Everything Sucks: Beer, Fear and How Donnie Darko Taught Me to Love

Half empty or half full?
Half empty or half full?

This post is dedicated to Simon Cowell, Gordon Ramsay and any other person who hates everything.

I made a trip to the DC area over the weekend for a beer-related event. While standing in line for a brew I chatted with a local distribution rep about North Carolina beer.

“Anything that you’ve really liked?” I asked. “I feel like NC beer is constantly growing in popularity.”

“No way,” he replied. “NC breweries suck.”

So that was that.

The rep went on to tell me that he hadn’t had any “great” beers from North Carolina breweries, but that some of what he’d had was “good.”

Which apparently equates to “suck.”

Somewhere on the scale of Natty Light to Pliny/Dark Lord/Hunahpu did we all get lost? Are members of our beer community spoiled by certain tastes that they’re now jaded in their appreciation for beer?

I admit, there is one brewery in North Carolina that makes beers I simply don’t like. They’re also immensely popular. Just because I don’t like their beer doesn’t mean they suck.

But then again every beer drinker is supposed to have an opinion, right? It’s easy to see online, with this being among the approximately 234,092,840,232 beer blogs scattered across the Internet. But what’s with the hate from DC Beer Rep just because he didn’t love beer from a collection of breweries?

I turn to Donnie Darko, when good ol’ Kitty Farmer taught us that hear and love are the two core human emotions and everything goes to one end or the other:



So what is it? If we love beer as a whole, what are we afraid of? Is fear holding us prisoner?

Yes, there are more breweries out there than ever before. Yes, that means there is a lot of good (and sometimes bad) beer. No, that doesn’t mean everything sucks.

In fact, between the good/bad or love/hate ends of the beer spectrum, there is a lot of damned fine beer that may not blow drinkers away, but it’s tasty and makes people happy.

… and that’s the point.
+Bryan Roth
“Don’t drink to get drunk. Drink to enjoy life.” — Jack Kerouac

24 thoughts on “Everything Sucks: Beer, Fear and How Donnie Darko Taught Me to Love

  1. This post kind of reminds me of the statement Sam C of Dogfish made on Beer Advocate a year or two ago. He mentioned that not everyone is supposed to like every beer. If we all liked one and only one type of beer we wouldn’t need very many breweries. We all have different tastes and he felt that to say something just outright sucked was wrong and a bad way to look at things. I agree. I tend to ignore people like the DC rep you ran into. Sure, they might know a thing or two about beer but speaking in extremes like that is a waste of time and their opinion is devalued. It’s like the friend everyone has that only sees movies that are “amazing” or “terrible”.

    1. Solid mention. Sometimes I’ll scroll posted reviews on Beer Advocate or RateBeer and think … has this kind of ruined the idea of having a beer?

      Sometimes, I think so. If I’m taking notes for a review, I try to get it done in the first few minutes of having a beer so I don’t have to think about it any more. Otherwise, what’s the point? (To simply enjoy the beer, of course)

  2. I think this love/hate mentality is the curse of modern life. Average is overlooked and we all focus on the 1 Star or the 5 Star review. I guess it’s like the dreaded “Nice Guy” moniker when I was growing up. Those were the last words you wanted to hear come out of a girl’s mouth: “But he’s such a nice guy…”. Personally, I’ve always tried to be a “fly under the radar” kinda guy. In real life at least. 🙂

    1. “If you’re not first, you’re last.”
      – Ricky Bobby

      1. And don’t forget, 2nd place is the 1st loser.

    1. Thanks to you for stopping by!

  3. Nice insight here, Bryan.

    I won’t write about mediocre beer, unless it provokes an idea I’d like to share. But I’ll sure as hell drink one, especially if there’s nothing better on hand.

    The jaded genius you were unlucky enough to chat with sounds like the kind of guy who would bitch about how ugly a particular Victoria’s Secret model is.

    1. Thanks for the kind words! I guess this guy’s mother never told him about the “If you’ve got nothing nice to say…” line. Oh well. I suppose he just can’t see the forest for the trees. More beer for me.

  4. Didn’t realize there was a North Carolina terroir! (you know, considering how most of the ingredients are shipped in from elsewhere)

    1. My favorite local brewery, Fullsteam, goes above and beyond to try and use local ingredients, which I think is pretty cool: http://www.fullsteam.ag/beer/our-local-ingredients/

      But you’re right – most others aren’t as lucky/committed for a wide variety of reasons.

      1. That’s great, I love seeing locally farmed and malted barley (as well as everything else.) If other brewers did utilize these ingredients, a terroir could actually develop for NC (and other areas), which, for me at least, is exciting to think about. Just need to get Asheville to start growing some hops!

      2. That would be epic.

        I am happy to see a growth of hop farming in the Northeast, which I only hope means more regional buying/brewing.

        My home area in the Finger Lakes is slowly growing in both that and breweries, so it seems like a perfect marriage as both grow. It’s been a great climate for wine grapes, but Cascade seems to be a popular choice lately.

      1. I concur!

  5. So, I am not saying that I am the foremost expert on good and bad beer but I am saying that I am from South of Seattle, (north of Portland), and I lived in LA for a couple of years and visited San Diego a few times and I feel that some of the beer I have had in North Carolina has outshined that of what I have had before. I am sure some find that hard to believe but it is my truth.

    I am not saying it was better than all that I have had but a handful of the breweries out here can hold their own. That is a fact. Everything is ever growing so maybe people will see soon….

    I will even admit that recent openings I have attended the beers were not good at all but you have to take it all in all and decide for yourself.

    1. This man speaketh the truth.

      Do not judge a book by its cover.

      Do not base a beer on its reviewer.

      NC beer shall rise again!

  6. Some might say that guy was being a douchebag. Jaded a-holes who poo-poo good, obtainable beer (presumably to make themselves feel superior) are some of the worst kind of beer douchebags. They are a festering ingrown hair on the butt of the beer community.

    1. Sure, but do you know how many Twitter followers they have!?!1?

  7. You are absolutely right about some beers I don’t like but that doesn’t mean they suck . ( Some do suck , though ) . Thanks for standing up for beer ! This guy really got to you , I guess . Good post .

    1. Thanks, Dan. I tried talking to him about his feelings toward NC beer in general (apparently it’s all been ruined) but we couldn’t really find a middle ground. No use crying over spilled beer. I think.

      1. Right. You said your piece in your post —- good therapy no doubt . On to the next beer ! Some people will never get it . Can’t let them rent room in your brain .

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