So you wanna be a beer nerd? The ugly truth

Illustration by Lindsey Ataya
Illustration by Lindsey Ataya

Craft Beer is IN. It’s hip, it’s local, it’s environmentally friendly, and to top it all off, it gets you drunk. What’s not to like? I think Oprah even mentioned it (Ed Note #1: We have not yet verified the veracity of this statement).

So, you’re ready to do this. You’re ready to take the plunge and become an authentic Craft Beer Nerd, a.k.a. a member of the Craft Beererati. You have your plaid button up shirt, up-cycled shoes and you haven’t shaved in weeks. Let the oat soda flow!

Or…er, maybe not. There are definite downsides to becoming one of the Beery Elite. Perhaps you should consider the following before taking the plunge into the mash tun (Ed. Note #2: We do NOT recommend plunging into a mash tun; it’s,

like, 60 degrees C in there. You will burn alive.).


Yeah! Cheap beer! Super Bowl commercials featuring animated frogs or slow-motion horses! Cheerleaders! Summer barbecues! U-S-A! U-S-A! The one thing that ties all that together is American-style Pilsners such as Budweiser,

Molson or Labatts.

They’re not fancy-sniffing beers, but they sure taste good after a hot afternoon mowing the lawn, right? Wrong. These beers are swill: the desiccated, slightly fermented extract of horse urine filtered through straw.

Once you have craft beer, and once your taste buds become accustomed to the wild flavour party that is a finely crafted pale ale, there is no going back. You will hate Macro Swill and all that it represents.

Every slightly sweet sip of a can of Molson will taste every bit the god-awful corporate horse piss and cheapest-available ingredients that it is. You will reach a point where drinking that can of Macro isn’t even an option, and you will find yourself having wine out of a plastic cup at said summer barbecue instead, because all they have in that ice-filled cooler is Michelob Ultra.


Of course beer makes you fat. That’s why you can have Lite beer instead. It tastes the same and doesn’t make you quite as fat.

Well, once you go craft, Lite beer is off the menu. There is no Lite craft beer. Not only that, but regular craft beer has about twice as many calories as even the full strength Macro Swill equivalent. Plus, it’s so good you drink more.

Add all that up, and suddenly we understand why craft beer geeks all wear tight jeans. All jeans are tight jeans…


I have a saying: “If you want to be slightly frightened, ask me about beer.”

I love craft beer. I’ve made it an obsessive hobby of mine. If I start talking about beer, the people around me start off acting politely interested… then after a few minutes they start trying to change the subject…then a few minutes later they stop talking and just turn around and leave.

This will be you. You will be so immersed and obsessed about beer that your friends will use an entire breathless sentence to introduce you to new acquaintances: “ThisIsChuckDon’tAskHimAboutBeer”


The resurrection of the growler is the best thing to happen to beer in many decades. Fresh beer, straight from the place it was brewed, briefly to your fridge, then into your face.

However, you’ll sometimes forget your reusable growler at home, so you’ll have to buy a new one. They’re only about $5, so no biggie.

That’s how it starts. Then growlers start piling up. You might rationalize an entire kitchen cabinet given over to growlers by saying that you’re “collecting them.” They’re all a bit different, after all, and some are rather nice. That’s all the justification you need to bleed your collection over into the living room.

Fast forward a few months and anyone who walks into your house will assume you have developed a serious drinking problem (except, you know, the growlers are empty).


No, no, not THAT kind of problem (well, okay, maybe that kind of problem). I’m talking about something more aligned with the Airplane Drinking Problem: purchasing more beer than you can physically drink.

Special releases, rare one-offs, great deals on case-lots of Eclipse 50/50… all these will begin accumulating somewhere in your house. You will buy a cheap fridge off Craigslist to keep these purchases in, then you will research and buy an actual liquor cellaring cabinet to store what you have begun referring to as “my cellar.”

Spreadsheets will be filled out with particulars on your collection, and then, as your harem expands, you’ll start eyeing up a corner of your basement to insulate and cool to make a walk-in cellar. Then, stuck with a cellaring cabinet you no longer need, you’ll start writing beer articles for periodic circulars just to convince other beer geeks they need a “cellaring cabinet” so they’ll buy yours.

Which, unrelated note, anyone need a cellaring cabinet?

So yeah, that about sums it up. Still interested?

That’s on you, wo/man.

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