Beer people are good people. We hear this all the time.
Today I’m thankful for the conversation with these good people as part of this month’s “Session” event hosted here at This is Why I’m Drunk. I had almost 30 submissions from beer writers and bloggers from around the world as we discussed the idea of “Finding Beer Balance.”
To some, that meant finding balance in the styles of beer we drink. Others, it meant pursuing an active lifestyle or hobbies. There were also a few who prefer to throw their cares to the wind – do what you love! “…things worth doing seem worth doing to excess,” wrote Stan at the Appellation Beer blog.
So let’s dig in and see what everyone offered this month. Where applicable, I’ve linked each person’s name to their Twitter account. Check out their feeds! It’ll be an easy way to keep up good conversation with everyone.
The Health Nuts
Like me, there were plenty of people submitting this month who like to focus on their health as a means to finding balance with beer.
I run for my beer. That is how I balance beer’s most obvious requirement – health. I discovered the synergy of craft beer and running around the same time in my life, a few years ago, after a lifetime of bad health and no fitness … Yes, I do drink a lot, so I try to run and workout in proportion to my intake.
A SheppyQuest is where I have gone off backpacking all by myself. I have not done it in awhile, but the fact that I do it sometimes is probably an indication about how much I love to hike and camp.
I run regularly, an effort that combines the need for exercise with the need to keep the calories in check. Gardening, hiking and camping occupy a good chunk of time during the warmer months. And go great with beer. (What? You don’t partake in a crisp lager or spicy IPA while gardening?)
Where some may choose to balance through exercise, many writers find the most effective means to balance through putting down their glass from time-to-time.
I’ve always tried to mainly drink beer from Friday to Sunday each week. During the week I try to refrain from indulging. I also try to make it to the gym at least once or twice. In essence, beer is sort of a reward for me at the end of each week. So far this has worked for me. I’ve lost 30 pounds in the last year and four months. I hang around a slim weight of 143. I’m proud of that. The best part? I still drink beer on most weekends.
… I regularly have days when I don’t drink and sometimes I even have weeks when I don’t drink. Thankfully, when I do I have booze free days/weeks I don’t find myself needing a drink and struggling to get by without one.
Balance exemplified by perspective. Balance also exemplified by context. Beer may be asking you to think about its components, its limitations and its alternatives. If you care to think about it maybe it’s asking you to leave it alone once in a while, too. To find something else. Like tea.
Glen at Beer is Your Friend is in the same boat. His weekly goal – in a perfect world – is to string together several days without drinking in an effort to refresh his mind and body. He also pursues other interests and hopes to expand reading beyond beer books:
…when I get into something I get into it deeply. So with beer, I drink it, think about it, talk about it, write about it, read about it and even make it. So it’s important I strike a balance where beer is an interest in my life rather than my whole life.
Chris from Draft Magazine points out several of the right ways (“Beer is a singular, colorful thread woven into your greater fabric.”) and wrong ways (“You can’t manage to keep beer in the fridge.”) to approach a beer-filled life. But ultimately, he says it’s important to set your glass down to smell the proverbial roses once in a while:
Some of the best stories in beer have nothing to do with what’s inside the glass. So if you really want to let beer flow through your life with value, balance and ease, take your nose out of the pint once in a while and look around.
Jon at 10th Day Brewing made a great point about our beer-obsessed bunch, especially those who keep their cellar or pantry stocked – “when you are surrounded by something all the time you are less inclined to abuse it.” A good point! Collecting these items is an effort to find balance, especially since it shows a true passion for beer:
Maybe that is the key to balance, when it becomes a seasoning to your life instead of the main course. Instead of denying pleasure out of fear we embrace it as an important part of our lives, maybe then we will be free of the chains we tether onto ourselves.
We had several first-timers join this month’s Session, including Soaked in Beer‘s Jenn, who recently had a vacation where she visited 19 breweries and tried 96 beers (way to go, Jenn!). She also did a lot of walking, but her balance comes from cutting back post-vacation.
When we got back I knew it was time to make amends. It was time to bring back the balance. I am a big believer in balance though in all aspects in life, beer included. You need to go without sometimes to truly appreciate the good things in life.
Sean from Beer Search Party enjoys having beer “off days” and activities like heading to the movies or the beach, but he also mentioned his maturity as a drinker. As a younger man he might head to a bar and never want to stop for the sake of trying every beer possible. But now…
I will either order a taster tray or just get one pint. When I do that, I leave wanting more and not not feeling like I had overdone it. Plus, if I order a smaller amount, I can leave a barstool for the next customer sooner and get home and watch Parks and Rec.
The True Believers
Who says we need beer balance anyway? It was certainly a question I posed from the get-go. Fittingly, a number of writers opined about their love for beer and why that love should never waver.
People who do go out of their way to find some kind of balance in life, they’re the alcoholics. The ones who feel that if they don’t drink for two days of week they have to find something to replace the beer with which is just replacing one addiction for another whereas me? Well if I have a night off drinking, I do exactly the same shit as I’d do if I wasn’t drinking.
Food, drink, zydeco, smoked meat, the theater, the theatre, high school basketball (in a previous life), things worth doing seem worth doing to excess … I’m not sure this is going to end well.
As co-owner of her own beer store, 99 Pours‘ Tiffany wrote about her attempts to get active and find balance through exercise – something many of us can relate to. However, she also has a commitment to her hobby, business and the craft of beer, which means tasting early and often:
It’s called Research & Development. If you’re a pimp in a beer store you’ve got to know your product.
Tom Bedell taught me something new during this month’s Session – Henri Matisse claimed the best remedy for insomnia was beer and chips. That sounds OK by me. Tom has seen his life come full circle. Once a beer writer, he found himself spending much of his time covering golf and now here he is, drawn back to the beverage he loves so much. It’s hard to stay, after all, because:
Life without beer? It would be a life out of balance.
Not to be left out (although I did in my initial post of this round up), The Beer Nut highlights the natural selection of finding balance in beer. How can we, the beer loving public, not find balance in our typical drinking habits when there are so many ways (and beers) to do it?
The golden rule is a simple one: drink all the beer. You might need to put in that extra mile to get some variety in your diet, but for me it’s always worth doing. Balance in variation is why I’m still tasting, learning and enjoying beer and have no plans to become settled in my tastes.
Balance not only affects how much and how often I drink, but it also comes into play when I’m deciding what I want to drink. I like IPA’s, DIPA’s, wheat beers, fruit beers, ale’s, lager’s, craft beer, import beer, cider, mead, wine, homebrews, and yes even a beer or two from the evil empires. You name it, I like it, and I want to drink them all.
He wasn’t alone, as Derek from It’s Not Just the Alcohol Talking echoed a similar sentiment. He sees beer with a true place in life, but it also matters where your place in life is when it comes to beer:
Ultimately balance in beer is shaped by our experiences and varies depending on our palates, but I don’t think it’s entirely subjective. I think it’s possible to say objectively which beer between a given two is more balanced. And I think that, given time to adjust, mainstream lager drinkers and craft beer enthusiasts can find a place in the middle of the graph, between boring and extreme, where they both have to admit that beer is at its best.
The Beer-Life Balancers
Darren at I Dream of Brewery is following the dream many homebrewers have – to go pro. But that eventually will mean his priorities will shift, throwing aspects of his life off balance. For him, beer offers a way to deal with craziness of the everyday life or a hard day at work. While he plans for his business, however, he’s got a good way to unwind with the help of a brew:
In the meantime I’ll still maintain my own personal balance with a beer on the couch watching some bad TV. Sometimes.
When this blog started, it was about me, my adventures, & my adventures in homebrewing. I think that the blog will also work out as a medium to keep my beer life balanced from my non-beer life.
Some things have already seemed to be a major challenges that must be worked out. The first night home, trying to eat dinner, was insane. Even cooking dinner together has proved to be difficult but I guess that is what it is all about. Finding and maintaining the balance in our new life. In every aspect.
The Brew Site‘s Jon is a busy guy these days, planning Central Oregon Beer Week. It’s become a second job for him and it’s been tough finding all sorts of life balance. But the end game of it all will be worth it:
I’m working on a project that should bring enjoyment to a lot of people, and the beer is incidental. So rather than calling that “unbalanced” I have to periodically think of it in terms of finding a new balance, which is ultimately a good thing.
Ken from the RateBeer Weekly newsletter drops the name of Japanese novelist Haruki Murakami, who found great balance in his life through a variety of interests and hobbies. Maybe finding beer balance is a matter of finding all the things that mean something special:
Regardless of where one fits into the beer industry, we’re all better off living like we’re in this for the long haul. At the end of everything, though, finding one’s balance is also far more than surviving well. It’s about doing that initial legwork of discovering something we can really dedicate ourselves to, even when things suck (and they will).
Although throughout my entire life I’ve generally felt lost, confused, bewildered and disoriented, I’ve always gravitated toward work that has something to do with a passion.
Still, even though beer is unquestionably a big part of my life, it’s not the only part, and it’s probably not even the biggest or most important part. That would be people; family and friends. Luckily sharing a beer with them makes for a richer experience and for a more balanced existence. For me, that’s balancing beer and life.
Justin at Justin’s Brew Reviews loves to read. Like, a lot. He especially loves reading all the things we beer bloggers have to say, having once hit 125 new posts in his RSS reader while trying to keep up with beer news and reviews. Good man. But in pairing down his daily “to-do” reading list he is able to learn more about beer through living the experiences rather than just reading about them:
I removed many blogs from my RSS reader, which suddenly and drastically reduced my “to do” list. I also stopped putting as much pressure on myself to write new blog posts. I started trying new beers again. Basically, I started taking back the fun part of beer. Most importantly, I started focusing on life again.
Over at the Home Brew Manual – an excellent source for tons of tips and tricks on the hobby – John notes that part of his balance is brewing beer for the fun of it and not just the final product. One of the things I love about his site is he’s constantly doing experiments for us to learn from and includes one about coffee beer:
As well as honing in on the beers I like (English ales), every now and again I balance that with something unexpected.
How does one balance their home brewing addiction with their loved ones who could care less about what they have sitting in secondary fermentation? Well here is my useful advice for managing your addiction.
The Wild Card
Who let this guy in, anyway?