As someone that has made the transition from “Normal” to “Beer Geek” the question I am asked most is “How does one become a beer geek, cookie?” In fact that’s a lie, no one ever asks it. The question I am asked most is “If there is this underground civilization at the center of the Earth you insist is real and that’s where the UFO’s come from, how come they are not members of FIFA then?” But that’s not relevant, and a harder question to answer and one I’ve not got an immediate explanation for, because let’s face it they are bound to play football. Every country does. That’s why football has a proper world cup and other sports don’t. You can only have a world cup if the world plays. Baseball world series? Rugby or Cricket world cups? What? Nah, sorry pal, it may be an enjoyable tournament and a suitable sort of football for posh fat lads that can’t run but it ain’t a world cup. Maybe it’s because the underground people are Nazis or something but who really knows? Beer geekery is a question I can have a stab at so I shall and that is the crux of how to become a beer geek.
Because rule Number 1 is:
Beer is the single most important thing in the world ever.
That’s in a big font because it’s a big rule, what with being rule number 1. Rule number one tends to be the biggest rule in most things that have rules. You’ve heard of the axiom “Life is suffering” right? Well that’s the first noble truth of Buddhism. It’s actually “All existence is dukkha”, but no one knows what dukkha is, even the guy that made the word up, so it got translated as ‘suffering’, ‘anguish’, ‘pain’, or ‘unsatisfactoriness’. Them truths are not really rules but kind of sort of rules if you, like me, like to stretch things a bit and think a rule is kind of a law and a law represents some sort of truth. There are by all accounts 4 noble truths. You know what the 4th one is? Nope? Don’t sweat it, neither do I. In fact no one does. Not even Buddhists and they are down with that sort of stuff. You don’t need to know the whole gubbins, just enough to sound clever. So the 1st rule by and large is the only one worth doing.
So how’s this different to how Normals see things? Well, when I was “normal” I used to think the rule was
Beer is like a product you drink and it gets you a bit pissed and makes you go to the toilet.
To make the transition from that to the 1st noble truth of beer geekery is all about understanding that beer is so much more than just a product and is the single most important thing in the world ever.
What else might you initially think are important? Your girlfriend/wife/kids? Your relationships? Your family? Your job? Your friends? Whether your trainers match your jacket? Whether your toilet is clean enough for visitors to pop round? Deleting your browser history before your girlfriend gets back from work and flushing the pile of Kleenex next to the teapot in your home office/ spare room?
Well, you have to accept however important that is, it’s less important than beer. You need to lower the relevance of this and elevate beer.
The type of thing you might look at on the internet when the girlfriend is at work.
Beer is something that should consume every waking moment of your existence and occupy your dreams. What beer are you drinking? What beer is next? Where are you drinking it? What are others drinking? What is the history of beer mats in the 1930s? What is an authentic porter beer? Should you say hello to a pretty lass in a pub if you’re single or enough of a cad to pretend to be and she makes eye contact and smiles and might be up for a bit of how’s your father or should you respect her feminist right to concentrate totally on the beer she is necking and not be bothered brushing you off if she’s not up for it? Do proper pubs have karaoke nights? Is this beer acceptable to the wider community of beer geekery or macro pisswater? What size is the brewery and is the brewer a celebrity like a footballer and its news if they sign for a new team? What weird ingredient makes this beer taste of your dads’ socks? Is pink beer a way to get ladies off the white wine and necking beer? What price is too much for a pint? Is a weak unfunny sexist beer advert just lame banter for insecure men that feel modern society emasculates them and think maybe everyone else has a bigger knob than them (they do, sorry) or is it a vile crime on a par with murder against ladies that like to drink beer and want to be respected for being people that like beer and not sex objects to leer at? What time does the pub open? Should a pub ploughman’s lunch have a pork pie in it? Should cask beer be served with a sparkler? Should people be allowed to drink craft beer if they don’t know who John Kimmich is? When should you stop tweeting about your hangover after a crazy night on the pop and start tweeting photos of your overpriced grog on twitter? Why should everyone in the world care about beer? Is every dish you knock up in your kitchen improved by the addition of beer?
These my friends are the questions. There are more, but let that be your discovery. The answer to these should be your goal. Not mundane stuff like fixing the wobbly curtain rail your girlfriend has been banging on about since Christmas.
Once you re engineer your life to the first noble truth of beer geekery you begin to walk the path towards beer geekery and eventually you, like me, can be a beer geek and talk to other beer geeks in pubs and on twitter and what not.
Now in truth all beer geeks are somewhere on the path, few have obtained total beer nirvana. Even many of the most proficient beer geeks appear to sometimes consider other things, but that’s only because they are still on the path, still on the journey and not yet quite there.
At the beginning of the journey beer may be only one of a number of important things like cultivating an appearance.
Take your modern day craft beer hipster. Obviously getting pissed up on obscure peculiarly tasting grog is pretty important but clearly they also care about their appearance. Not to worry, they are on the journey. Currently they think that spending £200 on a pair of ill-fitting trousers to go with a daft hat is a thing they want to do. Soon they will walk through the local Aldi, beer gut bursting out of them trousers and wearing an unwashed CAMRA festival T shirt and see a pair of cords reduced from £10 to £8 and figure, why not? One day skinny jeans and appearance will not matter, only beer. Then the journey will be nearing completion and beer enlightenment only a fleeting whisper away.
Mudge (left) and Me (right) have progressed on the journey and now beer matters more than appearance and we have not even noticed the beer feminist in the center and not bothered her.
But the journey begins with accepting the first noble truth. Rule 1.
Beer is the single most important thing in the world ever.