Straddling the Line Between Novice and Expert

Glass with Short on Beer etched

Yeah that’s a glass with this blog’s name on it.

I am not a beer expert. I am not a beer novice. What am I? Hopefully I figure it out in the next 700 words (SPOILER ALERT: I don’t). I don’t even know what craft beer is. I’m straddling some imaginary line that separates these two informal and irrelevant classifications in the ever-growing world of craft beer. Besides being a Cicerone or working for a brewery, what certifications (on paper or socially) can one have that sets them apart from the average craft beer drinker? Secondly, does it really matter?

What does one do if they don’t have the time to devote to becoming a Cicerone or financial stability to switch careers to the brewery life? Start a blog of course. Does that automatically make someone a beer expert? No. A beer novice? Nope, not that either. Therefore there are no rules when it comes to blogging. We can post whenever about whatever. And the main reason to blog, at least for me, is to provide quality content that I want to write about that my readers might want to read. I leave it up to the reader to decide whether or not my opinion on beer matters. And if they do think that, aren’t I a beer expert then? Do I even want to be a beer expert?

A few months ago I asked some question on Twitter about the best brewery logos. Among the feedback I got a satirical response about a brewery in Kentucky I’ve never heard of that was/is involved in a trademark infringement lawsuit (exhibit A: it could be copyright infringement but does it really matter? Since I’m not a beer expert after all I don’t need to be 100% accurate). I responded with someone like, “oh that’s a cool one.” A third person chimed in saying that I had no right to call myself a beer blogger [because I didn’t get the joke]. I was pissed off for a bit. But I bit my tongue instead of getting into a Twitter war and did made the best passive-aggressive move: block the jerk and move on. I guess deep down I might still be ticked and this part of this rant is my way of getting it off my chest. I offer my sincerely apologies that I wasn’t caught up on the recent brewery turf war news. I have a life outside of beer. Am I a beer expert then? I guess not. Does this mean I should stop blogging? Of course not. I blog about what I want write about that hopefully my readers will enjoy. Now if I was writing on recent brewery logo law news that would be an omission. Maybe ding my beer blogger scorecard then.

There was a recent Twitter spat between two well-known beer bloggers that I respect and read. I am not taking sides or commenting on the situation. However it just goes to show that a few simple words online can be implied the wrong way. Even if there was no malice intended, they can make a difference. This is a reason why I do not call myself a beer expert. There is undue pressure put on them to express thoughts at 100% accuracy. Why would I want that? Blogging is fun. Scrutiny isn’t.

Playing devil’s advocate on this one, isn’t the goal of all beer bloggers is to make money just talking about and drinking beer? And don’t you have to be a beer expert to do that? I’m still trying to answer that myself but at this point I think the answer is no.

In my best Tim Ferriss impression, what is an expert? Besides the few available certifications, isn’t all you need a few public speaking appearances, good knowledge of the subject matter, an online presence, and have your own opinions? Well it looks like I’m almost there. Back to being a beer expert.

What this rant is trying to get at is that I’m stuck somewhere in the middle. And I’m okay with that. I’ll just keep writing about my beer-y adventures and maybe provide some useful knowledge along the way. That’ll keep me happy. That’ll keep this blog going. Don’t force me into being someone I don’t want to be. I don’t care about the semantics involved with Lambics. Like Josh Dion says, “Never take beer or life too seriously.”

I have some new, fun, creative features in the works for this blog (can you say Fantasy Beer League?!). Beer expert or not. If you stuck with this rant to here, thank you. I probably wouldn’t have.

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7 thoughts on “Straddling the Line Between Novice and Expert

  1. I don’t think it matters where in the spectrum you are, so long as you are learning and trying to better yourself. I’ve learned so much since I started my blog, but know I still have a lot (and I mean a lot) to learn. The people who like to stratify the culture and give people ranks are missing out on the point: we’re all part of the same community, and all have something to add. Instead of knocking a new guy, why not answer his questions and help guide him like a good tutor? I don’t see what anyone gains for negativity and elitism…especially in the beer world.

    I think part of it is trying to figure out what you want your blog to do. Some people are in it for money, but honestly, there are better (and much easier) ways to earn a buck. My blog is a creative outlet for me where I get to talk about what I love without some editor telling me what is good and bad. Given my penchant for oddity, that is worth more money than I could ever charge.

  2. I think the concept of a “beer expert” is something that simply doesn’t exist. The beauty of good beer is that we all taste and sense things differently. I can’t really stand the taste of hops. Especially these big double IPA’s breweries come out with now. I’m known as being staunch opposition to these very hop-forward brews. Still, just because it doesn’t taste good to me doesn’t mean it’s bad to others. If you like something I don’t, good for you. I can respect that.

    Deep down I slightly regret calling myself a “Beer Snob” as it is such a term of disdain in the beer community. I don’t really come off as snobby as e might define the actual beer snobs. That’s just what a friend and I were referred to at work because of our tendency to get adventurous with our beer. Compared to them we were, in a way, beer snobs.

  3. I’m not sure if this came across the right way in the post but in no way do I consider myself a beer expert. I was simply making the case that an expert is in the eye of the beholder (sorry for the cliché). A question I didn’t asked but tried to imply was what are we if we are not beer experts?

  4. Pingback: Why I Do (and Don’t) Want More People to Like Craft Beer | Short On Beer

  5. Pingback: A Little Craft Beer Depression | Short On Beer

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