30 April 2017

Do I drink too much? The Truth in May

  I sometimes wonder if I drink too much.
  Or too often.
  Or for the wrong reasons.
  I see my friends, real life and virtual, posting pictures every day or so and think to myself, "Do we have a problem?" Are we masking some level of alcoholism with our craft beer "hobby". We joke about it all the time, hell the memes are hilarious, but are they hiding a bigger truth?
I drink at least one beer every day and while my quantity of consumption is nowhere near the dozen or so I used to drink in a setting, I will have no problem downing 5 or 6 high ABV beers in a night. So my worry begins when I try to explain how it's different now. How by drinking better beer and enjoying the flavours I am not pursuing the demons of the past. But am I really or is it just a clever and not so subtle way of keeping the good feelings rolling with art and beer colliding,

  I don't post every beer I drink on social media, usually only one or two a day. I'm always a little self conscious about putting too many pictures up and annoying people with my passionate love for the Craft. I usually pick and choose which beers to post by seeing which are new releases, relevant to my day or returning favourites. I don't normally plan further ahead than my next beer and there is a sense of relief when I've made my posts for the day and can sit back and enjoy a pint without too much care into how to describe or display it to the world. I am not a professional writer or reviewer, I am a working guy who loves to write and craft beer has given me a way to connect with people I would never have thought possible. I'm always conscious of the fact that I am so lucky to be able to pursue this avenue because of my position as a child free, middle class person who has a very indulgent and forgiving wife. But the question always haunts me in the back of my mind, am I drinking too much?

  I think the answer lies not in an absolute either way. There were times when alcohol played a large part in the terrible and life altering things I did or didn't do. That is no longer true and I see that everyday when I am not stressing about how many beers I have in the fridge or how many I can squeeze into an evening before passing out. I largely consume with much more mindfulness and thought now, trying to maximize the quality more than anything else and I am pretty successful most of the time in keeping my count to one or two a night. But there are still times when that becomes 4, 5 or 6 and that is what I worry about. As an advocate of enjoying everything in moderation, I truly want people to understand that it is possible to enjoy a pint or two a day without falling into alcoholism and despair. Saying that doesn't hide the fact that I have no desire not to have a beer after work or during my day off. Can I go without drinking for an extended period of time? Most likely, but I always question why I would. What harm am I doing by enjoying myself when I can? Life is complicated and often messy, beer is simple and brings me peace and joy. I understand the disease of alcoholism is terrible and the grip it holds on people is all too real. Do I feel that hold on myself when I wake up or am at work? No, but there are still times I crave a drink and the easy, liquid confidence it brings me. So I am left to wonder, do I drink beer to share it with the world or do I share a few beers with the world so I can feel good about the rest of the ones I consume. This is what plagues me late at night and many a morning.

  So with all that being said, how do I address this issue for myself. Writing about whatever is in my head usually helps to bring me some relief and this one has been percolating there for quite some time. What dawned on me is that I have become too planned out when it comes to posting my beers and reviews. Saving some for the next day or spacing them to make it seem like I'm not drinking too much was not why I started doing it and I think it's time to see just what and how much I drink in a typical month.

  So, for the entire month of May, I will post every beer I drink, when I drink it. Using the hashtag #truthinmay and numbering each one, no pint, bottle or can will slip from the public eye and the challenge I set forth. For the purposes of not being a huge pain, flights will count as one beer, gotta make sense here, no need for 75 pictures of tiny sample glasses. But no saving that picture or review until the next day, no ignoring a beer because it's my second straight one out of a six pack or hiding behind any reason for not exposing what really goes in my glass every single day. Why bother? I don't know, but when this idea came to me one night, it burrowed deep into my brain and wouldn't leave until I brought it into the light. I will give you, my beer loving friends, a glimpse into what I really drink, when I drink it and why. I will try to expose the deeper meaning behind my pursuit of the perfect beer and how I use that to enjoy my life. Will there be days when I want to ignore my pledge because it will show that I am drinking too much? I imagine so, but if you have been with me for any length of time, you'll know that I am honest about my life and pledge to not keep one single beer away from the public eye. My hope is that I will be able to see that I am right about my consuming less beer and being more present when I do it. I think that in the next 31 days I will consume around 100 beers, some different and new and a few regulars because that is what I do now. Or perhaps I will discover that I do drink too much, turning to the age old relief of that haze to get rid of the pressures of the day. In either case, I want to challenge myself to expose what many of us may be hiding by talking only of enjoying craft beer and not the possibility that we are using that to shade our dependence on alcohol. We don't talk much about it and maybe it's time we did.
  Come along and see what happens when I pull back the cover and show you the inside of my mind. I hope to post not only reviews of beers, but perhaps the feeling behind why I wanted that second Imperial IPA on a Wednesday night. It's as much an exercise in exploring beer as it is in being honest with myself about my life. Perhaps at the end of the month I will have an insight into the next challenge I want to take on and then I can share that with you. Or maybe it will just be 31 days of great and not so great beer, sprinkled with some festivals, nights out and holidays. Either way, it will be the most honest thing I can do to share part of my life with you, my friends. Tomorrow morning will prove to be a most interesting start to a month in a long time.

Raise your glass and your standards,
One beer at a time.



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