The Corrections

Boak: This has a really nice malt flavour — that grainy, chewy breadiness

Nearby Bloke: Err… correction! It’s obvious this is made from only pale malt which contributes exactly zero flavour to a beer.

Boak: Well, I’m thinking of the malt flavour you might get in a good lager like–

Nearby Bloke: That’s hops! If there’s flavour in a pale beer, it’s hops. (Face reddening) PALE MALT DOESN’T ADD FLAVOUR!

Boak: (Realising she can’t win, hoping he’ll go away) Uh-huh.

Nearby Bloke: (Sensing that he’s being humoured) No, seriously, and I should know. I’m a beer expert myself.

We sometimes move in geeky circles, it can’t be denied, and we geeks occasionally struggle with some elements of human interaction. Aggressively correcting people is one of the worst habits of the hardened geek.

Nearby Bloke could have started the above conversation with: “Excuse me, I was interested in what you were saying there, because I’ve always understood that pale malt contributes little flavour to a beer….”

Even if you are one hundred per cent sure you’re right, what is to be gained from entering a conversation with a bullish cry of WRONG! and a hectoring tone? It leaves you nowhere to go but redder, shriller and weirder.

PS. Another bad habit of geeks: referring to large groups of people as ‘sheep’ or ‘idiots’.

24 thoughts on “The Corrections”

  1. Haha! You are a more patient person than I for not having punched that man. Completely agree that the beer scene, just like any interest where you can pretend knowledge as a means of bigging up your own self importance, encourages some obnoxious behaviour.

    I once made a comment that I didn’t like saisons and a barman faux threatened me as if I’d insulted his mother. Ridiculous and made me feel quite pissed off.

  2. its just patronising and a little bit sexist as well assuming that because boak is a lady she’ll not know what contributes flavours to beer…

  3. I didn’t realise correcting people aggressively, or calling everyone idiots, was a prerequisite for being a geek. In fact, across different areas of geekdom, the majority of geeks I know are quite the opposite to the man you describe. He is simply a wanker.

  4. Jon — any hobby or interest with lore, history and complexity will generate the same kind of conversation. Somewhere, an action figure geek is correcting someone re: the articulated joints of a 1979 Star Wars figure.

    Grace — Boak will be delighted to be described as patient. She is not patient.

    Steve — yes, we suspect that’s a contributing factor, and it’s all the more amusing because Boak is the head brewer in this household. On brewday, I just carry stuff and follow her instructions.

    1. I get the geek thing – I’m a guitar nerd myself. But it’s the sheer aggression that beer (and music) seems to inspire that annoys me (and it’s not just people who’ve had too many) coupled with the inability to comprehend the difference between opinion and fact.

  5. Mark — sorry, had to rescue your comment from the spam queue again. (Our spam filter really doesn’t like you.)

    We’re not saying it’s a pre-requisite or that this applies to all geeks, and perhaps we should have put a few more qualifiers in the post, but we base the above comments on (a) being geeks who’ve struggled to overcome the burning desire to correct people ourselves and (b) hanging out with geeks of all varieties. Some of them, though we love ’em, can momentarily turn into wankers when you GET BOND WRONG!

  6. I’m probably not geeky enough to pass the spam filter 😉

    I couldn’t help but bite, there’s 99% of geeks who sit quietly geeking away, and 1% who like to loudly share their (sometimes right, sometimes wrong) knowledge with the world below them. Maybe it’s Pareto actually – 80% of the shouting from 20% of the geeks.

  7. Self proclaimed experts wind me right up. This guy sounds like a class-A toss pot. By the way, I call lots of people idiots, does that make me a geek?

  8. Great post, I can relate to this situation quite well! I’m not sure whether it’s a case of sexism, both Adam and I have been on the wrong end of conversations like this about our own beers.
    Personally I don’t find it the geeks that get so over zealous like this (although I am sure that there are some about), but a different part of the beer drinking community. I’ll leave it to your own judgement as to what category they fell into. 😉

  9. It seems to me that what we have here is not a geek, but an ignorant blowhard, i.e. the opposite of a geek.

  10. Geekdom does go the other way too. I sat in Brewdog Camden and one of the guys from the Cask bar sat opposite. We ended up trying several of each others beers, which is the nice end of geeky. The shouting down of other people is often born of a fear of being found out, of having a not-so-good grasp of your subject and amping up the volume rather than applying the brain.

  11. I’m with Barm here… he was clearly just an ignorant blowhard… I’ve personally found that 95% of people who get really aggressive about their personal views or “facts” they think they know are completely wrong.

    I think that it is because they are scared to be wrong and so have to bully people into agreeing with them so that they can sleep at night.

    Unfortunately I have had many similar conversations with other brewers who ram incorrect “facts” down my throat about exactly how I should brew/clean/bottle etc which fly in the face of common sense, the laws of physics etc.

  12. Yes, just a blowhard. If you were to open up another discussion I would expect you would find the same sort of analysis. A variant is the ex-pat who moans and groans that the ways of the new land is not those of the old one. Once, a newly moved neighbour in a former home town was well known for complaining about the ways his new location. A long standing resident asked whether he had liked his old home town any better after which another list of complaints was listed. The long standing resident replied “oh, then you are just a miserable bastard” and walked away.

  13. Glyn — yes, that’s the only geeky thing about you…

    Others — when you’ve built your whole identity around being the beer/cricket/movie expert, I guess it’s understandable to feel a bit threatened.

    Jon — maybe we’ll do a follow-up post on the positive side of geekiness to redress the balance.

  14. Nearby Bloke should start his own blog. It’s an incredibly useful tool in fostering humility. Once you’ve been corrected, publicly, 419 times, you no longer attempt to keep up the pretense of “expertise.”

    Worked for me!

    1. I would so love it if somebody started up a beer blog under the name of Nearby Bloke… Even better if it was that person, obviously.

  15. This is brilliant. I have so many similar conversations where I work and can’t really ever repeat them, because that’s where I work. I can repeat an episode of where an older gentleman thought all the 600 different beers we sold tasted exactly the same – tasting of CO2 and nothing else… I tried to convince him otherwise, but he was having nothing of it. Sometimes some people are too stuck in their ways and unable to budge from their own notions of what beer is, and should be. It’s disappointing I know, but there’s not much you can do to persuade some people.

  16. Ya’ know what?

    My name is Craig and I’d appreciate being called that, rather than “Nearby Bloke”. For cripes sake I’m American, at least call me “Nearby Dude,” ya’ friggin’ bunch of sheep.

    Ah, comedy!

  17. I am, indeed, delighted to be described as patient. 10 years ago when I hadn’t tamed my inner nerd I would probably have got into a shouting match which I could never have won.

  18. Ghost Drinker — we had a feeling we wouldn’t be the only ones to have had run-ins with what we now know to be ‘blowhards’.

    Craig — ha!

    Jeff — a key moment in any beer blogger’s ‘career’ is saying something very definite about IPA or porter based on a casual reading of a history of beer only to see a comment from Martyn Cornell or Ron Pattinson appear in your WordPress/Blogger dashboard…

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