It’s not a problem, it’s a craft.

I recently posted an article on Louisvillebeer.com’s Facebook page that struck a chord with me.  Heather Vandenengel wrote an article on Serious Eats (Drinks section) entitled “5 Issues Craft Beer Drinkers Should Be Talking About” and I couldn’t agree with her more on the issues she brought up.  Some of the viewpoints discussed often get pushed aside and eventually become the intoxicated elephant in the craft beer room.  She hits on the topics of Gender, Over-consumption, Beer as Business, the Environment, and Safety.  Beer as Business is probably the most discussed topic of the group with the “death to macro” debate and the looming craft beer bubble bursting (I hope when it bursts, it sprays beer everywhere). All important issues in my mind really, but the topic of “Over-consumption” hung around my head like a beer festival hangover.

Vandenengel also noted this article by Miles Liebtag. So I went ahead and read that. Fuck.  I then shared it on my Facebook page.  I wanted others to read it and quietly question themselves. I’m sure quite a few expletives were uttered under the breath of some of my Facebook friends.  Probably many wanted to click on “fuck this” rather than the “like” feature of Facebook.

If you were like me, you read both articles (possibly skimming some out of guilt) and had to ask yourself some serious questions in regards to your own craft beer habits.  As someone who works/volunteers “in the industry”, I’m around craft beer all the time. Blessing and a curse, I guess.  Whether it be emails, promoting events, or going to tastings, craft beer has become a big staple in my life as a business and hobby.  I love the stuff and more importantly, the people and the relationships behind them.  To me, these people are like my family in some weird sort of way that can’t be deciphered unless you really knew the lot of them. We talk about beer and things related all the time, but the words “over consumption” are rarely uttered in our imbibing.

My real family, the ones I’ve called Mom and Dad for 31 years, have also been big staples in my life.  They’ve also been recovering alcoholics for as long as I can remember.

Although beer has brought me a lot of enjoyment and pride in my recent years and career, as a child growing up, beer and alcoholism created an unhealthy environment.  I can visually remember stealing my parents Busch Light, running out behind the house and dumping as much as I could, and then hiding the cans in a nearby cornfield.  I can still vividly remember the alcohol-induced night that eventually led to my parents divorce.  After twenty-three years, the images are still ingrained in my long-term memory no matter how many brain cells were damaged during my college years.  Thanks to alcoholism, I spent close to a whole year without seeing one of my parents.  Well, unless you mean running over to the neighbor’s house when you saw their car come down the road.  So yea, these articles conjured up some shit for me.

So when I was asked to work with the Kentucky Guild of Brewers, I had some initial hesitation.  I knew it could potentially be a stepping stone into a future in the craft beer industry or could be a recipe for disaster.  I had to sit back and reflect on my own habits, the habits I watched growing up, my impulses, and also the future of the industry.

I  find myself on a tight rope with one of my best friends I run with a lot.   A recovering alcoholic himself who almost lost everything until he found his faith, I feel guilty posting beer related things on my Facebook page.  If I was making him worry, he’d let me know, that’s what friends do.

“I’m not a dude throwing down a 30 pack of Bud Light in a night, I just had 5-6 craft beers.”

Well Honcho, those 5-6 good beers probably got you shitfaced also.

There is the excuse that over consumption of craft beer is OK because it’s a craft/hobby.  It’s all about the experience and whose behind the beer, I’m supporting localism!  So that makes it right OK?

Bullshit.  Yes, to a degree I guess it can be valid, but using that as an excuse to pound high ABV beers doesn’t fly with me.  Although the craft beer industry brings up a lot of issues, the discussion of craft beer alcoholism is about as apparent as a totally sober participant at a bottle share.

Via the Mayo Clinic, alcoholism is described as  a chronic and often progressive disease that includes problems controlling your drinking, being preoccupied with alcohol, continuing to use alcohol even when it causes problems, having to drink more to get the same effect (physical dependence), or having withdrawal symptoms when you rapidly decrease or stop drinking.  As most know, denial is an over-arching theme in alcoholism.

So when you read those articles mentioned above, did you ask yourself when was the last time you had a night without a beer?  How about two or three nights?  How about a night out when you only had one to two beers?  I know I did.  So when you think you may have had too much or probably shouldn’t have driven, you already know the answer.

I love how much our local craft beer industry is growing, in fact, it’s a part of my job to help it grow.  Help it grow responsibly.

 

  1. Beau Walker

    Great article my man and something we all need to be more cognizant of. I certainly know it rings true with me.

    Reply
  2. Thanks for sharing that personal story. I realized that my craft beer consumption was unhealthy, so I decided to take a year off from drinking. I’ve tried to moderate my intake, but I fall back into old habits quickly. Hopefully a period of abstinence will help me refocus my priorities. I’m on day # 13 with no alcohol, which feels like a big accomplishment, since that’s probably how many days in total I went last year without drinking (or getting drunk).

    I still geek out about beer (I’m on this site), so here’s to beer making life better and not getting in the way. Cheers.

    Reply
  3. Excellent article. You are right, that as a”hobby” we have a tendency to overlook the consequences of our hobby. Most people that love craft beer don’t have a problem, but it is still good to step back occasionally think about how things really affect your life and the people around you. It is all about moderation.

    Reply
  4. New Hibernia Ale Works March 4, 2014, 8:50 pm

    Its also tough when you have a lot of friends that are into craft beer, and you get together for “some” beers. The next exciting thing pulled from each others stash, eventually becomes an impromptu binge drinking event. Its a fine line to walk when the frequency increases.

    Reply
  5. I admire your bravery in sharing your personal story in this article. It truly did make me rethink my own consumption of craft beer and think about how overconsumption of local beer is the just alcoholism re-packaged. It reminds me of a dude 20 years ago who justified his cigarrette smoking as supporting tobacco farmers.

    Reply

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