This all happened because I had been talking to Robert about the Old Ale**, and he introduced me to her as a beer maker. Her first question was, "Oh? Who are you with?" assuming that I was a rep from a local craft brewer. When I told her I strictly did home brew, she then asked if I ever went to any of the local beer festivals.
Now, given that there are BA flyers all over the store at this point and having some understanding that BA folks seem to have an issue with Josh and/or BeerSummit, I took a moment to reflect before answering. Factoring into my thoughts was the exchange I had with FK's beer buyer who started that evening talking about how the folks at BeerSummit have little interest in educating people about beer and then was utterly wrong about the composition of Belgian ales later in the tasting. I figured I'd risk it.
"I've volunteered with BeerSummit for every festival since Oktoberfest, 2002."
This is when she hissed.
When she hissed is when I rolled my eyes and explained that I don't know the full story of the animosity that exists between the two groups, and frankly, I just don't care. At this point it seems mostly one-sided***, and since both groups have run successful events back to back for two years straight, it's starting to feel just a little silly. What I don't like is getting hissed at or being told that the work I've been doing doesn't qualify as "educating people about beer." The attitude I've gotten from BA folks has been sufficient to keep me away from their site and their events.
Finding the little pocket of beer politics at the Happiest Place on Earth has been difficult in a way that's not dissimilar to Darrell's dropping the "Everyone's an artist" line. I'm not an expert in either beer or cheese. I enjoy them, and would like to be able to without feeling like I need to prove that I'm worthy or to justify other things I've done. I'm aware that sharing interests doesn't necessarily make people fast friends, but all of this feels artificial. And while I don't expect a chorus of voices welcoming me and telling me I belong (which feels way too much like the story of the sirens), it would be nice if I could do something without having to knock hands out of my face.
*She also happens to have a job at Formaggio Kitchen. On Sunday, she ran a beer and chocolate tasting.
**Robert really liked the beer, as did his boss. The beer knurds at the competition seem to have thought significantly less of it, however, awarding not one but two of the top slots to one of their own. I'm of the opinion that once you have equipment to make 20-40 gallon all-grain batches, you're no longer really a homebrewer. Probably just me, though.
***From their "about us" section: Co-organizers and Brew Board Co-founders of the 2001 & 2002 Boston Beer Summit - BS sucks now.