This is, by an absolute country mile, the worst beer I've tried in a long time. pic.twitter.com/MhcIFdEDCh
— Neil Walker (@EisntCNeil) May 5, 2017
I am not a beer geek. I spend most of my day and what little free time I can writing about it, but as I work in the industry then I’m being paid for it – so how does my enjoyment of drinking beer manifest itself into what other people would call ‘geekery’? Sure, I go to beer festivals but even the most stereotypical CAMRA event or laser-sharp craft beer gathering is far removed from sci-fi conventions on the geekometer – and I say that as someone who used to force my long-suffering father to drive from Preston to Derby each year to attend Games Workshop Games Days and spend hours looking at painted lead figures of orcs and soforth.*
*To be fair, I stopped when I turned 40.
Even with that admission, you won’t find me camping out in a brewery courtyard for a dawn release of the latest New England IPA or punching the air because I scored tickets for SourzFest17 in the twenty seconds it took for them to sell out online. Neither do I have each Champion Beer of Britain Winner etched into my frontal cortex or a desire to sit in silent contemplation in every micropub in the country. And yet, there is one particular habit that I just can’t shake that probably – to ‘normals’ – qualifies me as a beer geek. And it is this – the continual nagging that I can’t let statements like the one in the tweet above lie unanswered. Whether it makes me a connoisseur, aficionado, critic, bon vivant or desperate loser I just can’t stop punishing my tastebuds through my curiosity.
And that’s the rub. Only somebody who has an obsessive level of fascination with a particular pastime or subject would put themselves through discomfort for their hobby (see: those men shivering at the end of Crewe station platforms). Curiosity may have killed the cat, but it fulfills the beer geek. For every thrill-seeker who scores that web-encrusted bottle of Oude Canarde ’81 there is another who empties the shelves of the worst lagers known to humanity just to try them. This kind of Malloryism of the beer world is where the line is drawn, and all too frequently I find myself on the wrong side of it. Sure, I justify it by saying that I don’t spend a small fortune flying to the regional airports of Europe for my dedicated pastime – merely Musselburgh Tescos – but it’s the same wedge even if I’m at the thin end.
For the record the beer in question – Flying Dog’s Numero Uno Agave Cerveza (‘the artisanal answer to the easy-drinking, light-bodied beers typically produced south of the border.’) is not really that nice at all. The thin, insipid body gives way to an odd grainy medicinal sweetness – which must be the agave, I guess – before a small amount of lime flavour arrives. There’s more than a touch of the Corona’s about it, but I guess that was the intention, so for that reason alone Flying Dog have hit the nail on the head and achieved exactly what they wanted. The fact that I (and Neil above, and others who replied to that tweet) didn’t like it is down to us I guess. But what we also need to take responsibility for is when people like me see that comment and think…”You know, I need a piece of that action.”
So if you have to scratch that itch to justify your pastime? I guess you are, after all, a geek. However much you try to convince yourself otherwise…