Monday, March 17, 2014

The Session #85 Round-Up

To everyone that participated in The Session #85 I offer a big thank you. I don't know if other hosts have experienced this, but I was a bit worried my topic would be met with a lot of disinterest. But, alas, you guys showed a lot of enthusiasm for the topic and offered a lot of insightful answers. We had a few first time participants this month who I'd like to encourage to keep on chiming in in the future. The Sessions are a great way to spur creativity and meet a lot of great people. With that said let's look at the reasons people drink.

Sean Creel of BrewKeep drinks to discover. Sure, it's nice to wind down a long day with beer, but it's the artistry of beer being created and the inspiration that went into a recipe that Sean likes to lose himself in. I couldn't agree more. Discovering inspired beers with crazy flavor profiles is a great time. I'll never forget the first time I drank a Lambic and had my mind blown that beer could taste like that!

Jake Scholan a.k.a. Hipster Brewfus drinks for a myriad of reasons. He wants a beer because work and life might be beating him down on a particular day and he's just looking for a little liquid zen to keep him going. But he also enjoys revisiting a beer that sparks memories of great times in the past with friends. Beer has helped him forge relationships in states he no longer lives in and find new friends after a move to Baltimore. I can attest to the power of beer bringing people together who wouldn't have known one another otherwise. My entry for The Session features a picture of Jake and I (and a couple other cool guys) meeting for the first time a few weeks ago. If it weren't for the draw of good beer, that day probably never happens.

10th Day Publishing's Jon Jefferson has an interesting history with drinking beer. In his early days, drinking to excess was what he knew. At age 23 he realized this pattern wasn't something he wished to continue and he gave up drinking beer for the next eight years. Eventually, Founders Dirty Bastard found its way into his hands and it was that beer that helped him "learn that you could enjoy a beer as something more than just a vehicle for alcohol. The buzz became secondary." And how true is that? A buzz is nice, but having your palate pushed in a new direction is awesome. The flavor found in beer these days offers something for every palate making beer one of the most versatile drinks around. 

Das Ale Haus gave an answer that any beer enthusiast can get behind. Sure, he could tell us he drinks beer because  it's "like reading a good book, taking me out of the present and into whatever world my imagination conjures", but at the end of the day he drinks beer because he enjoys it. You won't catch me arguing with that.

Liam of Drunken Speculation reaches for a beer because he says it is a great way to speak with others who he might otherwise never have spent time with. He cites workplace meet ups known as Business Engineering Evaluation Review [read: BEER] as a prime example of beer promoting friendship and camaraderie where none may have previously existed. Cheers to that!

Something that I left out of my own reasons for drinking beer post was the desire to travel. The Beer Nut shares this interest and tries to discover different countries and nationalities through the beer that they produce. As a beer drinker, I find it quite intriguing exploring just how different beer can be depending on where it hails from. 

Tom Cizauskas of Yours for Good Fermentables likes to drink beer because when you get right down to it, beer is beer! He wraps up a very entertaining post by saying "I drink beer because I like how it tastes; I like how it makes me feel. Gustation and psychotropics. Pleasure. That, just that is why I drink beer. All else is froth." This is the kind of writing that makes me thirsty.

Byran D. Roth of This Is Why I'm Drunk takes home the "award" for being my personal favorite entry to this month's Session. His post, titled "Why I'm Afraid to Drink", bravely explores the concerns he faces with a hobby such as beer, knowing firsthand the troubles that can arise when alcohol becomes more than just a familiar acquaintance. It was the perfect counterbalance to serve as a reminder that while beer can open many doors to contentedness, there are times when it can reek havoc on lives.

Another entry reminding us not to put beer on too high of a pedestal was that of Alan McLeod, owner of A Good Beer Blog. In his words "Beer? It's a condiment. And you don't put mustard on your breakfast bowl of cereal. It doesn't make your life better anymore than sugar snap peas do. Then again...sugar snap peas are mighty fine." While I appreciate the sentiment, I believe that beer and it's moderate use go together much better than Mustard and Cereal. I think salt might have been a more appropriate comparison in that salt improves the taste of almost anything it touches, but add too much day after day and risk your blood pressure rising and your heart exploding.

Variety was the reason Tom Aguero of Queen City Drinks reaches for a beer. It doesn't matter if it's a 100 degrees outside or 0, there are beers that are suited for either occasion. And it doesn't matter what kind of palate or mood you're in, there is a beer out there to satiate your need. Smokey, roasty, fruity, tart, the flavors in beer are many and it's the abundance of choice that keeps Tom happy in beer. 

The Beer Ferret echoed similar sentiments, but it was the brewers artistry in providing so many flavors that leaves him impressed with beer time after time. As an undeniably mediocre homebrewer, I can't tell you how impressive it is seeing brewers take a few simple ingredients and turn them into something previously unimaginable. 

Reuben Gray of the magnificently named blog The Tale of Ale drinks beer but not to get drunk. Yes, he likes the way beer can lift the spirit, but it's the shared sense of community and togetherness he's looking for. I second that notion. Some of the best conversations and laughs I've had recently have been a direct result from sitting next to a stranger with a beer and sharing a good time. 

At Ramblings of a Beer Runner, Derrick Peterman finds himself running to beer for the buzz. Variety, friendship, and adventure all play a role in his fascination with beer, but it's the buzz so many of us enjoy that really attracts him. Could he make do without beer? Sure, but he'd have to change the name of his website to Ramblings of a Wine Runner and that sounds like a lot of work.

Ed at The Dogs of Beer wrote the entry that made me laugh the hardest. He doesn't really know what compels him to drink beer, but he does go on to list quite a few "beliefs" as to why beer is his drink of choice. My personal favorite reason Ed thinks beer is the drink for him? "I believe that finding out that the girl you just started dating is perfectly OK with just going out for wings and a pitcher of V-8 just does not scream "potential soul mate" enough". Ed, truer words were never spoken!

The details in and around a good beer give Sean Inman of Beer Search Party his satisfaction. "I like the tangential things like gathering at a bar or brewery. I like talking about beer issues or discussing the merits or demerits of a particular beer bust mostly, I enjoy the taste." Yep, that sounds like a beer blogger alright. If you're not having fun with the details, I can't imagine beer blogging being much fun.

Alan McCormick at Growler Fills questions the premise I set forward that beer improves our lives. He states "I'm not going to presume beer improves your life. Of course we have great fun gathering at our local breweries and swapping stories with friends over a couple of pints. It's easy to conjure up a plethora of examples of how beer is integrated into the enjoyable times of our lives. But is that the same as saying beer improves our lives?" And to answer Alan, I'd have to say it depends. If beer opened the door that allowed you to come upon enjoyable times, then yes, it was the beer that improved your life. But, admittedly, there are times where beer isn't the catalyst of our fun and it takes on more of a supporting role (if it plays any role at all). And that's something very important to note. If you are using beer as the means to improve your life, you're probably doing it wrong. There needs to be a balance and thanks to Alan for pointing that out.>

Tom Bedell has experience answering the question "why do you drink" and relays a funny story of his granddaughter grilling him about beer in the past and him turning the tables on her years later. For Tom, he drinks beer because there is so much of beer to love. He finds joy in the taste, variety, and history. And sometimes the joy of another beer is the fact that there's another beer to be had. I think that's one of the great things about beer. There are times when beer takes on bigger meaning and seems to find a connection to all sorts of things. And yet, there are times when it's just something familiar to keep you company.

Steve Pasko of Garde My Biere switched things up on us and kept his response brief with a little joke. Why does Steve drink? Because he's not an athlete or Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Champion and he wants a trophy, dammit!

Over at The Beer Site Joe Abernathy drinks beer for pleasure. But it's not the pleasure of the buzz he's after. As Joe put it "there are far more efficient liquors than beer available for that - but the same kind of pleasure one gets from, say, eating gourmet meals. Why do you eat good food, when ordinarily, unremarkable canned foods will offer you the same nourishment? You do it for the experience and the pleasure of enjoying something that elevates the senses; you do it to enhance your understanding of what beer can be." As a beer drinker, I think we all look forward to those sips of beer that make you say wow and see beer in a way you never have before. A great reason to drink beer, indeed.

Heather Vandenengel, owner and operator Beer Hobo drinks beer because it makes quite the friend. It doesn't matter what she has going on, beer is always agreeable. A post beer run, a beer to read with, a beer with friends, a beer to dissect...they're all great reasons for a beer and the beer is always happy to be there with Heather.

Oliver Gray at Literature and Libations takes us through one of those nights we've all been through with strangers, friends and acquaintances. The kind of night that starts off slow, full of meaningless banter and awkward silences, and you wondering when it will all be over. But then the beer comes out, inhibitions go down, and memories are made. As Oliver says, he's the chicken trying to see what's on the other side. 

Last but certainly not least, Boak and Bailey drink beer because they're British and it's part of the culture. Good times with friends, family, and a pint are how they get down. But what about beer invokes the urge to write about it? Well, it awakens the senses in a way that no other drink quite can. For them, beer is just plain interesting. Who can argue with that?

And that brings us to the end. If I missed  anyone's contributions, I apologize. Please shoot me an e-mail or tweet me and I'll be sure to add you in. I've spend the past half week in a cold haze so it wouldn't be a surprise to me if I've left something off. Again, thank you to every single one of you that participated. You made it a ton of fun. I enjoyed all of your answers and it was nice to be reminded that while beer is awesome it's important not to put it on too high of a pedestal.

Cheers to The Session and all its participants!