Author: Samuel Sly
A developing palette can be as awkward as being the last guy sprouting pubes in middle school. Like jerks pointing and laughing in the shower room, elitist drinkers make others feel inadequate about their knowledge simply by talking down to people and making beer seem like an exclusive club. Those that hold their palates in such high regard can go suck a goat’s dick and tell me all the subtle nuances of what their palate encountered.
Honestly, I respect the shit out of people that have sharp palates and can identify crazy shit in beer. I love picking their flavor-forward brains to see what I can learn. Those who can pick out dark fruit notes, the spice of rye, a hint of oak, a subtle ester from yeast and all the possible off flavors have an immense talent, and the opportunity to teach others. I know there aren’t a ton of the elitists I’ve bashed, but I see people pulling this shit from time to time and it pisses me off. Do they love proclaiming themselves as experts more than they love beer? Probably not, but it can appear that way. If more people start taking on this attitude, it could become a problem.
I’ve heard enough arguments about a big ass bubble blowing up in the beer industry to actually blow up a big ass bubble the size of, say, Axl Rose’s ego. Many think the industry can’t sustain the growth it’s experienced in the past couple of years. If that’s the case, beer snob assholes need to shut the fuck up or start talking to people in a more encouraging way. It’s not hard. Many of us want to create more fans of craft beer to make sure this bubble doesn’t go all “Chinese Democracy” on us. I don’t want to see the industry have that kind of setback, and I don’t want to hear all the I told you sos.
Maybe it’s inherent in human nature. A few people in every facet of life seem to want the glory and attention that comes with being an expert on a subject. Everyone that has the talent needs to Peter Parker this shit up. “With great power, comes great responsibility.” Replace power with palate and we have a headline that I actually should have used.
So what can we do? How do you deal with an asshole? Let’s look at how you deal with your own asshole for a moment. Do you scold your asshole? Tell it it’s an asshole? Ignore your asshole? When I do, it just keeps doing what it knows best: being an asshole. Here’s an idea: REMIND THOSE IDIOTS THAT PALATES ARE SUBJECTIVE AND DIFFERENT PEOPLE ENJOY DIFFERENT THINGS SO THEIR OPINIONS ARE ABOUT AS USEFUL AS A TAMPON AT A JUSTIN BIEBER CONCERT AND WE WILL STOP LISTENING TO THEM.
Ok, we don’t need to be jerks to these know-it-alls (unless the situation really warrants it). They may rain on our parade. They may spoil our milk. They may eat our ice cream. I don’t think those last two are real idioms… However, if we encounter palate bullying, point it out and provide some constructive criticism. They may scoff, get defensive or melt like the Wicked Witch of the West, but they have to know they aren’t necessarily helping craft beer. People making a change can easily be spooked. Whether they’re wine, spirit or fizzy yellow water drinkers, they’re exposing a vulnerable side of themselves. No one appreciates someone acting superior and pointing out their lack of knowledge.
Yes, having a sharp palate is fucking awesome. If you’re lucky enough to have one, use it to help make beer fans. Talk to people passionately about beer and get their engines fired up to try more, but guide them. They are the student, you can be the sensei. It’s time, more than ever, to prove beer people are good people.
An open mind and a few beers can make anywhere an adventure.