A synonym for “snob” is “highbrow”, which in turn has some synonyms which I’ll shamelessly admit I’ve been called, and some certainly not: cerebral, scholarly, wise, bookish, brainy, cultivated, cultured (haven’t been mistaken for that), erudite, intelligent, intellective (I like that one!), learned, studious.
All those sound better than “snob”, but snob I am when it comes to coffee and beer.
I think I reached the turning point on industrial coffee in 1987 when I was on the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower and I came up from the reactor spaces to get some coffee. We had pulled into Norfolk the day before and they shut down the aft mess decks, but there was still “coffee” in one of the oil pans…um, urns? That nasty mud had been cooking for more than a day. I still drank the stuff when we were a sea, but I really needed a tongue scraper. Bunn-made drain cleaner is only slightly better in my book.
I used a french press and drip filter pots for a while, and then when we were in Korea, Andrea read about something called an Aeropress.I got rid of my drip and espresso makers right after I tried it.
It turns out that the folks who make the Aerobie Flying Ring also make an awesome coffee maker. Little filter disk on the bottom, big scoop(s) of grounds, pour in hot water, stir for 10 seconds, insert plunger and slowly push down.
I’ve said for years that it can make bad coffee good and good coffee better. I know four people who converted after one cup…and one took his to Afghanistan twice. That’s the cool part – you just need filters, ground coffee, and hot water. Perfect for the hiker, camper, deployed…and me (I keep one at work as well as at home).
Now, there are other keys to good coffee. The water has to be filtered, and the right temperature is 200-205 °F. I can set the temperature on my new kettle (snob, right?)
Beans should be recently, but not just (must off-gas), roasted, and I like dark roasts. I don’t need $40 per pound Ethiopian beans … Costco’s organic Sumatra beans are very good and suit me fine (only partial snob). Columbian Supremo medium roast beans are not…but that’s me. The Aeropress makes them drinkable (okay, snob again).
When I was looking for a decent picture to show the device, I found a page that showed how to brew with an inverted Aeropress. This I must try!
And the Aeropress try you must if you want good coffee and can mangle the language like Yoda.
Not only am I a beer snob, in that I only like craft beers (I won’t drink stuff advertised during the Super Bowl) and I can’t stand drinking beer from a bottle, I’m a snob within the world of beer snobs: I don’t like very many lagers, and on the ale side I don’t like many Belgians.
My preference is for a dark or bitter beer, though I won’t refuse a sour. Unfamiliar with that style? Flemish sours or Flanders Red Ales can taste something like sour ciders, but are thoroughly beer.
Now, lagers are what are sold the most in the world. The BudMillerCoors near-water (snob?) drinks are of the order “American lager”. Lagers are fermented at lower temperatures (“cold brewed”? well, of course…they’re lagers) with something called bottom-fermenting yeasts. Lagers take longer to ferment than ales, which is a wonderment that the mega-breweries use that style. Lagers are generally lighter bodied and mostly use something called noble hops, which are low in bitterness…a serious head-scratcher for me. Why? Why? No bitter?
Not entirely a snob-within-a-snob, I don’t mind a Sam Adams Boston Lager when it’s the last of their variety packs, and I’ve had black lagers that I do like, but on the whole, I’ve not met too many lagers I’ll go back to, and that includes dunkels.
Now ales…are another matter entirely. Top-fermenting yeasts, warmer temp and so many complex flavors! (snob?) Ales can be blond (borderline on those for me) through India Pale Ales all the way to stouts, which are usually quite, quite dark. Note: Guinness is not an example of a good stout – and also note this is my blog, my opinion, and yes…snob. In fact, tonight’s beer is a stout:
It’s very, very good (if you like that sort of thing) and has a decent 8.1% ABV – that would be Alcohol By Volume. And do note the glass. Snobs use snifters and tulips (concentrates the aromas) as well as other types of glasses!
You know, a quick shot on beer snobbery doesn’t do the craft justice. I suppose I need to break out the differences on another day, and be sure to include my thoughts on Belgians.
We Like Beers
One additional note for today: In January, my wonderful wife suggested that I start a beer page on Facebook. There are many already and a plethora more on the net. BeerAdvocate.com is huge…and impersonal … but I use it as a starting point when deciding whether to try a new beer. Excellent resource. Untappd is a mobile app that can help you find a nice place to get a good beer. Still, I created a group for my friends, their friends, and their friends…
My page, brilliantly called We Like Beers, is a place where folks can share the beer they just had (pics and words…we haven’t figured out how to install a Star Trek food replicator), set up tours – there are so many breweries out there! – share their likes and dislikes. We’re small so far, but we’re even international … someone from Sweden asked to join and contributed a lot from the start.
Check out the link. Join if you want, or lurk if you don’t – I’ve kept it an open group for that reason.