There are many stereotypes that I’m sure I embody, but at least two are centered around craft beer culture. Let’s discuss…
1. I have a beard.
2. I like to shotgun beer
Let’s start with the beard.
Having just come off my first impromptu beard competition win at the House of Blues Local Brews and Local Grooves this past weekend, I freely admit nothing is more stereotypical about a craft beer drinker, brewer, sales rep, etc. than having a beard. I get it, I appreciate it, and obviously it doesn’t bother me. I didn’t always have a beard, but I’m glad that I do now.
In fact the bearded brewer is a tale as old as Belgian Monks have been brewing Dubbels and Tripels. Martin House Brewing Company co-owner & head brewer Cody Martin’s life was actually saved by his beard. According to Martin, “At the end of the brew, while we were cooling our wort we opened the wrong valve and I was rewarded with a powerful stream of sweet boiling wort. Directly in the face, shoulder and arm. Mostly the face. I’ve still got a scar on my arm, but my beard protected my face completely. I tell people my beard saved my life.”
So bearded brewers are one thing, but now beards are actually making it into beer. Rogue Brewing in Newport, Oregon released a beer made from yeast cultivated from brew master John Maier’s 34-year-old beard. Maier, who vows never to cut his beard, learned that his facial hair was home to a unique yeast blend, he said, “It was in front of me the whole time and it only took two centuries and five decades to grow.” I got to meet John at their brewpub in Oregon a few years ago, when my beard was just a mere fledgling, and got to try his beard beer. It was delicious!
Call it hipster, counterculture, what have you, but beards and awesome facial hair in general can actually bring likeminded people together. I was at my daughter’s soccer practice a year ago and I and another bearded dad gave each other “the nod” from across the field. You’ve seen “the nod” before, two guys passing on the street notice they like something about each other, could be wearing the same band t-shirt, college colors, etc. The nod can be just that, a quick flick of the chin acknowledgement, or can be followed up with something audible, “what’s up”, “Go Aggies”, or “Nice Beard”. On this particular occasion, I received the latter to which I returned the compliment, and the next thing I knew we were talking about home brewing, him and his family relocating to Texas, and before I knew it I had a new friend and was even invited to his son’s birthday party the following weekend.
Beards, although not necessary, are part of the unofficial craft beer uniform. If I see a young couple walking through Trinity Groves and I notice the guy has an epic beard or fancy ‘stache, 9 out of 10 times he’s going to be walking into our shop, rather than any of the other great restaurants that neighbor us. It’s not clockwork, and there are exceptions to every rule, but probably 9 out of 10 times, I’ll give him “the nod” too.
Now on to shotguns!
When you think of beards and shotguns, unfortunately you probably think of the somehow widely popular TV show, Duck Dynasty. And while I may share their fascination for facial hair, the shotguns I’m talking about are much less destructive, well unless you count brain cells.
To shotgun a beer is to punch a hole in the side of the can with a knife, your keys, or even your thumb. Place your mouth over the hole and pop the top. The result being a rush of deliciousness down into your body at tremendous speed.
Why you ask, would someone do something like this, especially with good (sometimes expensive) craft beer? Because it’s fun. It’s a way to bond with friends at beer festivals, pint nights, or on your back patio. It’s a celebration of good beer and good times. As much as Anheuser-Busch InBev wants you to think that all craft beer drinkers spend all of their time dissecting beer, at the end of the day it is just beer (really good beer). People drink beer with friends to have fun, and shotgunning a can of beer every once in a while reminds us of this.
The shotgunning fad is here, and perhaps to stay. The very craft beer friendly band Fish Fry Bingo even changed their name to Shotgun Friday a few years ago, to mimic the hashtag that their lead singer Tony Dewry (@beerpedaler) helped to make popular on Twitter and craft beer apps like Untapped. #ShotgunFriday
So whether it’s Shotgun Monday, Wednesday, or Friday, remember that craft beer is brewed to be enjoyed, however quickly you choose, just remember, always drink responsibly!