Dating via Craft Beer

24 Jan

I’ve recently subscribed to an online dating website in order to help jump-start my flailing dating life… and in setting up those first meet-ups with fellas, I decided to establish a go-to bar for these dates, so that I was on comfortable territory. My criteria were as follows:

  • The bar had to be in my neighborhood – a first date/meeting guarantees nothing, so I don’t want to travel out of my ‘hood’
  • There had to be good craft beer available at the bar
  • It couldn’t be one of my ‘regular’ haunts, so that:
    • I wouldn’t be distracted by people I know, and…
    • If it didn’t work out or he ended up being a crazy, if he went back there, he wouldn’t find me 🙂

So… one of the interesting things I’ve discovered, is that I’m totally judgy about what my ‘dates’ have ordered, in terms of the beer! The first time I had a date with a guy there, I ordered Ithaca Flower Power… and he ordered Hoegaarden.  The second time I met a guy there I ordered Flower Power again… and he ordered a Stella, and the third guy I met up with there ordered a Newcastle, while I ordered a 21st Ammendment Back in Black IPA.

Now, I clarify to people ALL the time that I consider myself to be a “beer geek,” not a “beer snob”… but I think that I’ve been snobbing-out a bit on these dates! I mean, I’ve intentionally selected a bar that does have a decent selection, both on tap and in bottle, of craft beer options… and I guess that in addition to the obvious reason of wanting to make sure that I’d be able to drink what would make me happy… I think that maybe I also picked it partly so that I could judge these guys on what they ordered!

Shame on me???

I’m torn…

See, I know that in a LOT of ways, I’m still definitely a beer novice. AND, part of my “mission” is to help introduce girls to craft beer who either aren’t familiar with it or staunchly insist that they do not like beer. SO… *I* was willing to learn about craft beer, and started from a point of zero knowledge… and I’m willing to help guide other gals through the exploration of craft beer… but it would seem that I have a bit of a double-standard when it comes to what beer guys choose to drink!

There’s a lot of talk in the social media craft beer sphere about how us ladies don’t want to be singled out in terms of breweries or bars marketing specifically to women… maintaining that we’re just as interested in quality, and beers with robust flavors, as men are.

And yet… we are in the minority still—those of us ladies who are big-time lovers and advocates of craft beer—and so, I will honestly admit that I love the look of surprise and admiration that we women can often experience when we are able to hold our own in a conversation about beer, or when we belly up to the bar and DON’T need help ordering a beer (heck, and often times end up offering advice to a guy!)… because, let’s face it… guys still don’t expect us to be truly into and knowledgeable about beer. Right?

And yes, there’s definitely a huge contingency of men who are active in the social media sphere who are aware of our presence and recognize and appreciate our love of craft beer (many of whom are on the producer side of the equation!)… but for the randoms you run into at a ‘regular’ bar, *we* still come as somewhat of a [pleasant] surprise. And I like that.

Apparently, what I don’t like, is a guy who isn’t up to speed.

I know, I know… I shouldn’t judge… and I *know* that there’s always the opportunity for me to shepherd a guy through the wonderful world of craft beer, just as so many guys have shepherded us ladies through the wonderful world of craft beer over the years… but… ugh, can I help it if I find myself frustrated that a guy is ordering a Hoegaarden, Stella or Newcastle??

Or… should I take the high road and acknowledge that everyone has different tastes, and if that’s what they like, then they should go with it?! 😦 Such a hard line to tread…

And… in the spirit of full disclosure, I have to admit—’cause I know some of my friends will call me out on this—that I do drink macro beer… but hey, sometimes I just want some fun water, and am too full to have a good craft beer! I never hide this fact, and am comfortable with ‘slumming it’ on occasion… but what I’m talking about here is first impressions… 🙂

Oh, and I should, in all fairness, add on that the guy who ordered a Newcastle is interested in good, craft beer… and even (in subsequent dates) procured for me some of his friends’ homebrew… but Newcastle was his first love, so he’s happy to order it when he sees it on the menu. Even though my initial reaction to his order was one of judgment, he did prove himself to be beer-worthy in the end 🙂

Soooooo… ladies, who else among you judges guys on their beer selection? Am I on my own here?

And fellas… if you’re into craft beer, do you think we should stick to our beer-loving guns… or cut the guys a break?!

~HH~

28 Responses to “Dating via Craft Beer”

  1. LA (@LA786) January 24, 2012 at 4:05 PM #

    I looooooooved this post. I am constantly judging men/dates by the beer they order when we’re out. I know it’s probably awful, but if they order something mass produced when there are delicious craft brews begging to be tapped my opinion of them lowers. Can’t help it.

    I also love 21st amendment’s black ipa. Sooo good!

    • thehopshoney January 24, 2012 at 4:09 PM #

      So glad to know that I’m not alone on this one! lol 🙂
      21st A’s Back in Black is a great beer for camping!

  2. Kathleen January 24, 2012 at 4:08 PM #

    I’m in exactly the same boat, and what I started doing a few dates ago is this: before we place our drink orders, I am sure to slip into early conversation that I love trying new beers when I have the opportunity because there are so many small breweries trying to get noticed, and usually they have amazing beers to offer. Sometimes my mini-speech gets him to order something new too, but even if it doesn’t, he’ll usually ask to try mine and then order the same thing for the next round.

    If he doesn’t, don’t sweat it – at least he’s not drinking wine on the first date! You can educate him later when he opens your fridge and sees nothing but craft.

    • thehopshoney January 24, 2012 at 4:11 PM #

      Thing is, in my dating profile I mention that I write a blog about beer… and in the “you should message me if…” section, I wrote “you want to grab a beer… and not the fizzy, yellow shit!” So… they should be coming into the date aware that I’m into “good” beer… 🙂 But yes, your tactic is a great one to employ… and suitably subtle 🙂

      • Kathleen January 24, 2012 at 4:20 PM #

        I love it! I put in my profile that I work for a beer company and sometimes even that slips by them. I don’t hold it against them too much. They’re probably like me and don’t look too far past the photos and ANYTHING next to the job description. I’m so glad I found this blog. Nice to know I’m not alone.

  3. njbeernerd January 24, 2012 at 4:15 PM #

    Honestly, I totally understand. A lot of my time is based on Craft Beer. Dinner destinations, events etc all are what I like to do. I don’t think it’s unfair to want to share that in common with someone. Don’t be so hard on yourself

  4. Scott Nixon January 24, 2012 at 4:30 PM #

    Maybe you should be suggesting beers for them.

  5. Andrea January 24, 2012 at 5:08 PM #

    I admit that I totally judge people on their beer selections, be it women or men. If I find out they don’t know any better, well that’s one thing. They can learn and most times are open to learning. It’s when they know there are other options and better beer available that they still reach for the macros. Meh.

    Maybe for the next dates, you could go to a tasting? That way they are tasting different craft beers and that might get the conversation rolling a bit more?

    • thehopshoney January 24, 2012 at 6:39 PM #

      Andrea – I love the idea of going to a tasting for a first date!!! It not only gives you an “activity” to do together, but also would help to get the craft beer conversation rolling – fantastic call 🙂

  6. Kevin Smith January 24, 2012 at 5:12 PM #

    I have no problem whatsoever with you judging based on the beers ordered (although I might cut the Newcastle dude some slack, as you did – will come back to that). Let’s start with the idea that you’re looking for someone with whom you are compatible – that doesn’t mean they have to have the same taste in beer as you do, but it would be nice if they had the same understanding, and were able to at least pay attention to your text. As for the beers themselves…

    There are certain beers that non-craft drinkers perceive as craft (Hoegaarden, Stella), and while not terrible, they’re not particularly interesting either. Yes, there are legit fans of those beers, but I’ve always seen these as gateway beers – not great, but they might get more people moving from the macros to craft.

    I’ll never knock someone for drinking a macro – you like what you like, but as I mentioned before, you’re looking for someone who understands and pays attention to your ad. I also get the first love thing – I cut my teeth on Guinness and Newcastle, and I still enjoy both on occasion.

    As an aside – yes, women are in the minority of beer drinkers, however, if you research the stats (don’t have ’em in front of me, sorry), the population of female craft beer drinkers out there is proportionately higher than those who drink macros (offhand, I want to say that the difference is akin to 10% v 30, but I wouldn’t quote me on that). All that says to me is that women are WAY more trustworthy in beer choice when they do drink beer. Sorry…rambling at this point…

    • thehopshoney January 24, 2012 at 9:46 PM #

      I do agree that having an interest in common – in this case, craft beer – is important/desireable… and I am willing to help someone navigate the hoppy/malty waters, so long as they at least express an interest in it! And the (non-official) stats you mention about how women who drink beer at all tend to migrate toward craft beer, is pretty impressive… and inspiring! All the more weight added to the idea that breweries don’t need to market “chick beer” to us… we’ll happily take the good stuff 🙂

  7. Tim Voltz January 24, 2012 at 5:17 PM #

    Well, one thing to consider… if I were in one of these guys’ shoes I may opt for a “good” beer that I know I like, rather than risk ordering a beer I hate, or turn into a high-maintenance tool who asks for tastes of 3-4 different choices. At least on a first date, I’d be concerned about that. I like craft beer too, but there are many I’m not familiar with. And I have very strong opinions about what kinds of beer I do NOT like.

    Oh, and … *ahem*… you misspelled Ithaca. 😉

    • thehopshoney January 24, 2012 at 6:38 PM #

      Man, Tim… what would I do without you!! I’ve updated Ithaca 🙂
      I definitely get the idea of sticking with what you know, especially on a first date… totally valid point!

  8. Amie January 24, 2012 at 6:39 PM #

    No kidding… When I go out with a guy I TOTALLY judge him based on the beer he orders. When I worked at a bar I even turned down dates based on the beer the guy was drinking. I can’t expect a guy to have the same level of knowledge that I have, I’d like to see him show that he has an open mind with the beer he orders. 🙂

    • thehopshoney January 24, 2012 at 9:39 PM #

      I *knew* that you’d 100% be able to relate to this post, Amie 🙂

  9. Eileen January 24, 2012 at 8:08 PM #

    Love this! I have two pertinent comments:

    I once met a match.com date at Vol de Nuit (Belgian beer lounge), which he had chosen. I was pumped. Then we got there and he ordered Jack & Coke to which the bartender slapped the menu in front of him with a snide, “we don’t serve that here.” It was hilarious, except I had to spend the next hour with him.

    Also, I’ve got my current squeeze away from the shitty lagers and onto IPAs. We’re both happier for it. hahahaha

    • thehopshoney January 24, 2012 at 9:41 PM #

      I can’t even believe that a guy picked VdN & ordered Jack & Coke!! And major kudos to you for getting your man into good beers!!!

  10. swift_ny January 25, 2012 at 9:36 AM #

    TOTALLY fair game to judge a guy based on the beer he orders, esp. since that’s one of your special areas of interest. I’m a book nerd, cinephile, and exercise freak and could not date a guy into semi-literate bestsellers, “Transformer” movies, or who thinks strolling to the subway is a marathon. It’s about establishing common ground, and like you say, first impressions do count. And I’ll admit that I hope a guy will know at least as much as I do about certain topics (not fair, perhaps, but honest). Cheers, dear! Judge on and don’t feel bad about having good taste!

    • thehopshoney January 25, 2012 at 12:15 PM #

      Thanks!!! & you’re right… I’m using beer as my area of judgment, but people who are into books, movies, food, etc. totally judge based on those areas of interests, so why shouldn’t it be OK for me to do it about beer?! 🙂

  11. Ashley V Routson January 25, 2012 at 1:10 PM #

    Oh what a conundrum. So many good points in this post, I do not know where to start…

    As for men, or women for that matter, ordering macro beer, I find that it is most often do to lack of education than lack of a good palate. The fact that these men didn’t order an adjunct lager, does give you some hope. Instead of judging them on their order, and then watching them sip it down with anguish, use that opportunity to show off your own knowledge as well as convert them to the lighter side.

    I have found that, in most major and most “beverage savvy” metropolises, converting people to “local” beer is the easiest argument. It isn’t offensive to say, hey I love supporting the local economy and craft beer scene, why don’t we try something from such and such brewery. Instead of declaring yourself a craft beer snob who would rather drink piss water than yellow fizzy beer, try taking a less direct, more discreet approach. Local is a hot word. In this tough economic time, most American would rather our dollars stay in this country, in our backyard, than shipped over seas. It will make you look environmental/ and economically smart… and it will get him to branch out and try something different.

    If that doesn’t work out, you can always make a counter suggestion based on their original order. Stella? How about Brooklyn Lager instead? Hooegarden? Have you ever tried Allagash White Beer? Same style, but way more flavorful! Oh, you like Newcastle? Have you ever tried Tommyknocker Nut Brown Ale, similar in flavor, but made in America.

    As for women being a minority, I am in the minority with my opinion on the matter. Whereas I want more women to drink beer, I also want more men to drink beer, and don’t necessarily believe in treating the two sexes differently. Education is the greatest barrier to getting people to drink craft beer. I find that, once people are educated, they are more confident in their purchasing decisions.

    In order to really drive the point home and change their behavior, we need to create an argument where the other person just can’t say no. And even more than that — if they do say no, they need to feel guilty for doing such. We have to play to their psyche, give them cognitive dissonance, and really really make them evaluate their purchasing behaviors.

    Love this post! Thanks G, and good lucky with the dating thing 🙂 And if it makes you feel better, my boy is a huge craft beer snob, and still proudly drinks Coors from time to time. Sooooooo, you are not alone.

    • thehopshoney January 25, 2012 at 4:12 PM #

      Ashley – thanks for the great commentary! Your suggestion about using the ‘local’ angle is spot on, and definitely an easy strategy to employ here in NYC, with so many great local New York State breweries producing some great beers! (btw, there’s a *new* #craftbeer bar in Union Square that only serves beer produced in NY state! For your next visit…)

      I think with these guys, I didn’t offer the suggestions for alternate beers because A) while the bar does serve craft beer, it is not a craft beer bar per se… B) I always wonder about treading that fine line about not bruising a guy’s ego right at the get-go, and even subtly implying that they’ve picked a wrong/bad beer would likely make me feel like I’m coming off as a bit of a know-it-all (which I’m not), and we are talking about first impressions here… and C) I truly wanted to see what they would go for, without any outside input! In other words: I prefer to judge silently on a first date, rather than vocally 😉

      Andrea had a great suggestion in another comment that sort of bridges the gap… going to a tasting (or, I suppose, suggesting flights at a craft beer bar if there’s no formal event available), so that if the gent has not yet been exposed to good beer, he can sample and we can get a conversation rolling about it! 🙂

      And thanks for reassuring me that I’m not the only macro-drinking beer geek out there 😉

  12. Hoptomology January 25, 2012 at 1:27 PM #

    Haha! Too funny!
    Well, at least if the date bombs, you’ll still be able to enjoy a good beer!

  13. Notorious P.A.T. (@PatsHoppedUp) January 25, 2012 at 2:02 PM #

    From a guy’s perspective (a craft beer drinking guy, specifically), I think it is totally justified. I’ve had to dive back into the dating game after a divorce last year, and a) it’s a pain in the ass and b) I have been and will totally be evaluating my dates on what they drink. I say that not from a perspective of snobbery, but because craft beer is a big part of my life. I’m a beer blogger, I attend tons of beer-related events, go to special tappings, etc. It would be great to find somebody who would be willing and able to go to these things with me rather than balking at the idea or turning her nose up at trying something new or different.

    I have no inherent problem with macro drinkers, wine drinkers, liquor drinkers, etc. I have plenty of close friends and family members that fall into those categories. But if I’m trying to find someone to have a legitimate future with, the fact is, craft beer is going to fit into that equation somewhere, so why not focus on trying to find someone who is an enthusiast as well?

    Ashley makes some great points and suggestions above about educating people and making suggestions. Of course, you will always run into the stubborn people that refuse to be persuaded into trying something new (read: my ex). But, it’s worth a try and who knows, maybe we can create some beer converts along the way, even if they aren’t “the one”!

    • thehopshoney January 25, 2012 at 4:15 PM #

      Pat – your comments about craft beer being a part of your life & wanting to share your time with someone who will be excited to attend events/tastings/dinners, etc. with you is 100% valid… I don’t ever want to feel like I’m having to drag a guy to a beer event! Though… I guess that possibility is a lot less likely than a guy worrying about having to drag his girl to a beer event… 😉

  14. sportsglutton January 26, 2012 at 8:23 AM #

    Judge away…judge away. Why would you want to be with a guy who settles for mediocre so-called specialty brews that is feed to the masses, especially when there is something better available? I’d have reservations about a woman I was on a first date with that order and/or super excited about some beer I believed to be average or crap.

    I would say though that I think your initial reaction to Newcastle being ordered is a little harsh, as I would like to think it’s a beer that at the very least gets a pass. 🙂

  15. ursula February 24, 2012 at 2:46 PM #

    NOT only do I judge them on their beer choices, I judge them on their beer bellies tooo!!

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