Calling Anthony Bourdain a snob is like calling Hillary Clinton a career politician: While you might mean it as an insult, really it’s just a statement of fact. That’s their thing. It’s what they do. But while he may scoff at a subpar California roll stuffed with imitation crab meat, Bourdain has always been populist about his beer. As fans of any of Bourdain’s globe-trotting travel shows can attest, whether he’s in Macau or Mississippi, Bourdain will pop open a can of any old local swill, as long as it’s cold and gets you drunk. (The man must have an iron stomach.)
Bourdain turned this easygoing attitude into fighting words in a recent interview with Thrillist, where he dismissed critics who have chided him for not making an effort to explore the craft beer scenes in places he visits. “The angriest critiques I get from people about shows are when I’m drinking whatever convenient cold beer is available in a particular place,” Bourdain says. “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. People get all bent about it. But look, I like cold beer. And I like to have a good time.”
He further makes the point with an anecdote about—where else?—San Francisco, where he went to a bar only to confront, to his horror, a bunch of guys sipping beer flights and taking notes. “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,” he says.
Aside from the solid Mumford and Sons dis, Bourdain seems to be making the point that he thinks craft-beer aficionados are missing the point by turning beer into a competitive game of rare bottles and IBU one-upmanship rather than a means of relaxing and getting drunk with your friends. And if taking notes about beer is how you have fun, well—enjoy paying that elevated bar tab to go with your elevated farmhouse saison, nerds.