Rampant within the craft beer community is the fear that someday beer will become too much like wine. In fact, with the level of oenophile-phobia pervading the beer world, you would think that when beer reaches this event horizon, the irretractable pull will suddenly morph us all into pucker-faced, toile-loving douchebags who are beholden to the autocratic rule of food-pairing maxims, glass guidelines, tasting rankings of the anointed, and general snootiness. And who can blame them? Beer-wine equality is the stated goal of some brewers.
However, while drinking an Allagash Interlude recently (an excellent, vinous beer from one of the breweries most capable in converting winos to beer lovers) I had an epiphany. Douchebaggery isn’t acquired, like the cooties, rather, as my momma used to say: Douchebag is as douchebag does.
First of all, the perceived snootiness of wine and its drinkers is a little overblown. The modern wine era has become much more accessible and egalitarian. Good wine is showing up in increasingly casual settings and on more streamlined and approachable wine lists. Tastings are almost always geared toward accessibility. Trusted reviews are becoming more decentralized (along with the appurtenant proliferation of wine blogs). Further, the rule of drink what you like, when you like, in the vessel of your choice is becoming the norm.
Now granted, there are some snooty winos, but the beer community shouldn’t sell itself short. There are already plenty of sufficiently snooty beer drinkers in our midst. And we’re not as universally humble as we would like to think. Quite hypocritically, beer drinkers often simultaneously clutch to, and scoff at, beer’s humble and working-class roots. Further, I would argue that beer douches might be more dangerous than their wine counterparts…guts and beards can be insidiously disarming.
Besides, wine has more to fear from beer. Beer is more portable, convenient, and versatile. And as wine tries to become more casual and beer aspires to acceptance in more formal settings, I believe beer will ultimately fare better and end up occupying a broader portion of the boozing spectrum than wine…unless you can operate a Toro riding mower while holding a box of Franzia Chablis.
Just remember, as beer creeps closer to equal footing at the table with wine: Wine doesn’t make people douchey, people make people douchey. So, just don’t be a douche, and we’ll all be fine.
*Admittedly, Beerbecue may from time-to-time be guilty of such oenophobic hysteria; however, I am going to retroactively write it off as hyperbole and situational posturing.