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Are you a Beer Guru?

2011-11-15_17-48-57_484Probably. But, who knows? I have been a fan of craft beer since the mid 90’s when I was first introduced to a style of beer called “India Pale Ale”. You’ve probably heard of it ;-). Anyway, soon after that I started homebrewing. I bought my first extract kit and the rest is history. So, I’ve been around craft beer for a while. Does that make me a guru? Nope. It makes me a person who loves craft beer. That’s about it. So, what does it take to be a craft beer guru? Do you need to be a brewer? Do you need a subscription to “Draft” magazine? Do you need to have medals on your wall from the competitions you’ve won? Maybe. Those things don’t count against you anyway. It shows you have a passion for beer and that ain’t bad.

I’ve been around beer for years. I like it a lot, probably too much, but, that’s a story for a different time. I fancied myself as a guru early on but quickly realized I was fooling myself. My friends would ask me all the basic questions about ales and lagers, and hops, and yeast, etc., etc., etc. And I was quick to answer. I know a little bit more than most folks did about beer. And yes, that comes with the territory when you are a homebrewer. At least it should or you won’t be a very good homebrewer. As time went on, I realized these tiny little nuggets of knowledge merely scratched the surface on what it took to brew good beer and to really know about beer in general.
So, I dug deeper. I immersed myself in the beer culture and tried to absorb every little piece of information that was available. I could not wait for the next brew club meeting. I set reminders on my phone for the Brewing Network broadcasts. I went to every festival and competed in as many competitions as I could. I poured over every blog and forum I could find and looked for every little trick and hack to make me a better beer person. There wasn’t a brewing magazine I did not read from cover to cover. I loved it. I loved everything about it. There was a seemingly endless source of knowledge streaming its way into my world at every turn. Hell, I even built my own automated brew rig just to see if I could.

And then it happened….

I had an epiphany. I realized that I was not going to be that craft beer guru that I was trying to be. What?? How could this be? I thought. How could I put so much time into something I love knowing I could never be the “expert”? Surely, I could learn what I need to know to be that “go to” guy, right?

Nope…

But that’s okay. As a homebrewer, you are going to know a bit more about beer than the average barfly (unless you frequent Mekong or The Answer Brew Pub). You can be that guy at the table that can explain what a saison is to your friends. You know why beer tastes like it does and can probably accurately describe the flavor profile. But in the end we’re all just scratching the surface. Craft beer, much like the culinary art, is constantly changing. There are endless possibilities and more being introduced every day. To keep up with them all is an impossible proposition. We all have our favorites, of course. But, who among us has not welcomed the opportunity to participate in a friendly beer tasting with someone you hardly knew with beer you probably never heard of with the hopes of finding the perfect beer?? …. I cherish those opportunities and I’m not disappointed when I find I’m not the beer guru in the bunch. Soak it all up and use the knowledge you gain to make better beer. You owe it to society :-).

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