On becoming an “Expert!”
Stan Hieronymous visited for a couple days with his wife, and colleague, Daria Labinsky, and the precocious nearly teenage daughter Sierra. (A fun moment, eavesdropping on Sierra and my daughter Anne kavetching about being the children of beer people; “So, like are you so completely sick of breweries, yet, or what!”)
Of the many conversations had with Stan, the one that kept percolating to the top was the meaning of being a beer expert. Stan, as those of you who have read his writing must know, is a wide ranging thinker. In print and in person, Stan keeps asking me what I mean by being a beer expert. It’s not easy to answer; noted beer writer Michael Jackson was a beer expert and Doug Muhleman, former head of all things beer for Anheuser-Busch, Inc. is also a beer expert. However, it is hard to compare the worlds of these two men beyond their abiding passion for great beer.
After talking with dozens of people about this journey, I’ve concluded there are four things needed in becoming a beer expert. First, I am going to have to understand styles; not just the classic styles outlined by the GABF or the BJCP, but the debate about styles, too. Second, I’m going to have to learn the vocabulary of beer and how to use it. It’s not enough to say something is sour or dry, is it green apple sour or mineral dry? Third, I’m also going to have to understand the common problems in a beer and their origins. Finally, I’m going to have to learn about the technology and chemistry and whatever else that goes into making beer.
Oh well, that doesn’t seem like much at all, now does it. I mean really, a few months should do it, don’t you think? How about “sort of” a beer expert, Stan?
On another note, yes I suck at this blogging! I’ve got maybe six pieces that I’ve sort of started, but haven’t finished and “loaded.” However, my job is a publisher. I publish the best writers on beer in the world. So, yeah, I’m not so quick on the writing. Yet!