Douglas Smiley from Baltimore Bistro and Beer poses a fairly straightforward question for this month’s Session. “Why do you drink?”
There are plenty of people out there who wish that alcohol consumption ceased to take place and would be happy for prohibition to rear its ugly head once again. Others, while not looking to ban alcohol altogether, are quick to judge those of us who drink more than what they would consider a proper amount. As I get older, I’ve lost the urge to defend my life decisions, but there was a time when judgment about the liquids I chose to put in my mouth made me feel self-conscious.
And that’s where my idea for this month’s Session topic came from. It’s easy to find article after article on the internet telling us that alcohol is bad. As beer bloggers it’s safe to say we all disagree. Let’s take the opportunity as a group to tell people why we do drink and how it improves our life for the better. I know the default answer a lot of us fall back on is “it’s nice to sit back with a good beer after a stressful day of work”, and while that’s true, I’m looking for answers that aren’t so obvious to people who aren’t fans of our hobby. Beer is bigger than a liquid “chill pill” or we wouldn’t have gone about setting up a blog and dedicating so much of our time discussing it. So, what is it that compels you to drink and what would your life be missing if beer was no longer an option for you?
Why do I drink? The funny thing is, you would think this question would be easy to answer. I have enjoyed the fun of alcohol for a decent number of years now. But at the same time I did pay a price for my enjoyment just the same.
This has never been something I have talked about around these parts but I have never kept it a secret. The night of my 23rd birthday I gave up drinking. It was a dark moment. When you go out to drink on a fairly regular basis but don’t stop till you are puking that might be a problem.
To go back a little further, I started drinking at the age of 17 when I joined the Marines. Beer and booze were never a hard commodity to come across. I drank all around the world before I was 21. You can learn how to drink, but times like that don’t teach you much else.
This followed me to my 23rd birthday. I can still remember the night. The details aren’t as important as the decision I made. I never touched another drop of alcohol again till I turned 31. The thing is the world was changing, still is. About 11 years ago in Michigan the idea of different beers didn’t exist.
We knew Miller, Coors, and Bud. Sure Larry Bell was doing his thing but that wasn’t the Bell’s Brewery we know now. It was striving and reaching but still almost unheard of.
I tried a few different things. A friend loved Guiness at the time, didn’t do a thing for me. But at some point I got my hands on a Dirty Bastard from Founders. My world changed with that one beer.
Sure I had beers that I still remember to this day before that one. But few and far between and nothing that was so life changing. With Dirty Bastard I found out that beer could have flavor, beer brewed in the US. It changed how I viewed the world.
The biggest change, I learned that you could enjoy a beer as something more than just a vehicle for alcohol. The buzz became secondary. I branched out to other beers exploring the new world of flavor.
The exciting thing for me in all of this has been the growth of artisan brewing in Michigan. This new growth has happened along with my desire to learn more about the different flavors. Learning to brew my own and learn the process helped even more to explore the beers and the different flavors achieved through just a few ingredients.
I guess why I drink beer boils down to something simple really. I like the flavor, I like the world of tastes that can be found within these four simple ingredients. Of course as I have explored brewing and beer culture the history I have learned along the way has expanded even more of what I find important about the world we know as beer.
Time for a pint…