One of the only things I dislike about writing this column is that no matter the topic of the day—be it my wife, my cat, the sports teams I root for, or even, on a slow day for me personally, beer—one of you hamless eggers is guaranteed to find a way to tell me that my position is invalid because I've failed to acknowledge your own personal experience.
You know the type of comment I'm talking about. I mean, you have to—you make it every damn day. It follows this basic structure: I say I like a thing, and then you tell me I'm an idiot without a valid opinion on the matter, and then you explain why in a manner that proves you still haven't quite grasped the concept of this big, beautiful marble giving rise to various experiences and perspectives.
I can't remember if this is an exact replica of one of these maddening exchanges or if it's merely a composite, but I think it's a pretty faithful recreation: The post will be headlined "This Is A List Of 14 Nice Breakfast Places I Have Visited In The Past Calendar Year; I Really Like Breakfast Meats, You See." The first comment will be, "What? You weren't at my buddy Steve's house that morning he made his famous hummus-and-gorgonzola omelette? YOU ARE A HACK, THIS LIST IS INVALID."
These experiences are demoralizing for three specific reasons. The first and most obvious is that they mean you somehow feel entitled to disagree with the great and mighty Drunkspin. Second, they indicate you still haven't figured out that my use of personal experience as a touchstone for my rulings isn't just because I'm a narcissist who thinks anyone gives a shit which beers I like (plus I'm too lazy to do any real research). I mean, that's all true, but there's a kernel of worth tucked into all the self-importance: I'm telling you what I think about a given beer or cat because what the fuck else am I qualified to tell you?
Which brings me to the third problem with these blanket dismissals of my just, true, and correct opinions: It's one of the most glaring ways we use the internet to connect with each for the sole purpose of antagonism. Nothing gives anyone's online boner more blood that denouncing someone else's opinion. This is why I just talk about my own opinions on things—because it's the most civil way I can think of to avoid haranguing the rest of you for your opinions, which are often incorrect insofar as they are often not my own.
Today, though, I must violate that personal policy of trying not to tell you what to think. Because it must here be noted that if you are a craft-beer drinker who does not like Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, you are an insufferable bore. The only possible reason for a passionate beer-drinker to disdain great, old SNPA is because you think you've outgrown it. Again, I know plenty of regular dudes who don't care for it, because they generally avoid craft beer. My buddy Martin drinks almost exclusively Budweiser, because after his favorite good beer—Tremont Ale—went under a decade or so ago, he just said, "Fuck it," and went back to Bud. That is entirely rational and reasonable, and therefore he gets a pass for not much caring for Sierra Nevada.
But anyone who drinks modern American craft beer yet denies him- or herself the pleasure of what may still be the best large-scale pale ale brewed in this country is either a poseur or, more charitably, someone with a burnt-out palate and an over-reliance on novelty. There are all sorts of valid reasons to dislike other iconic craft beers: Maybe you avoid Sam Adams because you just don't care for Vienna lager, maybe you find Bell's Two-Hearted or any of the other classic IPAs to be a bit too hoppy, maybe you don't have access to Pliny the Elder, maybe you refuse to pay $20 for Allagash Curieux.
But Sierra Nevada Pale Ale is still perfect. At 5.6 percent alcohol-by-volume, it's got enough bite for the session-phobic, but not so much as to be intimidating. The Magnum, Perle, and Cascade hops are persistent enough to show all the citrus and pine character that have come to define the style, but not so strong as to turn off anyone who claims to love craft beer but just not IPAs—these people exist, and they are reasonable, but I've yet to meet a passionate fan of craft beer who just can't stomach anything over 30 International Bittering Units. (This is not a stat I love, but, since we're here, Sierra Nevada Pale Ale comes in at 38; the big, bombastic double IPAs are always double and often triple that).
I don't like to tell you handsome devils what to think, drink, or order with your eggs. But if you consider yourself a devotee of good beer and you don't have time for SNPA, then it's time for you to shift over to wine or whiskey, or just throw in the towel and go back to Bud. There's no shame in either of those approaches, but I can't abide any serious beer person claiming to be too cool for Sierra Nevada Pale Ale.
This is Drunkspin Daily, the Concourse's adequate source for booze news, reviews, and bullshit. We'll be highlighting a beer a day in this space; please leave suggestions below.
Will Gordon loves life and tolerates dissent. He lives in Cambridge, Mass., and some of his closest friends have met Certified Cicerones. Find him on Twitter @WillGordonAgain. Image by Jim Cooke.
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