Hey guys. Dennis here. Every once in a while I want to talk about a few things that I find are problems in the craft beer scene and how I feel we, as a community, can change them. This week I’d like to ramble about toxic fandom, or as many like to call them: Beer Snobs.
I LIKE STUFF
Being a fan of something- whether it be a sports team, a TV show, comic book, or craft beer- is awesome. Being involved with a group of people who enjoy the same thing as you is… more than fun, it’s absolutely enthralling. When you get to geek out over the newest episode of Watchman with your fellow nerds, you get a high. When you piece together a mystery of a video game’s plot in co-op campaign it’s reason enough to cheer. When you share your experience with another patron of craft beer, picking apart flavors and going goo goo over a gose, well it’s just plain old cathartic.
But as my fellow fans of Rick and Morty know sometimes that fandom can be caustic. Toxic, even. Here’s a brief synopses of how Rick and Morty inadvertently gave internet trolls someone to look up to. A hero that seemed, to the trolls at least, to justify their antisocial, holier-than-thou behavior:
WUBALUBA DUB DUB
I’m not going to go too deep into who Rick is other than he’s a narcissistic alcoholic genius who struggles to fit in and ultimately has no desire to be a part of anyone’s scene. He finds himself better than others because of his intelligence and flaunts his superiority with his nihilism, atheism, and alcoholism. Throw in a dash of disregard for literally all life and you get one of the main characters of a hit show.
I freaking love this show.
Another fun fact about Rick and Morty is the ability of the creators and writers to intertwine the plot of each episode with overarching themes of philosophy and symbolism. It’s one of a few shows I know of that can mix the idea of staring into the void and it staring back at you with a fart joke. This kind of splicing of mentalities gives the show an edge over your run-of-the-mill Adult Swim programming.
THE BOUQUET OF THIS EPISODE IS EXQUISITELY PHALLIC
You can pick apart each episode like you would a handcrafted, small batch beer and pull different notes of philosophy, hints of allegory, and a smack of don’t-give-a-f***ism. It’s a fun mental exercise and great experience with friends while still having a rollicking laugh over aliens with pee-pees for heads.
Of course, as with any creation, the moment you put it out in public it no longer belongs to the creators, but instead becomes property of the fans. Rick’s… uh… issues… are generally regarded as repulsive in most civilized societies (sociopathy, one could say), and when the show launched Rick became a hero to many people who felt “too smart for society”, allowing them to express their long hidden opinions that would’ve remained suppressed- toxic qualities such as sexism, intellectual elitism, and so on.
You need look no further than sites like Reddit to see this toxic behavior spill over everything like a kid carrying a slippery glass of Kool-aid filled to the brim on a white carpet that costs more that my education. This isn’t saying that the show encouraged people to act out on deplorable traits, but people saw this as an opportunity to say, “Hey, that guys sounds like how I feel. This means what I feel is okay.”
No, it’s not okay. If you think it’s okay, you’ve entirely missed the point of the show. You suck as a fan.
MICROSOFT INCEL IS NOT A PROGRAM
People like that, people who say things like, “There’s no way you can understand this show, it’s above your level of intelligence. Only geniuses like myself can possibly understand this humor,” like the pretentious neckbeards they are really ruins artistic endeavors that are so fantastic and creative like Rick and Morty. It drives away much of the fanbase that finds the show just as fun and interesting as the most die-hard, schwifty, plumbus-owning Joe out there.
What do toxic Rick and Morty fans have in common with craft beer nuts?
You smell what I’m stepping in?
BEER WAS BORING, NOW IT’S BOOMING
The craft beer movement really took off in the 1990s at the height of the monopoly of ownership by the big three (Miller, Coors, and Budweiser). There had always been other companies, but interest was lower in those days and the way to get the word out wasn’t as easy as it is today with social media being what it is. Craft beer was more than just a good business plan at that time. It was motherf***ing rebellion! It was a giant hoppy finger lifted in the air against The Man screaming, “I want better beer!”
And better beer we got.
Slowly but surely we started getting all sorts of craft breweries pop up all over the nation. Magazines (‘zines, if you’re old enough to remember what they were called) were circulated, spreading the good word of where to get your next pint at. It was a true community of fans. People getting involved for the love of beer.
And… it worked!
As with any community, though, you tend to get… well, those people.
SH** SNOBS SAY
“If I went to a party and all they had was Bud Light, I’d drink water.”
“Yes, Oberon is good and all, but last year’s batch was better.”
“I think this IPA is good, but I feel like it misses the mark on-“
“Oh, you’re drinking Miller? What are you, nursing? Drink a real beer.”
OH MY GOD SHUT UP.
You know, it’s great that they are fans. It’s wonderful that they love and respect beer, understanding the ins and outs of off-flavors, the brewing process, and the flavor profiles of established styles of beer. Cool. Awesome, in fact. It’s great to share that knowledge with others!
But… to be so condescending… to speak with the affect that your shit doesn’t stink, to buy your own crap like that… that’s just smelling your own farts.
And liking it.
BEING A SNOB MIGHT NOT BE ON PURPOSE
People may enjoy the atmosphere that they’re putting out there, to poo poo on people’s choices of beverages, but that doesn’t mean people want to be surrounded by that cloud. That’s toxic. And I feel we don’t talk about this enough… that elitism is silent, but deadly.
I hope you’re all appreciating my fart puns.
People took the mentality of fighting back against the man to provide a better product, to supply the demand, and it curdled into this superiority complex of, “I won’t be caught dead with piss in my mouth. Take your [insert macro-brewed lager] out of this house!”
Now that craft beer has achieved a sort of ubiquity and can be found in just about every community around I find that some beer critics give the rest of us a bad name. The loudest amongst us tend to be the most volatile.
COOL STORY, BRO
People that define themselves by their favorite vice and find it within themselves to extoll their “wisdom”, wanted or not, to the masses about how superior their palate is compared to the proletariat are terrible ambassadors of the craft beer movement. Yes, they may be smart. Yes, they may understand and study the craft better than most. Yes, they may be great resources of information. At the same time, that snobbery, that condescension, that hot air drives away the curious and the interested.
FANATICISM DISGUISED AS FANDOM
People can be so passionate about a hobby that their enthusiasm comes off as fanaticism, which when condescending and pejorative will drive away others from wanting to join in on the fun.
Yes, it’s cool that you like this thing.
No, it’s not cool that you look down on others for not liking this thing.
This can be found in any fandom or profession. Hell, I know teachers that love the smell of their own farts, touting how educational methods of others are too low brow for their classrooms, or demonizing one teacher’s methods to their face despite knowing and understanding the fact that every classroom is different with varying dynamics and student populations.
I’ve met people at the gym who love to grace everyone within their vicinity with bro science and how the techniques of famous YouTube fitness star AbBlaster42069 got them ripped, yet fail to introduce and include beginners to how to actually make their way on the road to fitness.
But that teacher has awards. That teacher probably has a Ted Talk! That jacked guy was literally doing laundry on his abs. That means he or she knows what they’re talking about right? But does that person understand that being intellectual and knowledgeable should be more than just knowing stuff. Someone full of information, but no compassion or empathy for the initiate or the untaught, is truly hamstringing the movement they so loudly announce their pride for.
How are you applying this love to make the world a better place? How, as a fan, are you working to include others in your passion? How are beer enthusiasts helping to make craft beer a more inclusive and fun community of adventurous drinkers?
Not everyone wants to smell your farts
Be nice. Be the example of the community you represent. Be that person that you wish you knew when you were just getting into the scene. Show people the way, be patient when they ask what may seem to be silly questions. Introducing people to craft beer is my favorite part of the scene. Education and exploration is part of the journey, and belittling others for “not getting it” is not only infantile and childish, but just bad manners.
I dunno. Have a beer and chill out. Don’t be so judgey.
Dennis (me!) is (am!) the founder and primary author of The Pint Sized Review. Got a brew you want to share with me? I take submissions and donations to the cause! Email me at email@example.com or shoot me a message on any of my social media accounts. I’m sure I can find a reason to talk about your choice of brew. You can follow me on Twitter @drinkpintsized, Instagram @thepintsizedreview, or the way your parents get their news: on Facebook. Just search “The Pint Sized Review” and you’ll find me. Donate on our Patreon, and if you can’t donate please like, share our posts, and join the mailing list so you always know when we are putting out some stupid stuff for a laugh and maybe, just maybe, some education.