No, beer nerds don't come flying out of the chute bespectacled and bearded. They are honed like a fine Arrogant Bastard [Ale].
For those of you unaware of the stages of maturation of the common beer nerd, Thrillist has detailed them for you.
But, if you're wary of external links, and you should be, let me stagger you through my personal beer nerd journey:
1. First sip of beer
I recall my dad giving me a shot glass of beer (probably Pabst) when I was really young. Then, around 10 or 11, my dad asked me to get him a beer from our basement fridge. It was Bud. I cracked one open for myself, chugged part of it, and tossed the nasty rest. He knew it was missing.
2. You try something "Premium"
That first taste of Michelob, which my dad only bought for special occasions, was magical.
3. You taste your first craft beer
Choke on your Busch Lights, amateurs, I'm enjoying a smooth, refined, dignified Leinie's Red ... from a bottle, thank you very much.
4. "Mouthfeel" enters your lexicon
For a while, I mistakenly equated a beer's gravity with its mouthfeel. Oh, I was so young.
5. You become a brewery groupie
Not sure "groupie" is the right word for it, but I've been to enough breweries, brew pubs, and beer-related events to be recognized by brewery folk, so ... shit. Maybe I am a groupie?
6. Homebrew failure
I've never tried homebrewing, but I've been privy to my pals' Grapefruit IPA explosion, so there's that. It was a fair to midland IPA, prior to the explosion, by the way.
7. Your reading material is suddenly all beer-related
Who has time to read when there's so much to drink?
8. First homebrew success
Again, I lived vicariously through a pal who brewed up a fine-ish (there's always room for improvement) chocolate, pepper stout
9. Ratebeer.com becomes your home page
Nah, but I do visit quite often. Maybe it should be.
10. You establish your own beer cellar
No room or money for that, but I've had a few bombers "aging" in the back of my fridge for some time. Does that count?
11. You declare yourself a snob
I've owned up to my beer fandom and am bespectacled, but my beard growing talent is subpar, so I could never reach uber-snob status.
12. You begin making beer pilgrimages
Not for beer, per se, but breweries and brew pubs are high on my list whenever I travel.
Not sure about this one, but I think my wife has left the room when I've sung beer's praises for too long.
14. Rediscovery & peace
After several years of trying MANY beer styles, I've found that I've settled into IPA's like an old man into a hot bath. Those hop bombs are tried and true and near and dear to my heart. Gettin' thirsty.