Not necessarily a “drinker”…
… and not necessarily a “brewer.”
It’s a question of definition that John at Home Brew Manual has put forth as part of this month’s “Session” topic, a monthly beer blogging get-together where we wax poetic about beer and beer culture. The truth is, a drinker and a brewer probably lie somewhere in between our beer-chugging frat bro and detail-obsessive foppish dandy … and why shouldn’t they? Just like all the hashed out issues of the craft vs crafty debate, there are different sides to this.
To me, a drinker is someone who bears close to the proper definition of the term as someone who consumes alcoholic beverages with little regard for the contents. But what’s wrong with that if they’re just seeking Flavor Country? To me, a brewer is someone much more consumed with the intricacies of the product. Maybe not more knowledgeable than a drinker, per se, but has a greater vested interest in what they’re enjoying.
Me? I’m lovingly in the middle. I want to give a beer its due by noting its complexities and effort put forth by the person who made it. After that, I want to sit back, relax and enjoy the damned thing. Doesn’t mean I’m turning off my taste buds and chugging it frat bro style. Just means there’s a time and place for everything.
Let’s see if we can better define these two after the jump.
A quick story: I got into homebrewing because I was going to local beer festivals and kept running into my insurance agent. After a few times running into each other, he asked me if I homebrewed. Since I didn’t, he invited me over for a brew day. Would I have become so interested in beer had that invitation never been issued? Maybe. Chances are I never would have gotten into homebrewing in the first place. I know for certain that the way I brew and appreciate beer has shifted exponentially since I made my first batch over a year ago.
However, it’s certainly the case that being a “brewer” isn’t necessary to appreciate beer, nor does being a “drinker” preclude you from obsessing over it. I will say that having used Carapils and black patent malt and Warrior hops in my homebrewing experiences has attuned my beer-drinking senses and made me appreciate the nuances of each ingredient more.
But I suppose there’s a downside to all this. It’s become harder – not impossible – to really enjoy a beer without over analyzing it at times. It’s something that may take a conscious decision. A switch to go from “brewer” to “drinker” and not think anything less of it. But that’s just me, after all.
So where does this leave us? Who is a “drinker” and who is a “brewer?” And like so many other things, does it really matter? It’s just beer, after all. It’s all an evolutionary process for each person. I certainly was a “drinker” once in my life, but as a (humble) brewer now, my knowledge has altered the way I look at things, as it does with any aspect of life. My passion for beer opened up when I really threw myself into it because it was important to me.
… and perhaps that’s the most important part. Enjoyment of something isn’t solely based around your education, but passion about something is greatly enhanced by stoking that fire with knowledge and appreciation.