No one has ever accused Anthony Bourdain of keeping his opinions to himself – at least no one who pays attention to Anthony Bourdain. And when you’re as outspoken as he is, you’re bound to ruffle some feathers… or occasionally put people directly in your crosshairs – like the celebrity chef recently did going after craft beer lovers everywhere.
In an interview published last week by Thrillist, interviewer John Sellers brought up how Bourdain sometimes gets “flamed online from beer snobs” – a topic that clearly touched a nerve. It happens “a lot,” Bourdain replied. “I would say that the angriest critiques I get from people about shows are when I’m drinking whatever convenient cold beer is available in a particular place, and not drinking the best beer out there. You know, I haven’t made the effort to walk down the street 10 blocks to the microbrewery where they’re making some fucking Mumford and Sons IPA.” Whoa. Let’s leave Mumford and Sons out of it. The fact that they suck has nothing to do with craft beer. That’s conflation at its worst.
“I like cold beer,” Bourdain continued after his Mumford and Sons outburst. “And I like to have a good time. I don’t like to talk about beer, honestly. I don’t like to talk about wine. I like to drink beer. If you bring me a really good one, a good craft beer, I will enjoy it, and say so. But I’m not gonna analyze it.”
Alright, fair enough. Clearly you can enjoy something and not elevate it to a hobby or even professional-level obsession. And trying to simply relax and enjoy a beer, any beer, is the last thing anyone wants to or should get criticized for. But instead of leaving the topic alone, Bourdain dug himself a much bigger hole by immediately launching into this anecdote:
I was in San Francisco, and I was desperate for beer, and I walked into this place. I thought it was an old bar. And I sat down, and I looked up, and I noticed there was a wide selection of beers I’d never heard of. Which is fine. OK, I’m in some sort of brew pub. What’s good? But I looked around: the entire place was filled with people sitting there with five small glasses in front of them, filled with different beers, taking notes. This is not a bar. This is fucking Invasion of the Body Snatchers. This is wrong. This is not what a bar is about. A bar is to go to get a little bit buzzed, and pleasantly derange the senses, and have a good time, and interact with other people, or make bad decisions, or feel bad about your life. It’s not to sit there fucking analyzing beer. It’s antithetical.
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I have a lot of respect for Bourdain, and I was on board with his previous points, but this is where he crosses a line. Just because something isn’t your hobby doesn’t mean it’s not someone’s. Saying you don’t like getting too deep into beer is one thing, but bashing other people for doing it isn’t just unwarranted, it’s hypocritical. As plenty of people on Twitter pointed out, you could make a similar argument about restaurants. Why analyze food when its primary point is substance? Why not just eat to survive and get on with it?!
But the other reality the chef doesn’t acknowledge in his description of bars as places to get loose, is that there are different kinds of fucking bars! Accidentally walking into a craft beer bar and getting irritated is like walking into a fine dining establishment and then yelling at the manager because he won’t sell you a hot dog to go. Don’t get mad at beer lovers because you didn’t check the Google reviews before you walked in.
I certainly won’t vouch for the online bullies with too much time on their hands coming after Bourdain’s beer choices, all of us reasonable craft beer lovers will await his apology. If you want to find us, just go to any Mumford and Sons-sh—I mean, craft beer bar.
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