I am writing this from the grand hall of the Philadelphia Convention Center, where I’ve spent the last four days attending this year’s Craft Brewers Conference. I am here on an official capacity as a member of the media. I am still trying to wrap my head around it all.
I traveled just over 400 miles from North Carolina to get here and, by the time you read this, I will have traveled another 400 back.
The challenge of comprehending my place within beer – and the fact I have a place at all aside from Average Joe Drinker – gets pause from me every day. From whatever questionable beginnings of this blog to where I am now, I’ve somehow managed to carve out a niche. Because I write about beer sometimes.
I am still trying to wrap my head around it all.
So as Friend of the Program Oliver Gray prompts me to question the potential of my Beer Midlife Crisis as host of this month’s Session, I luckily fall – perhaps still bewildered – on the opposite side of his curiosities:
Do you find it hard to muster the same zeal for beer as you did a few years ago? Are you suffering through a beer-life crisis like I am? If so, how do you deal with it?
I’ve embraced the madness, whatever that means.
On Feb. 22, 2013, in an email exchange with a friend, I included this note, after they asked me if I’d ever get professionally involved in beer: “I would honestly love to get into the industry through marketing/communications, but it’s probably not in the cards for a while, if ever.”
How naive of me.
While I continue to work to share topics of importance on my blog, the last three years have been very kind to me, whether that came in the way of receiving awards for my work or being lucky enough to write for the country’s best beer publication. At the time of writing that email, I assumed I would never be dealt an opportunity to be a part of the industry and its many fantastic people. Now I constantly feel like I’ve been given a royal flush.
As the beer community has grown and changed, so have I, only increasing my interest and passion on a whole host of issues related to beer. By the time this is published, I’ll have worked to explore the necessity of conversations around race and gender, but I’ve also allowed beer to inspire me in creative ways, from fiction to photography.
I suspect that inspiration isn’t going away. As Michael Kiser pointed out on Good Beer Hunting:
When I hear 2,000 new breweries are on their way, I get excited about 2,000 new hands to shake and new ideas to hear. Because I know, as someone devoted to the future of this industry, that in that mix of 2,000 new breweries is a bunch of perspectives that are not like my own.
In what feels like another life, I was a newspaper reporter. I got up early to meet deadlines and I stayed up late attending planning board meetings. I met people, searched for stories and pushed myself, sometimes to a detriment of others. But it was an important job on two fronts: I was necessary to educate others and I, myself, wanted to be educated.
Like so many other writers, I always want to learn more. What better way to immerse yourself in the thing you love? Writing, on any subject, can be a never-ending day of school. It offers a path to lifelong education. And that can be amazing.
If anything, being a part of the beer community only energizes me and makes me crave more. In terms of my own lifetime spent with beer, I haven’t even reached puberty yet.
I don’t ever want to grow up.
This post has been my contribution to The Session, a monthly collaborative blogging effort with beer writers from around the world.
“Don’t drink to get drunk. Drink to enjoy life.” — Jack Kerouac