Three Hundred and Seventeen days.
That is how long I have been at this. This, my (asinine or otherwise) journey or quest or adventure, however one may choose to refer to it.
Three Hundred and Seventeen days of reading about, searching for, dreaming of, learning about, speaking about, pouring, trading, procuring, and drinking the most ancient of beverages. Days upon days upon days of a complete immersion in beer. Is it bad to have beer be the first thing you think of in the morning? Maybe.
Now, this isn't thinking of beer in the I-want-to-skip-work-and-start-drinking-now kind of manner. It is more of a self exploration. Am I on the right pace? Did I give every single beer last night a proper examination? Were any of my reviews skewed because I didn't drink the beer in the proper order to avoid palate fatigue? Did I drink too much? Did I drink to little? Why didn't I drink any at all? Did I use the right glassware to properly display each brew? Should I have stayed up a little later, poured one more, and put pen to paper to review them all?
This has happened every morning for the past three hundred and sixteen days. It also hits somewhere around lunch time when I am deciding what sandwich to order. It blindsides me when I am walking to my car after leaving a coffee shop. It gives me respite when the person in front of me in line is arguing that their expired coupon should still be valid. It shows its face, expectedly, when I am searching the internet for beer news. If I want to watch a movie in silence, it starts a conversation with me, internally. It creeps into the back of my mind on the way home from work during the breakdown of a song that I was belting at the top of my lungs, off key of course.
When I sit down for dinner with a fresh beer poured (chosen based on the meal) I don't enjoy it right away, rather I wonder if I am on point with my counting. Did I miss any? Should I go check my notebook? No...I'll do it after dinner. I'll check my untappd and instagram slyly under the table now. Maybe immersed isn't the right word.
Consumed by consumption. Yes, that is more like it.
I am not even mad.
One may wonder where I am going with this. And, by one, I mean myself (if anyone else wants to jump aboard the path of wonderment, be my guest). For these three hundred plus days (I'm getting tired of being exact here) I have been searching my mind, heart, soul, beer cellar, refrigerator and empty glasses for the answer. I started this with hopes of having a story to tell. One thousand beers. One year. It is a perfect marriage. It is harmonious. The slipper fits. Cue the Fairy Tale wedding. Book about beer and tour to follow.
The first two are near completion. The third and fourth mere merry wishes.
The problem is, once a writer, always a writer.
No way of story telling is good enough. A beer book about beer is simply not good enough. Half of the story will not be beer history and a list of hops and their alpha acid levels. Beer reviews and recommendations, well, those are best left to blogs and amazing beer publications like Draft and All About Beer.
So where does that leave me?
Well, here. Sipping on and being inspired by my second (in a row) PsycHOPathy by Madtree Brewing Co from Cincinnati, Ohio. Tropical nose. Piney finish. A well hidden 6.9% ABV falling beneath a snow white head. A beer with a story to tell. But what is it trying to say?
That is it. I am left being mirrored by the beer that I drink. Am I saying that I become one with the beer? No, that is just weird and there isn't a daytime talk show prepared for that sort of thing.
But I am mirrored because I allow it. I take each beer as it comes. I am not one who takes a beer in front of me and runs of a checklist of all of the things that would make it better. And I am tired of those that do. I like to call it the Dogfish epidemic. Every new beer they make, the naysayers fall in line with lines like "it's no 90 Minute." No, it isn't. It isn't supposed to be. 90 Minute is 90 Minute. Do not compare the newest Ancient Ale made with foreign ingredients foraged for from the deepest depths of the world to a continually hopped IPA. Now, with some digression, I admit that this is a microcosm of a grander picture.
But, this happens every day, every where, with countless beers. And it is not fair. Not to the brewer, not to the drinker (the unsuspecting or the one making such claims). Every single sip of every single beer should be appreciated on the surface first with no preconceived notions or ideas of what it should be based on beer ratings or a friends recommendation. And this brings me to where I am left.
I am left where I started.
With the idea that every beer is it's own story. A liquid epic needing to be read cover to cover.
But how do I tell my story of all of the stories that I have read this year?
An old friend told me recently that I am the Odysseus of beer. It may be the best compliment that I have ever been given (see English Major turns Beer Lover).
It also gave me the idea of how to move forward.
This work, this beer work, truly suits me best.
Until next time.