26 April 2021

Through the Glass

 


I was only gonna have one beer tonight, still a little worn out from the whole weekend thing getting my vax on and all that jazz. Feelin' good, just a little tired but I'm also feelin' that anger at what's going on around us and am trying to distract myself with a little beer and writing before calling it a night. 

  When I saw this one from Badlands Brewing lurking in the fridge, it seemed a necessary part of the day. Through the Glass is a solid damn IPA that rolls in at 6.5%, and brings notes of peach, mango and orange in copious amounts. Softly bitter and smooth AF, it's a beauty. That name got me though, that grabbed my eye and mind and didn't let go. I mean, we are way past the looking glass portion of this trip down the rabbit hole and with a long road ahead, some folks are cracking at the seams. I'm not talking but those Covidiots who March against masks or think it's some kind of conspiracy, they've got so many problems, I don't think anything helps them see the truth. I'm talking about you and me, the ones who've done as asked, hell, who've done more and listened to the science and the doctors and continue to do it even when we can feel that breaking us in many ways. We want to protect the ones we love and we want to come out the other side of this, not normal again, but maybe ready to embrace a new and better world where we try and address the inequalities we've seen magnified in the last 14 months.

  I don't know where I'm going with this, but I just wanted you to know you're not alone, you're gonna make it and we are gonna fill those taprooms and patios again someday. Stay safe, stay sane and take care of yourself too. Mental health is important and I know you're feeling that weight. Lean on someone you love, don't keep it all inside, people love you. Polk loves you.

Stay strong.

Polk

25 April 2021

Beer in hand...

 


There's a time and a place for a beer.

And it's right now and in my hand.


I hope you have a good week ahead, I truly do. I know it isn't always easy, hell I go down a dark path myself every so often because it's often easier to feed that beast than embrace the little happiness we find in each day.

 It has been a hell of a year+, to be honest the last 9 years have been an incredible climb up and out of a place I found myself in. Working on my own mental health isn't a final endgame, it is a continual process of stumbling, falling and getting back up again. Failure happens, darkness happens but life does indeed find a way. The ability to write about whatever is on my mind because I drink a beer has become a great part of my own process and I enjoy stepping away from it when I'm done and leaving it to  sit and ferment while I ponder the next step. I look back and see things I know came from anger and then find ones of pure love. It's all part of the daily grind of being a human, we keep trying to be better each time we get out of bed. Be good to the folks around you when you can, be kind to yourself always and may your two beer buzz be the feeling you keep with you when you need it most. Stay safe out there and let's get to the other side of this with a little panache.

Polk

23 April 2021

Livin' that Pilsner life..

 


Livin' that Pilsner life.

We look around us and wonder if anyone is paying attention...

I have been following the rules of lockdown for more than 14 moths and I'm fuckin' tired and I know you are too...but I also know you and I will keep doing the right things even if we are fucked mentally beyond comprehension because we care about the folks around us that we love..beer me.

You know, after more than 6 years of daily beer talk on this app, you'd think I'd understand when to post or perhaps what fleet or video would generate the algorithm love but I don't because I'm a hobo drinking and posting when he does. 

One thing I have learned is that I see the folks trying to game the system and I appreciate the hustle, but I kind of question the sanity...the beer gods see a lot, they bless less because they're fucking drunk...smile kids, the other side is a frown and a macro lager and I know we wouldn't want a beer that is the same every time and everywhere...but do we? The one thing the craft beer folks could learn is that kind of world we need is one that is inclusive and way more open minded than you thought it would be...am I doing this right? Fuck it, Polk out...

22 April 2021

On Fuck.



S'up Fuckers.

Got beer.

Neither are questions, despite the syntax or lack thereof. While the first statement can be a question, it is most used as a greeting or introduction of sorts, meant for everyone and offensive only if you feel that the word fuck is not part of normal conversations you have everyday. It is in mine, I'd use it more often but I do work in an open kitchen that is customer facing, so the normies of the world must be kept safe from the foul language that we use to express love, hate and everything in between.

 It's just a word man.

 I used to listen to George Carlin a lot, still do but I used to too, the man understood language and I think spending most of my formative years secretly listening to him shred the thought police about words and so much more has given me the power to understand it better. Fuck is a good word. It does the heavy lifting for a lot of things in our lives, happy or sad. I like to use it because it feels like it's part of me and helps illustrate who I am better than other, tamer words. They lack the necessary punch where Fuck never does.

As for Got Beer, well let's just say it's not a question I ask but rather something I like the world to know...every fuckin' day.

Cheers and salutations from your pal with nothing better to do but drink beer and write random things,

Polk. 

21 April 2021

Wednesday Polk

 


They've always told me I need to believe in something...I do believe I'll have another damn beer.

Nickel Brook Brewing Headstock IPA pours tonight. The best there is, was and will be. West Coast, writ Ontario, legendary and somehow everywhere...

Life is real and on the edge right now, I'm feeling that tonight, leaning into an old favourite because I seek comfort in the storm. Around me rages a pandemic, into its midst I head every workday, perhaps double masked but is that enough against the absolute unknown? We ponder mortality in a daily basis out here where I live, wondering if today is the day it all goes fuckin' sideways. We don't know, and while some folks may be quick to judge our 4th pint on a Wednesday night, they are absolutely not getting down and dirty and up close and personal with other humans tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow...Be kind and better to your fellow humans, we are just trying to get by and make it through another day. The tears shed in private, the sheer desperation and prayers to inconvenient gods to keep us safe mean little.in a world filled with algorithm posts at 9:35 a.m. because the Insta-computrom said to do it.

Everytime they say "I'm not an influencer" their influencer rank goes.up 12 points...keep it real, or don't...because at the end of the day, it's just fuckin' beer and we are all trying to keep that two beer buzz going.

  I've been there, I was there at the beginning I'm here now and I'll be there at the end...I'm still just a drunk, but with staying power.

Cheers! 5/5

Polk

15 April 2021

Polk on Polk

 


There is no madness here, only truth.

Am I sane or am I Memorex? Is this a replay, albeit with a different outcome and characters, so perhaps a reboot? Honestly, I'm exhausted, I get it, we are all just fuckin' done with this. But we cant let up, we can't stop doing the right thing, even if our leaders have abdicated common sense and science. Is this disjointed? It feels like it, but to be honest, I'm headed back to work tomorrow amidst higher case counts, rampant variants that render the conventional masks mute and a populace broken by more than a year of trying so fucking hard. I see a lot of things, I watch, it's what I've always done, looking at the world with a jaded eye and never really investing more than I have to, but right fuckin' now, we gotta get it together, we gotta take care of each other and step up to injustice, to inequality, to the system that has been checked and found wanting. I don't have the answers, I'm at best a drunk and at worst an old drunk. But I know you gotta be kind and we gotta change the way the world works because this isn't what we want our legacy to be. Am I wandering around my mind out loud? Probably, but the moments of clarity come when they may, tomorrow could find me face to face with my own mortality and the chances I can contract the virus goes up with every shift I work. Do I drink too much beer? Who's asking? Me, I'm good with me. Be better than your nature tells you to be, the goal is to make more room at the table, not build a bigger wall. I hope and wish you have a better tomorrow, I really hope you stay safe and we can see each other on the other side of this piece of human history. 

I appreciate the folks who reach out, even when I don't know what to say, I see your comments, messages and I take em to heart. We are all in the same storm, albeit in different boats and circumstances and if we can all pull in the same damn direction, we can make a fuckin' difference. If you stayed til the end, Polk loves ya and sees ya, knows ya and hopes life gets better from here on out for ya.


Polk.

1 April 2021

Polk the Truth 2021 - March : In like a lamb, out like a Lion.


 Three months into the very real numbers of what I drink and I am finding a pattern and comfort in my ability to use the data I am generating to have conversations with myself and the people I trust to help me navigate this life I lead. Honesty and openness has long been my benchmark and while I won't sugar-coat anything, I do feel like this is helping me get a better understanding and perhaps even a plan of action as I move forward. The raw and emotional response some have to what I do with my life does not go unnoticed and while I appreciate the concern so many have shown, I am doing much better in terms of mental health and self worth as the year has progressed. There is something soothing and sobering about confronting the numbers as they occur and that is part of what I had hoped to achieve. Not knowing what the next months will bring, I endeavour to continue to shine the light on myself and hope it does more than just help me understand my own motivations, that perhaps other people will look at their own consumption with a more honest eye.

Onward to looking back on the month that was March, 2021.

The month of vacation was a good one

 The entire month boils down to three real distinct parts as this month includes our annual vacation, albeit the stay-at-home version (times 2) of my beloved Polkapolooza tour of Ontario. As with last year, we did not travel the province, visiting upwards of 50 different breweries as it was not advisable to do so during the pandemic, we made a couple of close to home stops at local breweries and contented ourselves with a staycation at Casa de Polk. The early part of March found me a little more focused on getting to that vacation and I was really cutting back on the pints at night mainly due to working a whole lot. The first 11 days (we started vacay on the 12th) saw only 30 beers consumed or 2.72 per day, a serious drop and more in line with where I'd like to be as we move on in this year. Even better, 20 of those were unique check-ins and that meant that the "beer for just drinkin" beers were way down as a percentage of what I poured in my glass. A 28% drop from the first 11 days of February and a whopping 47% drop from the same time frame in January. I was much more aware of every beer I was drinking and I think it had a deep impact on whether or not I grabbed a go-to beer or not most nights.

More of this going forward

  The vacation beers were another story, but to be honest, it isn't a big deal a to me overall because I enjoyed my time off and cutting loose a little during a pandemic might be an okay salve on this wounded year that saw me celebrating my second locked down birthday at home, away from friends and family. There was no real surprise then that in the 9 days we were off and relaxing' my beer total was a little higher than normal. All in, I was at 52 total beers for the time off, although 34 were unique, a rate of 68% and that's a 20% difference from the ratio the rest of the month. We picked up or had delivered a whole lot of different breweries, so there were many options and I took advantage of that to enjoy them all. A daily average of 5.77 is about 43% higher than my normal average for the rest of the days in March and 24% higher than the overall average for the year. I had a good time, we enjoyed some fine beers at home and then went back to work with an eye to continue what we had begun earlier in the month.

It's good to relax on vacation

  The last eleven days of March were a little more the first 11. A sandwich of moderate consumption surrounding a 9 day stretch of a little more indulgence skewed the progress made this month and I feel like the stretch after vacation reflects that I am still a work in progress. Despite increased stress at work and the world feeling a little more pandemically challenged around me, the numbers came in with a drop of 26% from the holiday stretch with 47 beers for an average of 4.27 per day. Looking to bring that down below three as we move into April and better weather will be the next challenge but as we ended the month down 5% from January and even with February, I am encouraged by my progress using this approach to really dig deep into the why's of my not so subtle beer drinking.

The last third of the month was a little bit of a struggle

 The biggest challenge remains those evenings where there is no work the next day, primarily Saturdays and Wednesday, where I had 43% of all my beers. I wasn't really intending to end the month with a bang, but that negative Covid test gave me a reason to celebrate and here we are with that little 7 beer party skewing things a little bit, in my humble opinion.  I am trying to find a way to enjoy writing about beer while simultaneously cutting back to just the single new beers without giving up a few nights of enjoying some old and go-to faves just because. It's a work in progress and I'd be lying if I said it would be much easier to just drink the beers and not bother documenting it all, but I want to know, I want to learn and I want to change.

Thanks again for indulging my numbers and my thought process as I navigate this year and my own relationship with myself and beer. I am working on being a better person in a lot of ways and this is just the most visible one. I encourage anyone who comes to the realization that they need help to get it and while I may make a lot of jokes about getting real hammered on Twitter, I am more than the memes I use to try and lighten the mood in a dark world.

Stay safe, see you again in May.

Polk


Now for the raw numbers, nerd Polk approved...

Beers by the day 

Sunday -  15 (3.75 per day)
Monday - 7 (1.40)
Tuesday - 18 (3.6)
Wednesday - 31 (6.20)
Thursday - 16 (4.00)
Friday - 15 (3.75)
Saturday - 27 (6.75)

Unique Beers - 73/129 (56.5%)

Beers by Brewery

Nickel Brook Brewing - 11
Collective Arts Brewing - 10
Great Lakes Brewery - 6
Gateway City Brewing - 6
People's Pint Brewing - 4
Merit Brewing - 4
Spearhead Brewing - 4

Beers

Nickel Brook Brewing Headstock IPA - 13 times
Collective Arts Good Monster DIPA - 3
Collective Arts IPA No 16 - 3
Nickel Brook Brewing What we Brew in the Shadows Hazy N.Z. IPA - 3
Merit Brewing Young Rival IPA - 3
Niagara Oast House Brewers Haymaker DIPA - 3

25 March 2021

Good Monster - On Work and Rest


 Dystopia tastes better than I thought it would.

Patio drinkin' with Collective Arts Brewing Good Monster 8.0% New England DIPA...again.

It's lovely out here, the birds are singing their end of the day songs, the sun rests into the back forty and I give myself a little reward in the middle of a 9 straight day work "week". I sometimes struggle with my inability to say no when it comes to overworking. Is it fear of losing a job? Everything I've always held onto as a working man is that you go in every day and never, ever miss a shift. I haven't had a sick day in 30 plus years of full time employment and that used to be a badge of twisted honour that I now know is more of a serious issue I need to address with myself than I thought. I routinely push myself to work more than anyone else, longer shifts, no breaks or lunch and it is wearing on me. Beer helps, but beer should be about fun, not soothing a beaten body and psyche. I don't know, I don't think I can change that much, it's so engrained in who I am to just keep going even when everything is not okay. We work so hard to get where we are and even now I can't stop and enjoy it because of the fear it may all go away if I slow down for a moment. Work trumps everything else in my life and has for the better part of it. I know folks here think beer is what I'm all about, but if you knew me in real life, away from the shiny pics of pints, you would know a man who slogs through his days on the edge because he is always worried he isn't working hard enough or long enough. It's a complicated thing and maybe a random beer pic on a ransom March Tuesday isn't the proper forum for working through stuff, but to be honest, the beer led me to discover a whole lot about myself I never knew, opened up my mind to write about far more than what I taste and in the end has been a catalyst for some positive change. I know I need to do more away from it, I'm trying and someday I may even slow down and see how the other half lives. 

We're here for a good time, not a long time....

Polk

21 March 2021

Thoughts about beer - Sunday Morning edition

   I think about beer, a lot. More than I drink it, I ponder it, I wonder about it and I talk about it to no one in particular and everyone in general. I research hops and styles, malts and adjuncts; I read blogs, books and watch videos. I immerse myself in the brewing process and the science of beer, albeit as an outsider looking in, I have no real wish to work in beer. I'm a better drinker than I am a creator of that which I love so dear. 

  Having said all that, I have some things that I'd like to see when it comes to my beer and the places that make it.

1. Labels - Clear and concise information. Ingredients, types of hops used and any adjuncts used in addition to the usual water, malted barley and yeast. What kind of malt? What yeast strain did they use? I know not a lot of folks care about this, but I think it can help fuel the love we have for beer when we know what's going into it. Finding out how a certain hop tastes when I drink a single hopped beer is one of my favourite things and I endeavour to educate myself further when I see something new on a label as an ingredient. To me, what goes into making great beer should be part of what we can see on every label. Nickel Brook nails it every time and that's part of what keeps me coming back for every new release. I just wanna know everything. Having said that, while I personally could give a second thought to my caloric intake when it comes to beer, that seems to be a push from some regulators and beer drinkers, so we will see where that goes. 

2. Styles - Be what you say you are. Seriously, this happens more than I'd like it too. A lot of consumers pick up new beers based on what they previously liked in terms of taste and if you call your beer a New England IPA and deliver a bitter, unfinished mess, it will turn people off in a hurry. Call your beer exactly what it is and skip the marketing mumbo-jumbo. Accuracy helps people make decisions and can bring a returning and recurring customer for life if they can trust you.

3. Consistency - The one thing the big boys of beer have going for them is that their beer tastes the same no matter where it's brewed around the world. They understand that the blandness of their most inoffensive offering may not be for everyone, but that the near perfection in delivering it every time is something to behold. I get that craft beer is about experimenting and pushing the envelope of what beer can be, but it should also be about delivering a product to your customer that they can count on. One-offs aside, a seasonal or core offering should not vary from batch to batch, nor should it be okay with people who drink it. I don't buy products from certain breweries because they have shown themselves to be less than authentic and responsible about owning their mistakes and poor brewing techniques. Beer isn't any different than any other food or drink, keep it above board and on point.

4. Be part of your community - For whatever reason, perhaps the communal nature of beer drinking itself\, we expect our local breweries to be a part of the larger community around them. Whether it is participating in events, brewing beer and donating money to causes in need or being on the right side of histroy when it comes to inclusion, diversity and equality, we seek to have our beer makers be better corporate citizens than perhaps any other business. I work in the restaurant industry and my particular brand does zero in the charity or community side of things and it affects our sales in no way at all. But we demand more of our beer and for me, that's a good thing. Now, I know not all of them really get into it, but even if it's just a surface of respectability that makes them do some good, it is a start.

5. Engage with your fans - As a big consumer of social media and an open book when it comes to my life, I get that the online world can be overwhelming at times. There are a lot of negative folks out there and to be honest, I've learned to not be bothered with what other people think of me online and the mute button works wonders for my mental health. Of course, I am not a professional writer or journalist, just a wordy drunk with a laptop and a smartphone, so I can step away much easier than a PR person for a brewery can. But they do and should encourage feedback from their customers and utilize the love their fans have for their product and premises to lift up the brand in a positive way. Some breweries have outstanding social media managers who know how to engage with the public and make them feel like they are part of something special. Having your social media personality be reflective of your breweries values is something that people notice and appreciate, doing it right can be the best soft promotion of all.

  A couple of thoughts on this Sunday afternoon while I sip away the day and wonder what my next pint will be...

Cheers.

Polk



4 March 2021

Polk the Truth 2021 - February : 28 Days Later

                                           

  The year of truth in beer rolls on through the shortest month and the 28 days of February were full of lessons and insights into my beer drinking ways. Let's take a look at what the last 4 weeks taught me...

Good month, need to up that new beer ratio

  Now I don't have a format planned out for each month, more of a let's look at the data and let it tell the story, but I do like looking at the month in halves for context of what seems to change as the beers roll in. February was much like January in that the first 2 weeks were much heavier than the last 2, perhaps more of that observation changing the outcome theory that I postulated last month. It seems to play out and time will tell as March begins if it is indeed a theory worth following. 60 check-ins on UnTappd in the first fourteen days was a heavy 4.57 pints a day and that included a 4 day weekend party for one that saw 29 beers consumed in 96 hours. Maybe not the herculean totals of my 20's and 30's, but at 7+ beers a day, those 4 days drove the bus on the rise in numbers at the beginning of the month. Zoom beers and celebrating GLB's birthday on that weekend were what gave me license to let go a little and while it isn't a frequent thing anymore, it certainly gave me pause when looking at the second half of the month.

A heavy start to February...

  The whole purpose of documenting every beer that passes through my glass this year is to examine more closely when and why I drink, can I be honest with myself and by being accountable to whoever follows along, can I change a behaviour I find to be less than desirable? It feels like it is having an impact already, I find myself pausing before grabbing the 4th beer of a random day and wondering if I really want a beer or am I just doing it out of habit or boredom. I have begun to do other things instead of just mindlessly pouring another one and while I have no intention of giving up my daily pint, I do feel like the "bender" evenings or weekends should be less of a regular occurrence and more of  a black swan thing.

...a little better on the back end of the month.

  Swinging into the second half of the month, I did see a significant decrease in consumption from the first 14 days at 52 check-ins and only 3.71 pints per day. That drop amounts to an almost 20% (18.75% to be precise) reduction and reflects once again that by making every beer a known quantity, I changed my behaviour to match the vague and movable goals I set on a daily and weekly basis. While I don't have a particular number in mind for a daily average or monthly total, I am feeling like when I have fewer beers on a given day, I feel better about myself the next day. Piling one on top of another beer just to drink to pass the time has become less appealing over the last 59 days and I am encouraged by the trend I see and the attitude I am adjusting inside my own mind. 

  I know some people find this whole thing odd or that I am encouraging or enabling any sort of over drinking by myself or other people and I get what those folks are saying. I have an incredibly complicated relationship with myself and my past, my alcohol consumption and my own inability to control my impulses from time to time. I enjoy the 2 beer buzz a lot and I continue to advocate for all things in moderation, including letting myself enjoy an extra pint or three once in a while. But it also has become clear that I do slide into the 6 or 7 beer realm a little too easy some weeks, whatever the stress or trouble I am tying to escape may be, more than 76% of my total consumption happened in only half the days. So trying to transform more of those 14 heavy days into the lighter, more moderate ones is a reachable goal for the next month, a modest reduction in pouring one last pint at midnight on my evening off and then falling asleep in my chair would go a long way to helping make that happen. Whatever I do with the numbers I find, I do know that being absolutely open and honest about every beer I pour is changing something about me that I am open to exploring more as the year goes on.

 Thanks for following along and we'll do this all over again at the end of March for what should be an interesting look back at my birthday month that has a week's vacation in it and how that plays into the numbers going forward.

Polk

Now for the raw numbers, nerd Polk approved...

Beers by the day 

Sunday -  14 (3.50 per day)
Monday - 8 (2.00)
Tuesday - 8 (2.00)
Wednesday - 19 (4.75)
Thursday - 20 (5.00)
Friday - 15 (3.75)
Saturday - 32 (8.00)

Unique Beers - 60/116 (51.7%)

Beers by Brewery

Great Lakes Brewery - 12
Collective Arts Brewing - 9
Nickel Brook Brewing - 5
New Ontario Brewing - 5
Fairweather Brewing - 4
Block Three Brewing - 4

Beers

Collective Arts Good Monster DIPA - 9
Clifford Brewing Brave Captain Brown Ale - 6
Collective Arts - Frisch Pale Ale - 5
Grain & Grit Beer Co. Homebound IPA - 4
Collective Arts Brewing IPA No 16 - 4