If you’re in any way interested in the South African beer scene, it can’t have escaped your notice that we are living in an age of abundant festivals. For a while it seemed that hardly a weekend could go by when there wasn’t a beer event of some sort taking place. And then it got even more hectic, with revellers having to choose between two or more fests happening on the same day.
Whether these festivals are large-scale events taking place in outsized tents, or neighbourhood affairs offering fewer beers than some of you might find in your local, they’re a welcome addition to the South African scene. They attract beer experts and ‘beerginners’, but however awesome they are, there always seem to be a few dodgy practices in place, a few bits of behaviour that the beer-obsessed will find infuriating. So, festival organisers and exhibitors – here are five sure-fire ways to piss off a beer snob:
1. SERVING BEER IN PLASTIC CUPS
I was recently at a market where you could put down a deposit in order to sip wine from an actual glass, but when I asked if I could rent glassware to drink my beer from, I was told there were plastic pint cups or nothing. The logic in this is beyond me – are beer drinkers such louts that we are not to be trusted with glass? If anything, beer should get dibs on glassware – while no appreciator of wine or beer wants to sip from a plastic cup, at least it doesn’t affect the mouthfeel of wine. Beer tends to foam when poured into plastic – and always will in cardboard cups – something that will affect your enjoyment of a good beer even more than the feel or possible taste of plastic will.
2. SWILLING OUT GLASSES WITH OTHER PEOPLE’S SALIVA
You don’t have to be a beer snob to find this concept gross. You might think I’m exaggerating, but hear me out. At wine events, each stand has a jug of water, which patrons rinse their glass with to freshen it up between tastings. Do you know what I’ve seen at numerous beer festivals? Exhibitors with a bucket of water behind their stand, who grab the already sipped-from glass out of their next customer’s hand and dunk it in said water, the same water they’ve dunked countless other drunk-from glasses in before. Aside from the hygiene issues here, there’s a question of logic. Why would I want you to clear the remnants of what was hopefully a pleasant taster of beer from my glass only to replace it with the remnants of 50 other people’s glasses before me?
3. OFFERING BEER PONG
Can you imagine being at a large-scale wine event and finding a corner dedicated to some game or activity that involved chugging your glass of merlot as quickly as possible? No, neither can I. For a beer snob, games like beer pong are exactly what we’re trying to distance ourselves – and more importantly our beverage of choice – from. Is there a place for boat races and beer pong in the world? For sure – but it is most definitely not at a craft beer event. Keep your chugging for frat parties and 21st birthday bashes – brewers have put too much heart into their beers for them to be mistreated in this way.
4. USING YOUR SPILLAGE AS THE BASE FOR THE NEXT PINT
Have you ever ordered a beer – be it at a bar or a festival – and noticed how quickly the pint seemed to appear before you? My advice is not to look away once you’ve ordered, just to be sure your beer is coming from the taps. Where else would it be coming from, I hear you ask – well, it might be coming from the half-dozen semi-full glasses sitting on the drip tray gradually getting tepid. I really really hate this. Whether your keg is foaming or your beer pouring skills are lacking, I don’t really care. Don’t make your problems my problems. When I order a beer, I’m paying for a freshly-poured one. I don’t appreciate you topping up the warm, flat mistake from earlier that has attracted passing fluff, flies and the odd stray strand of hair. And I don’t appreciate the pint that’s been decanted and re-decanted into various glasses, sometimes with the head scooped off with a spoon for good measure. Vendors: you know you’re guilty (some of you), so stop it. And festival-goers – stay alert and don’t let them get away with it!
5. USING THE TERM “CRAFT BEER” AS AN EXCUSE FOR SERVING CRAP BEER
As beer booms, palates blossom and people become a bit more clued up on what’s in their glass, this is thankfully happening less often, but it does still happen. ‘Yes, it’s a unique flavour isn’t it? – it’s craft beer’. ‘It’s craft beer – you just need to get used to the different taste’. Phrases like this are still uttered when a punter turns their nose up at what might well be a beer exhibiting off-flavours. Sure there are some flavours – massive amounts of hops springs to mind – that do take a little getting used to, but there’s nothing more annoying than a vendor serving off beer and using the excuse that craft beer just tastes different. The only way to deal with this is to get clued up on what beer should and shouldn’t taste like and to send back beer that smacks of cider/band aids/green apples/butterscotch. And vendors – whether you’re part of the brewery or simply selling the beer, take pride on your product and don’t be tempted to peddle an inferior pint, even if it does mean you’ll make a few extra bucks.
Are you a beer snob? Tell me what gets your goat when people mistreat your amber nectar.
This post was first published on The Craft Beer Project.