I now know why I’m a beer junkie. That is, I finally understand what it is about my psychological makeup that requires me to scour shelves and circle bars and check Twitter incessantly, in search of the next new and unique beer hit (like this Coconut Porter from Maui I tried recently, see right).
To some people, my behaviour may sound crazy but there are other craft beer geeks who will be nodding their heads. Why do craft beer geeks have this compulsive need to try new beers and experience new and different flavours while others are content to sip on VBs for the rest of their (godforsaken) lives?
I believe such beer geekery is driven by a personality trait labelled by psychologists as Openness to Experience. Psychologists created a Five Factor Model as a way of understanding human personalities, and one of these factors, Openness to Experience, has some tendencies that may sound familiar to beer geeks.
These tendencies are:
1. The tendency toward a vivid imagination and fantasy life.
The spirit of creation and imagination is a key driver for the craft beer movement. The likes of Moon Dog, Red Duck and Bridge Road, are brewers that don’t merely reproduce classic styles, but push the envelope and redefine what beer is with their creativity.
2. The tendency to appreciate art, music, and poetry.
Do you have the tendency to stare in awe at golden and amber liquids? To marvel at the perfect head? Me too.
3. Being receptive to inner emotional states and valuing emotional experience.
Are craft beer drinkers basically the SNAGS of the beer scene? I’m not sure, but drinking such sublime beers as Bridge Road’s India Saison has been known to bring out my emotional side.
4. The inclination to try new activities, visit new places, and try new foods.
…and try new beers. This one is fairly self-explanatory.
5. The tendency to be intellectually curious and open to new ideas.
6. The readiness to re-examine traditional social, religious, and political values.
The anti-establishment ethos of brewers like Brewdog and Dogfish Head taps into this tendency amongst craft beer drinkers. The craft beer movement challenges what is accepted in the mainstream in regards to beer, why wouldn’t it’s drinkers also challenge other values in society?
It’s worth noting that the microbrewery movement in the US emanated from areas typically known as being ‘alternative’ like Portland, Denver and California. Perhaps this is why an alignment between microbrewers and the Greens to remove the dastardly excess tax wasn’t so unlikely after all.
Are you Open to Experience too?
I’d venture to say that Openness to Experience would be a common trait amongst serious and adventurous beer drinkers out there, and on the opposite end, that those who are happy to drink VBs throughout their (miserable) existence would rank fairly low in this measure.
How high do you rate in Openness to Experience? Take a personality test and find out for yourself.