Beer snob confessional

I don’t bother watering it down — I’m a beer snob. 

I’ve checked in more than 400 distinct beers on Untappd, a social discovery and network app for beer lovers. I’ve completed two Beer Bibles at Fuel and Fuddle and am more than three-quarters of the way through my third. My ideal Saturday involves sampling brews with my best friend at a beer festival.

My infatuation with the brew began in high school when I helped my dad brew his own beer — I was allowed to contribute assistance, but not sample. The infatuation grew into a love affair that continues today.

My lust for beer was packed in my carry-on when I traveled to London over spring break, I wasn’t just excited to see Big Ben or walk across Tower Bridge — I was also excited about the beer.

My friends know me as a beer snob. I’m the type of person who will gladly shell out $15 to $20 for a 25-ounce bottle of a nice craft beer, and I’m in constant pursuit of new styles to try. The promise of a new city with a new beer-sphere to experience had me giddier than the commencement of pumpkin beer season.

Color me surprised when every pub I entered in London had the same five or six beers on tap. In the seven or so pubs in which I spent time while abroad, only one of them had craft beers on tap — a surprisingly low number for a city with 81 breweries within its limits, according to London Beer Guide. As I’m spoiled by seeing at least six or seven different craft beers from several breweries in nearly every bar I walk into, this was a disappointment.

With this disappointment, though, came an epiphany: Half the joy of beer comes from those you share it with. As a perpetual solo drinker, I compensate for my lack of company with a high-quality, flavorful beer. Even as I write this, I’m alone at the bar with a Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA.

In London, I overcame my disappointment fairly quickly. I pushed my disdain for large-scale commercial beers aside in favor of joining the locals in their long-standing pub tradition.

On my first night in the city, I found myself lost with no cellular data or Wi-Fi with which to find my way home. Instead of continuing to wander around Westminster aimlessly, I decided to hit pause and regroup at the next pub I saw. This was only my second experience with a London pub, as I had had my feet on the ground for only a few hours at this point.

All the beers on tap were familiar names — in other words, beers I’ve seen and drank in the U.S. I pulled a chair up to the bar as my slightly bitter, dark amber choice was set in front of me.

I promised myself I’d stay at the bar long enough to finish one drink and maybe ask for directions back to my hotel. Instead, the man sitting beside me at the bar asked me my opinion on his hat, launching a conversation about literature, philosophy and politics. I was reluctant to bow out of the conversation after just one beer. So I stayed for another, beginning to talk to the group of people behind me about soccer, ultimately causing a moment of confusion between us.

“I played football for 12 years,” I explained when I jumped into their conversation.

“You played what?” one of the guys asked.

“Football,” I repeated, trying to assimilate my language.

“Are you talking about football or soccer?”

“Not football,” I said, simulating throwing a pass downfield. “Football,” I explained, pretending to volley a ball into a goal.

For the first time all evening, I was less concerned about what was in my glass and more concerned about the lives of the people I was sharing the moment with. 

I shared several more beers with the group of people I latched on to, becoming less and less convinced that I stuck out like the tourist I was. All traces of beer snobbery were lost in the merriment.

I retained this philosophy my entire time in London. Instead of worrying about what I was drinking, I focused more on enjoying my experiences. 

I cherished the Guinness like the new friends I had made. I adored the Strongbow like the city I was beginning to love. I drank so much Fuller’s ESB I practically bled it. London Pride instilled its namesake in me with each sip. All thoughts and dreams of chili stouts and vanilla porters disappeared  from my mind.

Sometimes it’s worth it to push the snobbery aside. What’s happening in the room outside your glass is almost always better than what’s in it.

Ellie Petrosky is the Copy Chief of The Pitt News.

Write to Ellie at [email protected].