The Session is a monthly group writing prompt for beer bloggers to share their thoughts on topics. Oliver J. Gray of Literature and Libation put forward the topic this month, Surviving a beer midlife crisis. He prompted us with a simple question:
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?
My answer to the first question is a clear yes, the second question requires contemplation, and the third question requires explanation.
Waning Excitement in a Sea of Similarities
To clarify further on the first question beyond “a clear yes,” I most definitely find it harder to muster the same zeal as years gone by. Four and more years ago I was delighted to hear about new releases and seek out all that I could. I wasn’t trying beers for the ticks on Untappd, but because there were so many new beers to try!
“Gose? What the fuck is that!? I gotta try it. Oh, a new IPA? I’ll get that one next. Wait, a new local brewery! Let me get an entire flight!” – Me in 2013
As my tenure as a Beer Enthusiast crossed the decade mark, I slowly began to realize that the vast majority of beers don’t stand out from the vast majority of beers. There is little reason to seek out the newest IPA from the latest brewery because it’s probably just the same as the IPA you’ve been drinking for years now.
I even have RateBeer data to confirm my hypothesis that there is a minimal difference in most beer.
Mid Beer-Life Crisis?
I don’t have a quick answer to this question, and it requires more information before I can begin to contemplate the situation. To me, a midlife crisis means a slightly chubby mid/late 40s man buying a flashy car and ogling young women at a bar. According to Wikipedia:
A midlife crisis is a transition of identity and self-confidence that can occur in early middle aged individuals.
With “middle age” later being defined as 45 to 60 I’m, luckily, not that old yet. However, I have gone through and am still going through, “a transition of identity” in my beer life.
As I said before, I no longer relentlessly hunt new beer. I don’t spend the majority of my evenings bouncing between bars and breweries drinking all the beers.
Along with that, I also just don’t care as much.
Woohoo, Cincinnati is about to have two new breweries? Wait, three? Four?
I can’t keep track of the ones that are open, let alone all the ones that are opening now, soon, or whenever they have a successful Kickstarter, third times the charm, right?
Even with this blog, I started with a goal of doing 2 or 3 beer reviews a week, then realized beer reviews are lame, so I’ll do 2 or 3 other posts a week. But, I just don’t care about beer as much and forcing myself to write at that level result in lower quality posts. So now I write when I want to and have something to say. What you’re reading now is an excellent example of that. The Session is the first Friday of the month, and everyone is supposed to post that day, eh, I didn’t feel like it last week, so I’m writing this now.
Why am I drinking all these beers and writing all these posts when neither are as good as they used to be?
Surviving and Succumbing
Oliver asked how we’re dealing with our beer-life crisis; he also titled his post with the word surviving. I’m not surviving or dealing with it; I’m succumbing to it. I fully accept it, and I’m glad for it.
Not chasing #Whalez or even just new shelf beer releases is saving me money and helping me drink down my cellar thanks to #DrinkItNow. Both of these things result in me drinking more of beers I know that I love instead of trying beers that are either good, mediocre, or just plain wrong.
An unexpected side effect of all this is that my homebrewing is going up, both quantity and quality wise.
Have You Reached Your Beer-life Crisis?
I wasn’t part of the craft boom of the mid-90s, I was only 13 when that bubble burst. I started drinking good beer back in 2004 and by 2010 was deeply into it. I think I’ve been at this slightly more than many current beer enthusiasts.
Which makes me wonder, how many other people have hit a beer-life crisis? How did you react to it? Please leave your story in the comments.
I’m also incredibly curious about what’ll happen when the massive surge of new craft beer drinkers from the past 3-years hit their beer-life crisis.