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A triptych, on balance

Ethan and I have mentioned Beer-O-Vision, our pre-CBW beer blog, quite a bit. It’s true! I used to do this as a hobby, albeit without the “hey we’re making beer too” element. Back then we would participate in The Session pretty regularly, and now that I’m back to what’s essentially beer blogging here on Tuesdays, well, Risk nemesis Alex Placito suggested I get back to it.

What is The Session? Beer blogs take turns “hosting” it, naming a topic. On the first Friday of each month everyone writes about it, and then you read what everyone else wrote. You might notice that this is not, in fact, the first Friday of the month. In the future I’ll put them up the Tuesday beforehand, but last week I decided my April Fool’s gag was too important and so I’m a little late.

This month: balance.

From the host:

April’s topic is “Finding Beer Balance.” It’s a discussion I hope will offer a variety of responses as people consider their interests outside of finding the perfect pint.

Is beer your vice? Is beer your reward? Does beer really have to be either? Do you find lifestyle balance through work, hobbies, family or maybe even “Dry Days” like David Bascombe? There are a variety of ways to find balance.

What follows is my own personal take, and not an official statement from CBW. I’m not saying anything bad, of course, but, you know, let’s sit backwards in a chair and rap about my personal philosophy of beer.

Balance the first: consumption

Beer is not a vice or a reward for me. It is, instead, an ever-present companion for my life. That’s the point of this blog series, right? To document how beer intertwines with the rest of what I do, how I see everything through beer-colored-lenses. Beer-O-Vision, if you will.

It’s not a big deal: it just is. That’s the healthiest way to go about it, I think. I have a beer most nights with dinner, and my son sees that. I’m not getting drunk, it’s just there, in reasonable amounts. His mom doesn’t have beer because she doesn’t like it, just like how I don’t like anything with artificial grape flavor after an abundance of Dimetapp as a child. That seems to me to be the best way to go about things: beer isn’t some scary forbidden fruit, it’s just a drink.

Balance the second: health

There’s a lot of research out there about the health benefits or risks from beer consumption, and like most actual science everything conflicts with everything else. I plan on doing a more extensive literature review of it some time in the future (though in the meantime there was some nice discussion about it in the comments on Ethan’s Squibs 9), but now I’ll just relate an anecdote about calorie counting.

The year was 2008. My employer was having a Biggest Loser type competition, and despite tracking my calories and working out regularly I just wasn’t losing weight. I went about a month without a beer, because beer has calories in it! (this was before I got involved in homebrewing or met Ethan: such an idea now is laughable)

Then I realized I was really cutting out calories. Like, really cutting them out. I suspected my body was going into what I call “desert island mode”, where I’m eating so little it thinks I can’t find any food and stops the presses on my metabolism. So I said hey, fine, I’m not losing weight anyway: I’ll have a beer.

And the pounds started melting off.

Am I saying beer helped me lose weight? No. But I am saying that, when balanced, it won’t hurt you. I’m once again tracking my calorie intake, and the Southern Tier IPA last night didn’t stop the scale from giving me good news this morning. And last Friday, when I found myself at a tasting of Hill Farmstead’s citra IPA, Founders Kentucky Breakfast Stout and other beers, furiously shoving pastelillos from Niagara Cafe into my face and eating the entire 1/4 chicken that came with it? I was not similarly rewarded the next day. I’m still recovering from it, if you must know, but we’re not friends on MyFitnessPal so you don’t.

Balance the third: this blog

I truly love writing for this blog. (Hey, don’t you truly love reading it? Vote for it/me as Best Blog in Artvoice!) Which is funny, because it generally has nothing to do with beer itself. But the act of being able to follow whatever flight of whimsy takes me is incredibly gratifying.

It’s not just the blog, of course. It’s part of our (excuse me I’m going to throw up) corporate culture. We allow ourselves to be silly sometimes. When you come in to get a growler filled, we have a sign advertising our prepaid card: $100 for 10 growler fills. When Rudy made it, he added a picture of a donkey he found on Google Images, and added a word balloon that says “WOW!”

That donkey embodies everything that I love about this brewery, with the exception of the great beer part. That’s also important. But if we had to have a meeting about whether or not a donkey fit into our brand values, well, I wouldn’t be devoting as many hours a week to this place as I am. If I wrote a blog post about what we learned from Kickstarter and didn’t feel comfortable including an unreasonable number of occurrences of the word “halfling”… we wouldn’t be CBW.

But this isn’t Tumblr. I think that if the blog was nothing but nonsense then it would suffer. You have to maintain a balance.

I’m just damn happy I can.