Beer is a luxury commodity, an enjoyable way to dispose of my disposable income. It's fun, it's frivolous, it's entertaining, it's a social nucleation point. But it doesn't matter. If it wasn't beer it'd be something else. Indeed for most people it is something else.
From here the Nut goes on a pretty extensive rant about how people who line up for special releases are kidding themselves, that the breweries who put out special releases are scamming the rubes, and how the whole affair smacks of elitism we proles despise among the effete oenophiles. Thereafter, Alan and Stephen and Pivni Filosof behave like bad guests and dispatch the argument in short order.
We would have to take this to a tiresome level of etymological analysis to resolve matters (pun intended), but I'll just add the only kind of comment a late arrival can--an obvious one. Beer provides a small but significant group with a respectably textured form of diversion--less than the one engaged in by monastic priests, but more than that of fans of American Idol. If it didn't matter, why would we still be debating the point?
Which reminds me--on Tuesday I get to taste that prickly-pear braggot the Widmers are just about to release. Limited quantities, so be sure to race out and get your bottle soon!