Most of us have come across a few self-proclaimed “wine snobs” at some point, and I recently became curious about the equivalent beer-drinking persona. Imagine my surprise to learn that one of the most popular terms for beer enthusiasts is “beer nerd!” The label doesn’t bother me personally, as I survived my adolescence as a “band geek” and have always been the “dorky older sister” to my hip younger siblings. Personal acceptance aside, I wondered: Are there informed beer drinkers out there who are offended by the potentially negative “beer nerd” description?
There is no simple answer, I discovered as I perused a popular Beer Advocate forum discussion on the topic (check out the Beer Nerds: Negative or Positive? thread here). At first it may seem counter-intuitive, but it’s widely agreed that “beer snob” is a negative term while “beer nerd” is positive. There are also those who prefer “beer guru,” “beer aficionado,” “beer geek,” and even “beer Jedi.” One Beer Advocate member explains the phenomenon quite well in saying that beer nerds are those who “talk about beer, not about how cool beer makes them.” This grounded sensibility, the unpretentiousness, is key.
Not quite sure how you fit into the beer nerdiness spectrum? Luckily, there’s a handy online quiz: So you think you know Beer?: Quiz for Beer Nerds. (I’m warning you, it’s really challenging!)
While hipsters across the globe may clutch their cans of Pabst Blue Ribbon for dear life, I’m happy to report that beer nerds can be found enjoying tasty craft brews, discussing a beer’s merits, and most certainly not trying to impress their fellow Jedi.
Question for readers: Besides “beer nerd,” is there another label that accurately describes your beer expertise?