The Session No. 76: Compulsion

This month’s Session* topic is hosted by Glen Humphries, a journalist and beer columnist who also writes at Beer Is Your Friend. He raises the topic of “Compulsion” and writes:

Like most beer fans, I tend to buy way more beer than I can drink. I can have a fridge full, plus a few boxes of bottles, plus homebrew and still I’ll walk into a shop and buy some more. Or order some more online. Or do both in the space of a few days.

Why do we do stuff like this? . . . . . What so many of us do is stock up, even though we’re already stocked up. . . . Is buying heaps of beer something you worry about? Do you look at your Aladdin’s Cave of beer and feel even a smidge of guilt about how much it all cost you? Or do you just rub your hands together, cackle with glee and say ‘‘it’s mine! All mine!’’.

What lengths do you go to to hide this compulsion? For instance, do you try and sneak beer into the house so your other half doesn’t see it? (Not saying that I’ve done this. Oh, okay, I have done this).

It’s a compulsion that can extend to homebrewing too. Do you keep making new batches of homebrew, even though you already have plenty of your own brews to drink?

Fortunately Glen chose a bit of a lighter-side of the alcohol compulsion topic, though I hesitate to make complete light of it.  Compulsion suggest “problem.” Unfortunately, it’s difficult to know where the line is whether we’re talking about the collecting aspect or the consumption aspect.

The topic of the March Session was “Beer Audit” and much of what I wrote then is as applicable here. Go to any decent beer store, particularly if you’ve traveled to a region that has different distribution than home, and you’ll find more choices than you can drink in a year.  Or two.

This plethora of choices is the beer geek’s crack.  There are fresh hops and hop bombs and dainty saisons that must be drunk now.  There are boozy stouts and imperial porters and dense barelywines that will surely benefit from years in the cellar.  Must have them all!

The typical Beer Geek (myself included) doesn’t want to miss out.  Plus, get into a discussion with one of us about beer and it almost inevitably turns into a competition.  Who’s had the most mythical beers? Who has the biggest collection? Honestly, that stuff gets old. (And I’m as guilty as anyone.)

Compulsion gets old, too. That drive to buy more, drink more and horde more is strong once you dive into true geekdom.  For that reason, I’ve made it a point this year to do less.  Less buying, less drinking, less hording.  I’ve whittled down my stash significantly. Even to the point where my fridge looks relatively empty.  Oh, there’s room for the occasional gem I spot, but if there’s one thing I’ve learned over the past few years of trying hundreds of beers – there aren’t that many gems.

Most beers I’ve tried have been perfectly fine. That is to say they’re good beers and I’d probably enjoy them again. No better or worse than a hundred others.  And that’s a good thing.  It reminds me there are plenty out there to enjoy and very few, if any, worth worrying too much about.  That’s the first step to getting rid of compulsion. Or at least making it less compelling.

*Today is the first Friday in June which means it’s time to take part in The Session, a collective effort of beer bloggers around the world to write on a common topic once each month.