My friend Bob sells wine for a local distributor. The other day he said to me, “I’m glad I don’t sell beer. That world’s becoming so pretentious.” That’s right. A wine seller called craft beer “pretentious.” But you know what, he might be right.

Think back to the last time you talked craft beer with someone immersed in the beer world. These conversations consist of bearded 30-somethings one-upping each other on who knows more about the latest hop strand out of Oregon or the nature of Brettanomyces yeast or who stood in line the longest for a release of Maine Beer Co.’s Dinner.

As a bearded 30-something who writes a beer column, I’ve found myself sucked into the vortex of such conversations many a time. As I’m trying to sound like the smartest beer drinker in the room, I often think to myself, “What have I become? It’s just beer.”

Craft beer has taken the beer drinking experience to new heights. Most of those heights are transcendent and delicious, but others are, well, silly. The beer we drink has become a fashion statement. We pick up a four-pack of small-batch, brewery-release-only cans and we flash those puppies like a Coach bag or a fresh pair of Ray Bans.

As we head into Portland Beer Week — the greatest week for craft beer lovers in Maine’s largest city — let’s look at what your beer preferences say about you. The way driving a Honda Accord says, “I’m a practical person who’s in bed by 9. But sometimes I’m naughty and binge-watch three episodes of ‘Frasier.’ ” Or the way a Hummer states to the world, “I’m not compensating for something. I swear!” Know that I love Portland’s beer scene and all who make it happen. Also know that there’s a little bit of me in every one of these categories.



There’s a very good chance you peaked in the ’90s. You mourn the day your wife threw out your stonewashed jeans and your Hoobastank cassettes. You only cut your feathered hair because your kids begged you to. Proudly, you were the first of your friends to switch from Bud Light to Export, but then you stopped, in the same way you refused to listen to another Pearl Jam album after 1994. You crave the distinct flavor of nostalgia inside each twist-off bottle of Export.


You want to like craft beer, you really do. You’ve tried on many occasions, but you find beer to be “too bitter.” So you toss an orange slice into your Allagash White. If it were socially acceptable, you’d probably drink your fruit-infested beer with a straw. But here’s the deal, every time an Allagash White is served with a slice of fruit, an angel loses its wings.


You own a hat emblazoned with the Bissell Brothers’ three-B logo. A hat and a tank top, a T-shirt, a sweatshirt, all the glassware, and your Jeep Wrangler is plastered with Bissell bumper stickers. Standing in line for the brewery-only Substance cans you Instagram a photo of the graffiti-sprayed tasting room with the X-Pro II filter. Sometimes you may forget that Bissell sells beer in addition to a brand, but then you take a drink of that dank, gold liquid and remember the beautiful beer behind all those layers of branding.



If you regularly crush 16-ounce cans of Cant Dog, your love of craft beer might be a thin veil for a drinking problem. In Belfast, where it’s brewed, there’s a verb for imbibing too many of these 10-percent imperial IPAs. It’s called getting Cant Dogged. You probably love all double IPAs, but sometimes you wonder if it’s for the bold flavors or that raging alcohol content. Mix in some session beers, why don’t you.


You either have an ironic mustache or you once had an ironic mustache or everyday you think, “I should finally grow that ironic mustache.” When you hear someone say, “I like IPAs,” you cast a condescending glance down your ironic mustache at them. IPAs, you believe, are for philistines and people who still like Bon Iver. Sour beers are cutting edge, like skinny jeans for men. You’ll love sours until everyone else starts drinking them, then you’ll move on to gruits.


You’re a masochist beer drinker. You love the pain of getting up at 4 a.m. to drive to Freeport. Standing in line, you let those around you know that you’ve stood in every Dinner line. Ever. In the winter, you sometimes forget your jacket on purpose so you can tell people, “I nearly froze to death to get this beer!” The luscious orchestra of tropical fruit hop notes just doesn’t taste right unless you had a bout of frostbite to acquire a case.

The fact that I can write this column shows the vibrancy of Maine’s beer scene. Like anything that’s becoming hip enough to garner national attention, it’s good to take a self-deprecating glance inward every so often. Now get out there and wear your beer choices proudly while you get ready for the over 50 events during Portland Beer Week.

Dave Patterson is a writer and musician from Cape Elizabeth.

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