Okay, first for my Foreignese readers, we'll get the dusty old joke out of the way:
Q: "Why is American beer like making love in a canoe?"
A: "Because it's f___ing close to water."
Har-de-har-har. It must suck to realize that the IPAs coming out of Cali totally pwn anything brewed on the Auld Sod... ;)
Anyhow, to continue the discussion going on over at PDB's place, on to my alleged beer snobbery, and hopefully on the way incidentally dispelling some beer myths:
1) I hate American beers.
Actually, every beer I really like is an American beer. The hoppy IPA may have been born in England, but it got its Green Card over a decade ago, and hasn't lived there since.
2) I think Budweiser sucks.
I think Budweiser, Coors, Michelob, and various other megabrews that have cheapened up by diluting their mash with filler grains like rice taste bland. But...
3) I worship microbrewed beers.
Sierra Nevada and Flying Dog are hardly microbreweries these days, and I think that Sierra Nevada Pale Ale and Snake Dog IPA are eminently drinkable brews. Conversely, I've had plenty of supposedly fantastic microbrewed beers that were just, well... lame. For example, I know my Texian friends will recoil at the sound of this, but after my first taste of Shiner Bock, my immediate reaction was "What was all the fuss about? This tastes bland..."
4) I like dark, chewy beers you can't see through.
While I'm not averse to a good Stout on a cold winter night, I vastly, vastly, prefer Pale Ales, India Pale Ales, and their ilk. These are not particularly dark; they tend to be of a blonde-to-golden color. Snake Dog is much more transparent than, say, Killian's. I like hoppy beers. Pilseners, Lagers, Bocks, and all manner of other beers tend to leave me indifferent at best. For me, it's about the flavor, not the pedigree: I don't care if a beer was brewed in the depths of the Schwarzwald by blind monks using an original Sumerian recipe and costs $1,000,000/oz., if it doesn't rate at least in the high 40s on the IBU scale and remain fairly devoid of too much malty sweetness, I'm not interested. (The Ruination I so enjoyed the other night scores north of 100. If you don't squirt lemon into your espresso and chase it with alum, it might seem a bit bitter to you.)
What it really boils down to is this: Having grown accustomed to extremely hoppy beers is like having gotten used to habanero squeezins on your TexMex; it can leave your taste buds a little scorched. Once that happens, it can be hard to enjoy plenty of authentic Mexican food because it's just not as spicy as you've come to expect. The same has happened with me and beer: There are plenty of good beers out there that I can really no longer enjoy because I've become so accustomed to the taste of hops, but as long as there are companies making big, hoppy IPAs, I'll just have to keep muddling through as best I can. :)