EBBC12 – a personal perspective

As the European Beer Bloggers Conference (EBBC12) in Leeds draws near, I thought I’d do just as quite a few other attendees have, and write a bit of a personal prelude to the event. To be honest, it is all a bit unexpected – three weeks ago I hadn’t even considered going, and yet here I am, now just three days away with conference and hotels booked, and just a train ticket to get (and with no suitable advance purchase tickets available, I can buy that on the day). I’ll make an apology in advance – this post isn’t really much about beer, but there is a link, on a personal note. This post is much more personal than that so feel free to look away now.  And maybe once I’ve got this all off my chest I can go back to writing something far more meaningful that is actually about beer.

While writing my previous post I found my mind drifting slightly off-topic, which to be fair you can tell as you read it! I’d already planned to write something pre-EBBC, and the train of thought I was following kept diverting me from the last post to this one. That, I think, was because I kept touching on the topics that were forming at the back of my mind into a whole different post. I was considering my relationship with beer, and how that has changed over recent months. How much it has changed over the past couple of years. I was trying to show how being a home brewer went hand in hand with drinking more in pubs, rather than less. But I couldn’t stop thinking about how much my relationship with beer has changed, and still is. And I thought about what it meant to have a mid-life crisis.

Now, on the face of it that may sound like to completely separate thoughts. But they kept coming crashing together. Am I saying that I’m having a mid-life crisis, and I’ve turned to drink to help me get through it? Absolutely not. But I think there is a somewhat different connection for me between the two things. And I do wonder if I really am actually having some sort of mid-life crisis. Mention a mid-life crisis and most people, myself included, would instantly think of 40-something men running off with girls half their age, buying sports cars, taking up motorcycling while wearing completely inappropriate leatherwear, that sort of thing. Think a bit more about it and you might also imagine 40-something men leaving their jobs and maybe even families behind and setting off to explore the world. It’ll almost certainly be 40-something men though (do women even have mid-life crises, or are they just better at hiding it? Or is it because men don’t notice because they’re usually too busy having their own?!).

This may be some rather flawed psychology, but to me it seems to be all about the dawning realisation that life is carrying on regardless, taking you along with it, and that if you don’t stop the ride and get off now you quite possibly never will. That job that may have seemed like such a great career choice when you started out is now just the routine you put yourself through every day. Or maybe it wasn’t so much a career decision as a way to make ends meet at the time and it has just carried on that way since. Either way, there seems to be a point where you start to wonder why you’re not doing something else, and sometimes that turns into an effort to make a change. Putting aside the specific details of sports cars and other inappropriateness, that then makes a lot of sense, both in a general, cliched sense but also to me on a personal level. And the cliches of mid-life crisis are surely about making changes where you can, which isn’t necessarily the same as making the changes you really need. I’m not 40-something, but I am approaching it, and while I don’t feel a sense of dread as such at the milestone being less than 3 years away I do feel a sense of frustration at things I want to change but feel unable to.  Frustration at continuing to do things based on a decision made 15 years ago,  because of doing it so long there doesn’t seem to be a way to do anything else. 

This, I think, is where (for me) beer comes in. Not in the sense of turning to drink as a support mechanism, but as a way to make a real change. And not just a superficial one. It’s more than a sports car, because it isn’t a replacement for the changes I’d really like to make, it seems like an opportunity to actually make those changes. To step away from doing something just because it is what you’ve been doing for as long as you can remember.  More than a hobby to escape to, more like a life change to aspire to. An opportunity to be grasped. There’s a long way to go and I have to keep myself firmly rooted in reality by doing “beer things” on the side of family and work life, which isn’t easy, but I don’t actually want a full-blown crisis on my hands, I want a sustainable change. It doesn’t pay to do anything drastic or rash (so the sports car can wait!), but as a result it takes up time on top of all the hours spent doing the other things that still have to be done. That can create its own pressures, especially when you’re relying on the understanding of those who are important to you.

So that is how, I feel, I’ve come to be going to EBBC12. It is part of the gradual immersion in the world of beer and brewing that I’ve been undertaking. I’ve developed a passion for brewing, and another for enjoying the efforts of both myself and others in that field. Through Twitter, and then through this Blog, I’ve found an interest in sharing what I’m experiencing with others, and receiving the benefits of their wisdom and experience. I’ve learnt so much about beer, its ingredients, the process of producing it. I’ve ended up organising a beer festival, with the possibility of more to come, and managing all the publicity around that. I’ve got heavily involved in my local brewing group, taking part in and even running meetings. I’ve even been the after-dinner speaker at the local Rotary. I’ve starting writing regularly, even if not frequently, and am finding more enjoyment in that than I ever thought. And I’ve met some great people – brewers, drinkers, writers and more. All through a shared passion for beer, and for brewing. So with this coming weekend looming close, when I go to Leeds and meet a load more great people who share my interests, I can’t help but be just a little bit excited. If this really is a mid-life crisis, I think I’m going to enjoy it! Anyone want to join with me in drinking to that?

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4 Comments to “EBBC12 – a personal perspective”

  1. I’ll raise a pint to that! Looking forward to meeting you in Leeds this weekend.

  2. Bloody Hell. I’m just going for a good time!

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