Friday, April 11, 2014

On Turning 1000

I did it. I just reached 1000 distinct beers on untappd. To some of you that statement isn't going to make sense and to others, it will be a dubious statement. So, let's just figure out what the hell I just said.

Yeah me! A new beer badge.
Untappd is a social beer application that helps you track beer while earning badges along the way. When I first heard about it, it seemed as if it would drive you to drink in a literal way as you tried to level up. I'll admit that I did drink a beer that I wouldn't have drank (or is that drunk - guess it depends on how many) in order to gain a badge but I don't think it pushed me anywhere.

What the app did do was change the way I looked at my drinking habits. I joined on December 24th, 2011. That means that in 28 months, I have drank 1367 beer with 1000 different beer. That's 48 beer per month or 12 a week. Let's step away from that number for a second and try to break it down or rationalize it.

Chris Schryer posted an excellent blog post about alcoholism and craft beer drinking when he attempted to drink a traditional monk's diet for Lent. Drinking a lot of beer is not necessarily alcoholism. The element of addiction is what moves drinking into that arena but then there is that very big number there.

When I was gnashing my teeth at the whole privatization of alcohol sales in Ontario debate, Brian Papineau, a beer blogger from Ottawa quipped that the real issue is that I haven't been able to find a beer that I like and that may be making me cranky.

So, both these folks have made me question both how I am drinking and what I am drinking. How did I get to this number? Well in the last 28 months, I have gone to four large beer festivals where I have sampled around 20-30 beer at each. Not all samples were fully quaffed and in reality, it was probably around 2 ounces for each sample. That handles 100 right there. There are smaller tap takeovers and more indie type beer events in the city that would account for about 10 different beer each time. Let's say, I've been to around six to eight of those beer events in the last two years. So, another 60.

Now, for regular bar going, it is in my local where every six weeks where I split six beer with a buddy, resulting in a three pint night. That would account for another 110-120 listed beer. So, 1000 beer less 270 is 730 distinct beer that I drank, mainly at home. That makes for just over a beer a day when you add in the duplicates.

That number feels about right. But how do I feel about that number?

Let's go after the second part of my introspection, why so many kinds of beer? Is it just novelty? Before I used the app, I rarely drank the same beer twice in a row and would come back to a beer in a seasonal way. I still do that now but if given the choice of a new beer, I will go for it. Part of it is due to the app egging me on but another part is the growth of beer in Ontario and LCBO's focus on seasonal releases.

Now, every quarter or so, the LCBO introduces a number of new beer that will only be around for a short while. Interspersed with these known releases, there are brewery spotlights and local breweries switching in their seasonal brews. This makes for a set of options that will only be around for a while and in some cases, will not come around. It tickles my scarcity and exclusivity bone. I want to try this rare bird before it flies away. The same drive that causes the Pokemon itch in kids, drives my need to collect them all. Do I feel bad that there isn't a go to beer for me? Do I believe that the next thing is better?

Upon reflection, the idea of a beer a day that changes only coming back once or twice a year doesn't sound so bad. It is very close to the way I eat, seasonal with variations on a theme. My burgers are rarely dressed the same way twice but because they are burgers, they are easily compared and help me appreciate the great ones when they come around again. Here's looking forward to the next thousand beer(s).

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