Tasha is one of my best friends. Tasha is a beer geek – she’s serious enough about the stuff that she’s working towards getting her Cicerone certification, which I think is amazing. On her MetaCookBook blog this week, she’s asked for people’s thoughts on the beer community and what sorts of topics they should be talking about. Tough topics – like diversity in the community. I’m very interested to read the replies, but I wasn’t going to join in the conversation, because beer isn’t my world. I can only understand Tasha’s passion by comparing it to my loves of other things, because I don’t really “get” beer. I like the stuff (some of it) well enough. But I’m intimidated by beer geeks sometimes, because I don’t feel like I belong to their “community.” So maybe I do have something to say after all.
I’m not saying that beer lovers are hipsters and phonies and are running this exclusionary club on purpose. Maybe it’s my own perception of “beer people” that makes me hesitant to really get into beer.
I feel like there’s this big movement around beer, and some people take it super seriously. There are beer bloggers and beer conventions and people have opinions. I don’t want to commit to all that. I just want to sometimes drink something that doesn’t suck. With friends who also don’t suck. I don’t read beer blogs or keep up on beer news and I don’t know a lager from an ale. I just know a few kinds I like and I usually order those. So far nobody I’ve ever gone out for a drink with has ever rolled their eyes at me or made me feel bad for liking the “wrong” beer, but I’d be lying if I said I don’t feel a small twinge of anxiety every time I order. Beer is intimidating.
That’s a totally weird thing for me to say, because I love wine and wine tastings, (hell, I made wine charms this one time) and I get all nerdy over the tasting notes (which are all lies, people – NOBODY tastes plum and leather in Merlot. NOBODY). I learned about wine by going to tastings and having pros guide me through the general characteristics of different styles, and there’s no reason not to do that with beers. Except that I don’t know where to go. And I have this vague impression that the beer tasting rooms will be populated with dudes and I’ll feel out of place and/or not be taken seriously because I’m a woman. There are Groupon “wine and canvas nights” marketed to moms like me, and memes about mommy needing a glass of wine after a hard week, but I feel like beer is for daddy. It’s such a pervasive concept that we’re even slapping it on baby onesies. Why?
Again, I’m not saying that anyone is making me feel this way. It’s just these hazy impressions I have of “the beer community.” And since Tasha wanted to know what the beer community should be talking about, here’s my thought: why do I feel like the world of beer probably isn’t for me? Is it all my own self-doubt and social anxiety, or is there some subtle signal I’m getting from the beercommunity that this isn’t my place?