March 31, 2014
Hombrewing as Creative Expression and a Seemingly Counter-intuitive, but Effective Check to Alcoholism
My wife noticed my love of microbrew beer and quickly bought me a homebrew kit for Christmas. When I started brewing I developed a much more nuanced and complicated appreciation to the subtleties of flavor and ingredients in beer.
To say it simply good beer tastes good and that leads you to drink more slowly in order to better appreciate it. Great beer is even better. By developing a greater affinity for the process of brewing and all of the differing factors that lead to a great beer, I began to start having more control over the temptation to numb my senses with alcohol. I also began studying home brewing and reading the books written my microbrewers. I came to realize how the rise of light beer increased binge drinking and that the growing microbrew movement regularly spoke out about alcoholism. Only an idiot would waste a great beer shotgunning chugging or funneling it.
Avoiding drinking altogether is a hard pill to swallow for some, but anyone can come to appreciate drinking good beer. Brewing helps one develop a healthy attitude about alcohol. Microbrew beer more expensive and it is harder to afford binge drinking it. For me home brewing has also served a means of creative expression that seems to balance me out a lot and overtime I began to realize that I needed more direct outlets, like this blog.
As a historian I used the analytical side of brain a lot and brewing helps me flex my creative muscles. I am often at loss because grade school did very little “boy or culturally masculine art” and I think this is a problem. For soldiers it is hard to express our feelings. As a historian I think the rise of masculine brewing culture is funny because in Early America women dominated the brewing of homebrew. I might be a feminist, but I can ultimately never escape a lifetime of bombardment by ideas as to what constitutes toughness and manhood. Military training has conditioned us to suppress emotion so hobbies that help us express ourselves are very useful for our return home.
Home brewing is a way to express ourselves in a way that respects our sense of toughness within a masculine cultural ideals. Better it should help us develop an appreciation for alcohol and not an obsession with drunkenness. It is also a hobby that is cost effective (I dare you to try and find another one) and one that you can spend a lifetime getting better at. You can easily brew beer that would cost $3 a bottle in batches of 48 bottles costing a total of $60 (this averages $1.25 per bottle), so after three batches you cover the initial investment.
This certainly would not help us all, and I would discourage this for people with addictive personalities, but it is something I have come to really value. Anything that helps you come to terms with the problems of alcoholism or any hobby that helps make you a better person is useful. I just thought I would share my affinity for brewing and how this unlikely hobby has helped me check the impulse to numb my senses with alcoholism in the hopes that it might help others find new muses or face their own problems.