Don’t call me a beer snob, I’m a beer enthusiast. I can’t tell you the science behind craft beer. My only rating system is “bad,” “good,” or “very good.” I don’t care about pouring the right kind of beer into the right kind of glass. I’m just someone who, like many others, got sucked into Bellingham’s flourishing beer culture and found a love of craft beer.
So what is beer culture? I’d like to define it as the environmental, social, and knowledgeable components surrounding craft beer. For example, think about when you describe your favorite Bellingham brewery to someone. I’m willing to bet you describe more than the beer itself; you’re describing the atmosphere, the people, the seating arrangement, etc. You’re the describing the culture surrounding your favorite brewery.
While the quality of beer is important, it’s typically the culture that sells the love of craft beer. You don’t hand someone who hates beer a well-crafted IPA and expect them to love and appreciate it. A love of beer stems from much more than simply the beer itself. For example, it’s possible to love the brewery scene without ever ordering a single beer. Before I was an avid craft beer drinker, I would go to a brewery with friends, order a root beer, and pretend it was a stout so I could fit in. There’s something infectious about beer culture. You see how passionate people are around you and you want to get a taste of it.
So, back to this whole beer snob thing. I’ve been struggling with Priceonomic’s title of Bellingham being the “Snobbiest Beer City in America.” The deeper you delve into Bellingham’s beer culture, the more you see the community that is intertwined with it. All our major craft breweries aren’t competing with one another, they’re supportive of each other. So most of our taps don’t serve macro-brews, but that’s because they’re filled with delicious local craft beer. Does that really make us snobby? Instead of calling Bellingham the snobbiest beer city in America, I would like to make a motion of calling Bellingham the city with the richest beer culture. That’s the city I’m proud to live in.