“Today’s Beer Geek”: John Smith Strikes Back

The highest honor a blogger can receive occurs when something you’ve found on the internet turns around and finds you. Of coursel, there are probably actual awards out there that are more honorable, but I don’t see them coming my way any time soon so we’ll settle!

As you may or may not remember, I posted about 5 weeks ago about a series of viral videos that poked fun at- as the video itself calls them- “Today’s Beer Geek”. It’s a clever little series that seems to have one unifying message: “Quit getting so high-and-mighty about your beer, people.”

A few days ago, I was delighted to find that the creator of these videos, under his pseudonym “John Smith”, left a thorough explanation of each of the videos (including 2 new ones: http://vimeo.com/38795581) along with a bit on why he made the videos to begin with. (UPDATE: He copied and pasted an explanation he’d written in his Vimeo profile, but still, worth the read. John Smith, if you’re out there, message me. I’d love to do a phone interview. We can keep you anonymous)

I’ve included the post below because I doubt many of you read the comments; check it out. I agree with him 100%, but the only thing I’ll point out is that websites like BeerAdvocate and RateBeer are not evil in and of themselves (nor do I think John Smith is accusing them of being so). I personally have never rated a beer, and though I may be a bit guilty of seeking out those that are rated highest, I most often use BeerAdvocate to discover new styles and the beers that are representative of those styles. Just as often, however, I will go to the store with no direction, wait until something catches my eye, and hope it’s delicious. Even if it’s not the best thing I’ve ever tasted, I’ll make sure to enjoy the hell out of it because, after all, it is beer.

~Don Julian


So this is where I come in and tell you exactly why I made these “Today’s Beer Geek” videos. For one, because it’s funny. And two, to really give these “internet beer geek” types a reality check.

Do you remember the days before BeerAdvocate and RateBeer? Remember going beer shopping? You would buy something because it looked and/or sounded good. You explored. You had mostly no clue what was in the bottle until you tried it. You purchased everything your local bottleshop(s) had to offer because there were no biased beer-consumer rating websites and smartphones to access those websites at retail to influence your purchasing decisions (which, these ratings progressively become more biased due to the fact that newer ratings are influenced by previous high ratings, and these guys consume these beers under the pre-conceived notion that it MUST be good and that they should give it a good rating).

What ever happened to purchasing a beer SOLELY for enjoyment? These “beer geeks” can’t enjoy a single beer without a.) posting a picture of it to Facebook, b.) logging that beer in on Untappd, c.) rating that beer on BeerAdvocate, and d.) copying and pasting their BeerAdvocate rating onto Ratebeer. I’ll tell you what, nothing beats leisurely enjoying a good beer in your backyard on a beautiful day. What happened to that? I wouldn’t doubt if most of their beer drinking takes place at their desk all alone in front of their computer or something. I feel these “beer geek” types have completely lost themselves and have strayed too far from what enjoying a beer is all about. Who cares how many IBU it is, who cares how high the ABV is. How does it taste? Like it?

I am going to vaguely break down for you each video I made and why I made them:

This is just a general outline of the process this “new wave of beer geek” takes to get into craft beer. He is on a lazy quest to become a beer expert; he has no intention of learning how to brew at home, and he has no intention of genuinely educating himself on what beer actually is and/or what certain brewing practices and techniques contribute to beer. I like to equate it to following major league baseball, but without actually ever playing catch or even having the intent to throw a ball around. My advice to consumers looking to dive in to craft beer … “stay off the internet.” Taste is completely subjective and you will find, on your own, what you like, and also what you don’t like. I feel that the process taken to “get into beer” in this video can be damaging to an enthusiastic craft consumer the perception of the beer industry/community. Also, the Cicerone exam is stupid, pointless, a false accreditation, and nothing but a GENIUS business venture. If the Cicerone program was created solely to promote and grow beer education, it would be an NPO, and fees would be limited to only covering administrative costs. However, I am all about capitalism, and so I commend Ray Daniels.

Self-explanatory. We’ve all seen this happen at retail one too many times. It cracks us up, but at the same time I think I can safely say “that guy” irritates the hell out of us. Why discriminate and disregard all of the other fantastic liquids other brewers produce just because it’s not Pliny? Try something new instead if no Pliny is available.

If it’s not hoppy and boasting a high ABV, “beer geeks” don’t want it. Often times at these festivals, these guys will immediately dive into consuming IPAs. And here’s something that shows just how uneducated these guys are … they do not realize just how much of a palate killer IPAs really are, and that’s basic knowledge. After one or two, everything tastes the same (which is another reason why “IPA fests” can be pretty pointless to attend). I was at a brewfest recently in which Russian River was attending (it was actually a distributor pouring that day), and the first five guys in line to get in kept talking about “Pliny Pliny Pliny …”; and immediately when they opened the gates to the festival, they bolted, at full speed, to the Russian River booth to get a taste of Pliny. If there were any other beers there that could have potentially struck a chord with each of them individually, they would have missed out because they had began their day consuming palate-killing imperial IPA.

He actually doesn’t learn how to homebrew because he spends all of his money (which could go toward brewing equipment and ingredients) buying expensive “top list” beers and spends all of his time (which could be spent on a good ol’ fashioned brew day and BBQ with friends) blogging and rating them online. A high count of beer ratings on your BeerAdvocate and RateBeer profiles does not make you cool, it is meaningless. Sunglasses, however, make you cool.

Self-explanatory; it’s just beer.

The videos I made were created with no intention of malice or hate. They were simply created to poke fun and, to an extent, deliver a bit of a reality check to these guys straying from what beer is intended for. It is merely a consumer product intended to promote social activity, fun, and flat-out enjoyment. It is never to be taken too seriously. I became a little curious recently and ended up doing a little digging to find some consumer feedback on these videos in some favorite consumer beer-centric sites, and WOW … these people really dissected these videos and some even took great offense. Often times I wanted to chime in and say “alright guys come on now, they were just created for fun. Simple as that. If you can’t laugh at yourself, then you should probably try and lighten up a bit. It’s only beer.”

Each video I made took weeks of producing written scripts, storyboards, editing, etc. I put my blood, sweat, and tears into those videos, and I hope you enjoyed them. I use the name “John Smith” because knowledge of who created these videos could be damaging to my professional career.

Cheers, guys.

One Comment on "“Today’s Beer Geek”: John Smith Strikes Back"

  1. John Smith May 10, 2012 at 12:09 pm - Reply

    My apologies, Don Julian, but I must decline a phone interview. However, if you would like to provide me with a series of questions, I will be more than happy to provide you with honest answers. Cheers.

Leave A Response

Click here to cancel reply.