The other day I learnt what a “boss pour” is. The Craft Beer & Brewing Magazine defines it as «A stylistically improper and aromatically challenged pour whereby the pourer fills a glass to the rim without leaving a head on the beer, in vain hopes of impressing friends on social media.» Having an Instagram account, I immediately knew what it was referring to and it gave a term to what has irritated me for a while. But let’s first take two steps back.
Step 1: The more you know
Look in your favorite beer book and you will see a section on glassware. In the tasting section of the same book, you can read about the importance of aroma and how it is aroma and not flavor that will be mainly responsible for your sensory experience. Both of these were repeatedly discussed in the beer sommelier class we did at Doemens, to the extent, that we sniff every beer before we drink it and we have had lengthy discussions which glasses to use for our Wortspiele beer-festivals. The way a glass changes the aroma, flavor and mouth sensation is actually quite incredible and we’ve done a blogpost about it here; we strongly encourage you to drink the same beer out of different glasses in order to experience it first-hand (ironically in the same issue of CB&B they also define a “glasshole”, i.e. «One who refuses to drink a beer unless it’s served in specialty-beer-glassware»).
When you look at Instagram, both the aroma and proper glassware are thrown out the window. People use the weirdest albeit stylish glasses for their photos, things that look like they held their grandmother’s compote yesterday and things that look better suited for flowers. Add to that a proper “boss pour” and you have the worst conditions for you to truly get a sense of what the beer smells and tastes like. What’s further cringe worthy: There’s also breweries that post these kind of photos. But you know what, apparently that’s less important than a dope looking photograph, because the CB&B definition mentions a use of “boss pour”: «I don’t care that 80 percent of taste is actually smell because that boss pour got me 40 likes on Instagram».
Step 2: Pics or it didn’t happen
Some years ago, we travelled to Machu Picchu. It is a magical place, the buildings, the landscape, the atmosphere, the sun, the jungle, everything. After doing a guided tour and walking around a bit, something struck me: Many people only seemed to be there for the Facebook-photo. There was a girl in our group that did a selfie every 7 to 10 seconds. For one and a half hours. She didn’t listen to what the guide had to say, she didn’t look at what she was taking a photo in front of. Didn’t matter she wasn’t consciously there, as she spent her stay glued to the camera-screen. But damn did she have plenty of pictures to post of Facebook, because, pics or it didn’t happen, right?
We all brag about how many Ratebeer reviews we wrote, how many whalez we got to drink, how many untapped check-ins we have or how we consider beers under 7 percent to be sessionable. It’s a friendly game of competition and that’s somewhere between fine and fun. But while in the past, the sensory experience has attracted people to beer, are there new reasons now? Is the scavenger hunt and bragging about the haul as important to people as is the experience of drinking the beer? Is the likes on Instagram for a certain whale so important, that you’re (consciously or out of ignorance) ready to sacrifice the best drinking conditions and thus the best possible experience of drinking that beer?
What’s the moral of the story: When beer is not about actually drinking it, then we’re going in the wrong direction. A blogpost like this won’t change that however. But what will have an influence, if you unfollow the worst culprits and stop liking their post as a “punishment for negative behavior”. Being positive people, another strategy would be to like those that don’t boss pour and leave a positive comment. If likes is what they seek, then show them a different way to get them.