Wednesday, May 19, 2010

We Are Not Geeks!!

I hate the term "beer geek", I loathe it, detest it and for me it engenders all manner of negative images, did I mention that I hate the term "beer geek"? Let's get this straight then, I am saying that I hate the term "beer geek", anyone still not clear on the subject of my ire this morning?

Again I will have to go through dictionary definitions, guess what people, the term "geek" existed before Bill Gates, before the internet and before hop bombs exploded all over the brewing world.

A quick lesson in etymology then, it would appear that the word "geek" has its origins in the Scots term "geck", derived from Low German which meant fool or simpleton, and was coined as "geek" in the early 20th century to describe a carnival performer, in particular a sideshow freak. Of course, language, being a human construct, evolves and the meanings of words develop throughout history. The word "geek" today has 5 major meanings:
  1. a computer expert or enthusiast,(a term of pride as self-reference, but often considered offensive when used by outsiders.)
  2. a peculiar or otherwise dislikable person, esp. one who is perceived to be overly intellectual.
  3. a person who is regarded as foolish, inept or clumsy
  4. a person who is single minded or accomplished in scientific or technical pursuits but is felt to be socially inept.
  5. a carnival performer who performs sensationally morbid or disgusting acts, as biting off the head of a live chicken.
Obviously many beer lovers have elements of some of those definitions, though I am yet to meet the craft beer drinker who also engages in chicken decapitation, having said that, if the chicken had more than 75 IBUs it might catch on.

In my experience of beer lovers, definition 3 would be a major disadvantage, would you want to be clumsy with a pint of something delicious in your hand? The latter half of definition 4 is also completely out of the window for the true beer lover because beer lovers are, again in my experience, very social people. Of course the natural habitat of the beer lover is the pub, a more social place would be difficult to find. Beer is the drink that brings people together, the great leveller of western society if you will (I hold no truck with beer being the "working man's drink" bollocks, it is the everyman drink, and no they are not the same!), geeks generally though sit apart from the great morass of society, beer lovers should be at the very heart of it.

Now perhaps I will not be causing a shift away from the term "beer geek" for the majority of people who love the amber nectar, but it would be nice to find a term which better describes the majority of beer lovers I have had the pleasure to meet in the last couple of years. Not one of them would fit the definition of a geek, as they have been heartily likable, urbane, assured, social, and without a penchant for chicken abuse.

Let's find a term worthy of them.

18 comments:

  1. From earlier discussions:

    Beerologist, libationist, beer devotee, wert guru, beer maven, beer expert, hophead, pisspot, a tippler, a grog artist, a boozer, a beer buff, a slops surveyor, an ale addict, a hops handler, a quaffer, the chairman of the brewed?

    http://www.realbeer.com/library/beerbreak/archives/beerbreak0325.php

    http://www.realbeer.com/library/beerbreak/archives/beerbreak0323.php

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  2. You've got to be a geek to know the etymology of the word "geek".

    Geek.

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  3. We live in The Golden Age of Geek. The dictionaries have not yet caught up with what "geek" means today.

    And geek makes one sound less of a twat than the many alternatives. Except possibly "buff". I like "buff", but then I come from the 20th century.

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  4. Or have an interest in language and a spare 30 seconds to look it up on dictionary.com

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  5. The shoe fits, wear it, geek!

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  6. I prfer the fifth option. or Beeronaut.

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  7. Relax, have a home brew, ya beer nerd! :D

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  8. I'd rather be having a pint with several of the fine people who have commented so far!

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  9. Pisshead. That's what I call myself.

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  10. A special word for someone who drinks beer doesn't make any more sense than a word for someone who eats bread. While we're at it, there's something worse than the term geek — people who call drinking beer a "hobby". It's not a hobby! Would you call sleeping a hobby, or eating?

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  11. There's a difference between just eating bread/drinking beer, and actively pursuing new sorts, assessing the relative merits of different ones, studying their history and discussing it all with other people interested in the same thing: at that point, it's a hobby. Most beer drinkers do not have a beer-drinking hobby, but some do.

    I see the word "breadophile" is in use. Some cheese hobbyists call themselves "curd nerds", which I particularly like.

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  12. "Curd nerds" sounds like something you'd need to get a salve for. :/

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  13. wow. you got a comment from Stan Hieronymus.

    now you are a beer nerd.

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  14. If someone chases women all the time, is that a hobby?

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  15. Seemed to work for Benny Hill!

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