We drink beer to enhance our joy or reduce our pain.
We drink beer to celebrate our accomplishments or to drown our sorrows.
We drink beer and we know things.
We drink beer.
Life as a beer drinker changes when you discover craft beer. Whether you submerge yourself into the community or just drink and enjoy the different styles and iterations contained therein, you change. Some still drink to excess and some don't. Some write and celebrate with pictures and videos their finds and some don't. Some think the whole thing is puffery and still others are evangelical in their pursuit of the next great beer.
I've been on both sides of these equations in my 30 plus years as a consumer of beer and while it is my distinct pleasure every day to open a beer and talk about it, I wonder what it all means as the industry itself morphs and changes with it's growing size and spread. Every new account online and every new convert to craft beer helps grow and enhance our community but what is the end game for it all? Why do we talk and talk about our beer and leave out the fact that it is still about the drink, at the end of the day. It makes us feel good when we have a beer and it makes us feel even better when we have four. It is the alcohol that brings the buzz, while the flavour, texture and other subtle nuances of even the finest of our beers are but a delivery system for the ABV contained within. Do we want to drink to enjoy the beer or do we still seek the simple pleasure of what that warm feeling gives us as we pour another pint?
Would we care who makes our beer if it didn't make us feel part of something different and special? I know as I grow older, I feel less like I belong to what is happening in the world. Things change and it can feel like life passes by quicker every year, but when you enter the world of craft beer, you feel like you belong to something timeless. You enter a community trying to be different and focus on what a small, local business can deliver that a giant corporation cannot. We want to try different things in a life that maybe has too much normalcy and routine. We want to feel an escape when the work and family responsibilities take away our feelings of youth and independence. Finding a voice or a niche and surrounding yourself with other like-minded individuals can be comforting and often empowering. Being with a group that thinks like you do is a hallmark of humanity going back to the beginning and like any religion, we often overlook the darker side of what we have wrought.
We drink beer because we like how it makes us feel. Or we cannot stop ourselves despite how it makes us feel. My personal relationship with alcohol is complicated and my journey in life is much my own doing. While I was for many years an almost teetotaller, I found no comfort in not having a pint as I do in having one. Perhaps the balance I sought was delivered when craft beer entered my life or maybe I'm just getting older but I have found myself less inclined to overindulge as I used to be. But still I do find myself pouring another pint when the last one should have been just that. I still seek the release of what a few glasses of a strong slow sipper will deliver even as I think I know exactly how much I can consume to achieve that state before I slip off the edge.
Ignoring the effects of alcohol by trying to portray what we drink as being a community or art or any other thing we want to call it is to try to pull a veil down that we all see through. Would you drink beer if it didn't give you something more than the flavours you find? I know it isn't something we talk about often but this can be a real problem and one I am guilty of overlooking myself. We drink beer socially or alone, but we do it and we mostly feel good when we do, but some folks are suffering and we need to find a way to address that too.
I don't have the answers, I struggle every day with leaning out and back in on what I do to share my own life through beer and wonder if I could be doing more to lift the conversation to a higher level. I want to make the world a better place and with craft beer I always felt that was possible. I love being part of this thing we have happening, even if I don't always feel like I belong. It is a special place and time but one we must still try to be honest about, at all times and at all points.
I drink and I know things.
The time to start talking about them is now.