The day was Thursday, August 21st, and I sat impatiently on a plane aimed at San Diego. I left New Orleans that morning en route to the West Coast to attend a conference. The Beer Bloggers Conference, a gathering of writers from across the country, took place that weekend in the most hallowed of beer-soaked soil that is San Diego County. As I sat there pondering the life that had brought me to the beginnings of my first ever beer vacation (beer-cation?), I had to ask myself, Why? Why fly 2000 miles and spend a decent chunk of money for something so seemingly trivial? Sure beer tastes good and can get you nice and tipsy, but hardly so important a matter to dedicate this much of oneself to, right?
This, as it turns out, is a pretty easy question for me to answer, but let me start with a little explanation.
There are times when I look at others around me and become jealous of their passions. Friends pouring full hearts into their work, their music, their favorite cause. There is certainly no shortage of that in New Orleans. She is a city of passion, for the passionate. Moreso than any other American city, its residents live amongst the celebration of all things, the normalization of festivity, the joy of being joyful. Then I look at perhaps my greatest joy, drinking a good beer, and think, “Well that’s pretty lame.” All I’m doing is consuming what someone else has created from their passion, not contributing to the landscape of beautiful things to be consumed, whether it be beer or art or gumbo. Sure, I brew my own on occasion, but I’m not selling it… and besides, I only manage to churn out 2 or 3 batches a year at this point. So how in any way is this important enough to take vacation time from work, when there are people out there fighting to save the wetlands or teaching kids to read?
Simply put, it makes people happy. And not just in an inebriated way, but in a way that the first taste of a good batch of boiled crawfish does. Or the way the funk and rhythm of Trombone Shorty can lift you up from whatever is holding you down, set you on your feet, and turn those sneakers into dancing shoes. We thrive on these moments that make life a bit more exciting or surprising, like sharing a fresh Firestone Walker ale with an old college buddy in another state. That’s how it works. It may not be about seeking a fine brew for everyone, obviously, but the fact that there are beer-crazed masses who chase down their first sip of Pliny the Elder or Westvleteren 12 or Cantillon Zwanze, that’s enough evidence for me that my efforts are not wasted.
So now that I’ve returned from my brew-fueled pilgrimage to San Diego, I can reflect and know that there was a good reason. Because, damnit, mankind deserves to be happy, and whether that comes from a glass of wine with friends, a vat of jambalaya at a Saturday afternoon tailgate, or a holiday spent tutoring needy children, it’s worth writing about. In the end, we’re all just trying our best to wring what enjoyment we can from the sweaty washcloth of life. And for one long weekend, I was able to down those drops of joy prodigiously, and afterwards attempt, in some small way, to share that glass with you.
Because, damnit, you deserve it too.