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.
7 thoughts on “The Session #111: Succumbing to a Beer Midlife Crisis”
You pretty much took the words out of my mouth. I’m buying less beer, drinking down my cellar and brewing more beer as that stimulates me more. There are so many new beers coming out that I just can’t keep up and I don’t try to anymore. I do enjoy keeping up with the new breweries coming, especially since one will be about a mile from our house. We do enjoy having our travels revolve around beer as that gets us to experience other cities though.
True, I am pretty excited for the brewery that’ll be between me and work. Plus, Rivertown’s new spot will fall on the same path when it opens. And I don’t travel just for beer so much anymore, but I do take an extra day or two to hit beer spots and always scope out any breweries/bars/bottle shops in towns I’ll be in.
In doing the Cincy Brewcast podcast, I find that continuing to find the beers, the breweries, the stories, meeting the fine folks that are involved in the ancillary businesses and so forth continues to stoke the creative process that is required for a weekly hour or so of “radio/video”. In that way, having done the program for a year plus, I feel that I personally and our program can continue to grow in such a way that discovery of new beer, breweries, etc can maintain its excitement and allure.
I’ve never chased “whalez”–I’ve kind of let that stuff come to me, which it has fortunately, at least in a small way. But in my travels, I always seek out the “local” beers, and if I can bring some back, I do. And while a couple of years ago I was interested in getting Hopslam, etc, I’ve calmed down on that a lot.
I drink beer but not exclusively, and when I go to a place that is not a local taproom, I drink “national” or out of market crafts. But I’m not “tired” or suffering a “mid life crisis” when it comes to beer–I’ve been drinking it since I was 14 for chrissakes and still haven’t gotten tired of it in the least.
I think it is pretty normal to get hyper into something for several years and then to feel a bit done with it once it stops being challenging intellectually. You’ve been writing and learning about beef for so long that it makes sense that there is a law of diminishing returns when it comes to trying new beer. I have fallen in and out of love with different things many times in life and I am kind of afraid that one day I will wake up and bourbon won’t be as exciting to me anymore. A couple of times I have thought that maybe I am ready to move onto something else but then I find a new opportunity or angle to approach it that I haven’t tried and it gets exciting to me again.
My enjoyment of bourbon and other spirits is still burning, it’s just blocked by costs. Bourbon isn’t cheap and rarely comes in single serving sizes. The one time I went on a bourbon spree it took me over a year to drink it down.
i went through a phase when I first got untappd where I was all about trying something unique. Then I came to the realization that one of the reasons I started trying new beers is to find out what i like. If that is the case then what is the sense in not buying more of the ones you like? SO I have gone back to the classics that I love but still manage to grab one mixed six pack in my trips to the beer store so that there is something new in my life too. I guess you could say I went from being a polygamist when I was young, to a craft beer whore and now am living the swinger lifestyle. Able to hit the old standby but mix it up too and keep things interesting . Fun read. Thanks. #beerup
I would tend to agree that once you’ve written so many beer reviews, or brewery profiles, or whatever type stories it gets harder to make them fresh and interesting from the writers perspective. So after writing hundreds and hundreds of posts it’s natural to get a little burned out.
I think you are taking the right approach to only write about things that interest you as they come. I know my.output has slowed down now that the blog is in its third year, and youve been at it much longer than i have.
One thing that helps keep me motivated is the challenge of improving the way i tell a story, even when writing on a topic that might be familiar. I’m sure there is more room for improvement in my writing ability than there is room to make beer better than those that are already out there.
I hope you keep writing when the mood hits you. I always enjoy reading your blog.