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    Monday, 28 January 2008

    Talking Beer With The 'Third Group'

    I go drinking with three disparate groups. Group One is my family and friends. These people all know about my obsession with beer and fuel it with gifts from trips abroad, sometimes bringing me gems and sometimes pretty dull stuff. To them I am the authority on all things beer and what I say goes. They are happy to trust that I am right and will look to me for opinions and facts.

    Group Two is my beer friends. Guys I have met from RateBeer. We love nothing more than meeting up, drinking beer, talking beer and generally sharing beer anecdotes. To most people we must sound boring; but you'd love to join us wouldn't you! We all enjoy hearing each others opinions, and even though I know that some of my friends' beer knowledge is far greater than mine, I am still treated as an equal. All of our opinions matter, and we all have something to offer.

    Group Three are the hardest group to drink with. These are people I know for other reasons, yet we may still end up in the pub at some point during the day. Being in the pub, drinking beer, the topic of conversation is often about what we are drinking, and people may give their opinion on the merits of their drink, and often incorrect beery facts are recounted. I really struggle with these conversations. These people are not aware of my beer life. They don't know I've sampled more than 5000 beers; they don't have the first inkling that I write a beer blog. They just think I'm one of them: a casual beer fan. Sometimes I corect them; sometimes I'll talk about a beer I've had. I'm not sure whether they think what I'm saying has any credence at all. They may think I'm just spouting nonsense. They may wish I kept my opinions and comments to myself. Actually I may think that too. It's not easy being bothered enough about beer that I want to correct peoples errors, but perhaps I should just stay silent.

    I'm interested in your experiences with the third group. Do you just go along with the flow, or do you thrust your vastly superior knowledge on them? Or are you actually lucky enough to not have this problem?


    brendan said...

    Unfortunately enough for me, I have a thick streak of know-it-all-ism running through my character. I try to reign it in, but when someone says something stupid, I have to jump in, really it's quite compulsive almost. Could be worse, I could be more unpleasant.

    Kieran Haslett-Moore said...

    I try not to make people feel stupid, but I certainly wouldnt suffer foolishness in most situations.

    young camra collectiv said...

    In my part of the world (the leafy suburbs of Southeast London) it's difficult to find anyone who has the first incling about good beer. Equally difficult to find a pub with an exciting, changing beer lineup (Greene King rule these parts). I often find myself rolling my eyes at comments on how good the Stella is, hence do a lot of drinking (and beer talking) elsewhere, like central London or Leicester. Still, if my cultured opinion is asked for (and sometimes if it is not) I will happily chip in.

    Even if the oafs you refer to do impose their ale untruths on you, they can't be as deluded as the fizzy swill-drinking yob masses.

    The Beer Nut said...

    I'm exactly the same as Brendan. However, perhaps luckily for me, my Third Group aren't really interested in beer.

    Bailey said...

    I'm pretty good at letting people get stuff wrong, unless I think they're really interested in finding out more. Is it going to make my life any worse if a bloke from work thinks rauchbier is made by putting bits of charcoal in the beer? No. In fact, correcting him in front of everyone will just make me look like a complete ****. Beer is important to me, but it's not important enough to be rude to my friends over. I'm not saying it's easy -- I have a ludicrously over-developed knowitall gland...

    Paul Garrard said...

    If you can put people right without making them feel put down or inferior then a bit of education can't be a bad thing I would of thought. Trouble is there are a lot of people thet just wouldn't listen anyway. I just humour those.

    Boak said...

    I would add that from a female perspective, it's rarely worth it, even though my inner beer geek is dying to get out. There are few blokes that can stand being "corrected" by a woman on subjects such as beer and football, so you will end up in a pointless argument.

    Whenever I'm tempted to pipe up with something, I always think of Alan Partridge. "Stop getting Bond wrong!

    Of course, if they ask for my opinion because they know I'm into beer and homebrewing... well, may god have mercy on their souls.

    maeib said...

    Some really interesting comments. Cheers. These people are my friends/acquaintances through a work environment but don't really know about the private side of me (ie beer). I wouldn't seek to humiliate them by correcting them as there's usually a large group of us drinking together. Sometimes though I cannot help but correct them as politely as possible. I'm not sure whether they believe what I'm saying, but I suppose its their loss!!

    Stonch said...

    "I wouldn't seek to humiliate them by correcting them"

    Why would it humiliate them?

    I've never found any of this to be an issue, let alone a problem. It just comes down to very basic social skills - either one has them, or one doesn't.

    Ted said...

    I'm quite dogmatic about where I go drinking and generally make it plain that I won't put up with a shit pub. If the concensus is to use a pub with no decent beer then I'll give it a miss. I used to be more accomodating but life's too short.

    As a result I don't tend to spend much time with this third group.

    That said, work colleagues still know I'm knowledgeable about beer and do show interest and I'm more than happy to chat about it.

    haddonsman said...

    "These people are not aware of my beer life."

    Isn't this the issue? Knowledge shouldn't be a dirty secret. Though, sometimes the problem with beer knowledge seems to be that if you're known to drink real ale, frequent festivals and make any sort of notes you're seen as someone who must be a socially retarded misfit.

    I do a fair bit of imbibing with the third group. I try to shepherd then into decent pubs that also sell nitro-beater. Then, I have been known to drink like the 'designated driver' in beer-poor pubs - despite the fact that I don't drive.

    But the greatest challenge a beery fan can have is to make the love of beer sound less geeky. Be knowledgeable, be confident. And face facts; there are worse things to be knowledgeable about. Like prozone stats for those fat layabouts at Man Utd ;-)

    Stonch said...

    "those fat layabouts at Man Utd ;-)"

    Judging by recent press coverage those layabouts, far or not, are getting laid big time. If only a knowledge of beer could achieve the same results, I'd leave the Jerusalem with a hottie every night. As it is I'm lucky if the Long Armed Goon comes back to mine for a nightcap. And even then he'll only go to first base.