THIS IS SHAPING UP TO BE QUITE THE WEEK FOR BEER. Watching this Sunday night’s Super Bowl — and especially the ads — it will be easy to be reminded of the hold giant brands like Bud, Miller, and Coors have on our collective consciousness. At the other end of the sudsy spectrum, later in the week hundreds of craft beer drinkers will gather at the South End Cyclorama for BeerAdvocate’s Extreme Beer Fest. Hosted by the popular beer-rating website (for which I write a column), the event will feature the likes of The Funky Buddha’s Last Snow, a coffee porter made with coconut, white chocolate, and caramel. Take it from me, this will not be a Miller Time crowd.
Craft beer geeks are an increasingly vocal group these days, and perhaps that’s because of their status as underdogs. The entire craft beer industry — including local “giants” Samuel Adams and Harpoon — makes up only about 9 percent of the US beer market. No wonder fans of the brews feel so marginalized. Forums like the BeerAdvocate site, beer bars, and stores such as Craft Beer Cellar in Belmont offer a sense of community for a niche group, but the devotion can be taken too far. In being vocal about not being among The 91 Percent — in refusing to drink anything at the party other than the obscure six-packs they bring — beer geeks risk being labeled snobs.