasonable, if this makes you uncomfortable, to talk to one of the friends you're closest to in the group about this and then consciously not say anything about beer whenever you're with them until this dies down. But if I were you, I'd prefer to walk the title path and be more true to myself.

To earn the title, you have to own it! Embrace your love of beer and share it with this group. If you say something about the flavor and you get some eye rolls and teasing, embrace it and show them that it's fine to make jokes about it with some self deprecating humor!

Oh, how it pains me. The life of a beer lover is a lonely one.

And if you want to get closer to them, see if they'd be interested in learning more!

By the way guys, that new brewery just opened up down off 5th. What do you say we go down there and taste some flights together? I'd love to enjoy some beer with all of you and maybe we could talk flavors while we're tasting.


In the future, if you're ever approached by someone who finds out you brew and they ask "oh well how does that work?" Since you know now that your explanations may be more than what people are usually looking for, ask them what they're looking for!

There's actually a lot involved, what did you want to know?

This way you can sort out the people who are asking to be polite (they probably just want an answer of "It's actually very difficult" or "Put stuff in and then wait for it to ferment!") and the people who are genuinely interested in what you're doing.

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I like the other answers here as well, but wanted to describe one other angle of the situation/strategy to address it: you can try to match the level of discussion your friends use when talking about beer.

If their main beer of choice is Budweiser, it's a fair bet that they aren't hunting out notes of chocolate and coffee when they drink it. If your comments on beer revolve around elements that they don't (or can't, for whatever reason) notice, then you are pushing the conversation into a region where they can't really follow. Some people do that earnestly, and some do it specifically to show off how "refined" and "advanced" their tastes are.

And this sort of thing tends to come down to attentive experience, so when you describe flavors that others don't or can't notice the implication is that you are a superior beer consumer. This impression can exist no matter what your tone or attitude in conversation, even if you're being completely earnest in your appreciation of your drink. The effect is magnified if you say something negative about a beer that your friends are enjoying:

This beer tastes like water!

won't land well with someone who is enjoying that beer, not just because you happen not to like it but because you are describing it as an inferior beer that a connoisseur like yourself couldn't possibly find satisfying.

As for what I would do to address the issue, I would recall the level of detail and types of observations your friends are making and then keep your comments around that level. If someone says

This beer is cold and delicious!

a response about how it tastes the way your favorite Medieval French poem makes you feel is off-point. (I doubt that's anything like what you're saying, I'm exaggerating for rhetorical effect).

That would limit your ability to talk about a genuine interest of yours, though, and you don't have to settle for that. A way I've gotten people to look a bit more deeply at this sort of thing (though with whisky) is to arrange tastings of multiple kinds in one sitting and then try to encourage discussion from others about what they do and do not like.

I try to keep my own observations back, at least at first, but nudge people to describe their own. The idea being that you can try to increase the amount of detail people think about and discuss, bringing the conversations closer to where you would like them to be.

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