We all have our little idiosyncrasies that some might find annoying and others find charming. Okay, I guess everyone finds them annoying. Point is, there’s a million things that each and every one of us does on a regular basis that probably drive those around us completely nuts. Apparently being an Alehead makes you one of the most annoying people that any of your non-Alehead friends will encounter during the course of a day. Did you know that no one cares that you scored a sweet trade and got to try the #3 rated Russian Imperial Stout? I was shocked too, but seriously, no one cares. Although we’re an incredibly annoying bunch, our most annoying trait probably lies in the fact that we find those around us even more annoying than we are. Look no further than when you order a beer and everything doesn’t go exactly as you planned. Have you ever been questioned on your choice? Served the wrong glassware? Maybe you asked a simple question about the hopiness of a Pale Ale and were told “It’s not real hoppy like Heineken, yuck”. As a discerning Alehead, you know your beer and expect those serving you to have at least a working knowledge of what their stubby little fingers are setting in front of you. We know this isn’t always the case.
The following 5 quotes have been relayed to me by bartenders, waitresses, friends, and even my dad over the past couple of weeks. I’m annoyed by everything, because I’m a huge prick, but I think most people will find these situations at least a little bit irksome. If you’re a beer lover though, I’m sure these would cause you to smash your bottle on the bar and start cuttin’ up the joint.
Scenario A: “The list is really long, why don’t you tell me what you usually like and I’ll pick something out for you?”
Scenario B: “Just get me a Lager”
Scenario C: “Do you want the glass dipped in Cinnamon Sugar?”
Scenario D: “What IPA’s do you have?”
Scenario E: “Are you drunk?”
Scenario A: Sitting at a table in a small bistro that I know to have decent beer, I ask the waitress what’s on draught only to find that they’re now only serving beer by the bottle. Fair enough, now let me see the bottle list so I can see what my options are. When I ask the waitress for a bottle list, which I know they have since I can see someone at the bar holding it in front of them, the waitress responds with a sigh. “The list is really long, why don’t you tell me what you usually like and I’ll pick something out for you?” How do you respond to that? Oh miss, I like beer that’s awesome, do you have any of that? If I didn’t have a dinner menu in front of me, would I expect to tell the waitress what I “Usually” like to eat and expect her to pick something out for me? Yes, it’s cool when you can do that, but this is not that kind of place. When I finally got the list of 20 or so beers, mostly mediocre locals with a smattering of imports, I picked out a Chimay Blue as it was clearly the best in the bunch. I wonder what the waitress would have said if I told her I’d like a Belgian Strong Dark Ale with a malty backbone and a boozy finish. I probably would have ended up with a Stella. I’m saying all this with the tone that the waitress was clueless about beer, which she was, but I don’t think this scenario goes any better even if the waitress knew her beer. Why would one assume that I don’t know my beer and try to take matters into their own hands. And, if I don’t know my beer, why would I ask not only what’s on draught but also what the replacement bottle list is so I could make my own choice. Maddening I tell you. Maddening. I’m guessing that if I asked for the wine list, I wouldn’t have been passed off and asked what I liked instead.
Scenario B: Went to Fenway Park this weekend. As any good Alehead knows, it is very possible and really not all that hard to seek out good beer at Fenway and most other large sporting venues as long as you’re willing to pay a premium and want the smallest size in the park. I don’t mind paying an additional $2 and getting 4 oz. less, as long as I’m not getting warm, flat Bud Light poured into my cup. The beer prices aren’t the annoying part of my day though. The annoying part was asking my dad what kind of beer he wanted and the old man responding with, “Just get me a Lager”. Now, my dad does like good beer but he tends to only drink two beers with regularity – Bud heavy and Sam Lager. He’ll drink whatever I bring over, but I know beer isn’t really his thing so I don’t push it too far. Before I got up from my seat, I asked my dad if he just wanted a Bud Light but the look on his face led me to believe that I might as well just walk home if I carry back a 20oz bucket of swill like that. Back to the original answer though, “Just get me a Lager”. On the concourse I saw Stella, Sam Lager, Sam Oktoberfest, Harp, Bud/Miller/Coors, Heineken, and Amstel. Lots of Lagers. See, you can’t tell someone you want a beer based on the fermentation techniques. That’s just dumb. The annoying part in all of this is that I knew what he wanted, same as I know what anyone would want that asked for a Lager. If you’re using “Lager” to describe the beer, I know you want a light Lager and probably want something on the lines of a Stella or a Coors. I’ll just assume you don’t want anything with “Light” in the name, otherwise you would have asked for a light beer. I’m upset that I know you don’t mean Sam Lager and definitely don’t mean Marzen or Double Bock, but that’s okay. In the end I came back with a Harp since I was already getting myself a Smithwicks. I couldn’t bring myself to get him a Bud heavy, even though the serving was bigger and cheaper. As I passed the Wachusett Brewery stand on the way back I wept, for I had missed an opportunity for a quality micro for myself. Too bad the answer wasn’t “Just get me an Ale”. Though confused, I would have made a better choice.
Scenario C: Real simple. Ordered a Shipyard Pumpkin Ale. First question, “Do you want that in a pint or in the 22oz mug?” I think we all know the answer to that, don’t we now. The next question took me by surprise though. “Do you want the glass dipped in Cinnamon Sugar?” Wait, what? No I do not want the glass dipped in Cinnamon Sugar. Why the hell would I want the glass dipped in Cinnamon Sugar? I’m still upset about this one, although by this point I’m kind of curious how that would have tasted. The beer wasn’t all that good, but I’m blaming that on the frozen mug. I hate fucking frozen mugs!
Scenario D: “What IPA’s do you have?” 90% of this quote is perfectly fine with me. On the surface, it means someone cares about beer. I don’t care if you don’t know the difference between a Pale Ale and an IPA or even a British IPA from a West Coast. That’s okay. As long as you recognize that there are actual styles of beer, you’ve got a leg up on probably 80% of this beer-drinking nation of ours. The problem I have is that people who are just getting into better beer tend to lean on IPA’s and forget about every other style that’s out there. I never hear anyone asking what Brown Ales are on tap or what Porters they have, just IPA’s. I’ve been to bars with 20 taps and a huge bottle list and constantly hear that same question, “What IPA’s do you have?”. It’s getting annoying. I hear it from my friends, I hear it from strangers. There are other beers out there my friends. Branch out. Then you can come back and have your IPA. I’m already wondering why I’m listing this quote. Did I ask this question? God I love IPA’s.
Scenario E: “Are you drunk?” Yes, now back off. I’ll just assume we’re all in agreement on this one. If you have to ask me if I’m drunk, chances are you’re already too late. Enjoy the ride, it’s only downhill from here.
You might be surprised to know that some things don’t annoy me. I don’t mind that you ask me if I want a lemon in my Hefeweizen. As long as you ask and I can politely say no, you’re doing no harm by me. I don’t mind if I’m asked if I want a frozen mug. If I order a root beer, then yes, I want a frozen mug that instantly fuses to my hand and the only way my hand will later thaw out is when I grab that plate that you just told me was too hot to touch. For my beer though, I don’t want your damn frozen mug. I wish I could tell you that I don’t want your tap lines run through a block of ice either, but that’s just being picky. No, that annoys me too. I guess there really aren’t that many things that don’t annoy me and I’m sure I’m not alone in that. I used the examples above because they’re the easiest to remember, but there are countless other injustices that I’ll surely think of the second I post this piece.
So fellow readers, the Doctor is in. Tell me what’s bothering you. I’m here to listen. What bartender pissed you off? What buddy of yours brought over a 6 pack of Sam Light and drank your Hop Wallop instead? What package store owner told you he had two bottles of CBS waiting for you, only to find that he already sold them by the time your mom dropped you out front? Let your voice be heard!