The secret to a long life of beer drinking?

“When I’m my Dad’s age, I still want to drink what I like.” My recollection of the quote may not be precise, but the words definitely reflect the sentiments expressed by Leigh Linley to myself and Chris Hall at the Stewart’s Brewery. Come fifty, sixty, hell, even seventy, Leigh still wants to be able to enjoy a range of beer in one sitting; not necessarily to get rip-roaringly slaughtered, but to be able to have more than one without saying “that’s enough for today.”

Then, like some shady homeopathic drug dealer, Leigh imparted to us his weapon of choice against the ravages of time and booze: Milk Thistle. I had heard of milk thistle before, from researching hangover cures and talking with a med student friend, but had never tried it. It’s meant to help repair damaged liver cells and reverse the overall negative effects of alcohol if taken consistently.

Milk Thistle

It led me to wonder if other beer geeks take any such precautions. I realised my own protection against the ravages of time and booze was drinking ‘better’. Non-beer geek friends and colleagues are often amazed, impressed and appalled in equal measure at the number of my Untappd check-ins, wondering how I’m still alive. Simply because I talk about beer more gives the impression I drink more, but these are people who will binge on Tuesday nights or demolish two bottles of wine on a Thursday. I choose to drink less quantity to enjoy better quality.

Then, it seems there are other beery types who subscribe to the Hunter S. Thompson approach:

tend to sweat heavily in warm climates. My clothes are soaking wet from dawn to dusk. This worried me at first, but when I went to a doctor and described my normal daily intake of booze, drugs and poison he told me to come back when the sweating stopped.”
–          Hunter. S Thompson, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

For your viewing pleasure, the booze-pickled body of Chris Hall will likely be installed as a permanent exhibit in some London museum, as a terrible warning to some and a holy beer martyr to others. Once the sweating stops, that is. But, again, is this the false perspective of someone who is seen to passionately talk about beer on social media appearing as if they drink more than someone who goes home and quietly demolishes a crate of Stella?

I’m losing the thread. Assuming you drink alcohol, whether you’re a Real Ale Man, Craft Wanker, Beer Geek or just passing through, do you do anything to mitigate the potential damage caused by alcohol?

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8 thoughts on “The secret to a long life of beer drinking?”

  1. Interesting piece. A bit like you I go for quality over quantity. I drink a lot of beer but in smaller measures than I once did. A bit like the principal of thirds (of a pint) at GBBF – you can try a lot of different beers without having a pint of all of them. I can’t help also wondering aloud (as many do) if people think about wine writers/lovers like this? I’ve never heard anyone make a remark suggesting they are all necking a whole bottle of every wine they write about.

  2. I hardly ever, ever drink pints any more. I wish you could drink 1/3s everywhere that sells beer. Especially places that sell strong, expensive beers that I actually only want to taste. I’m reminded of the De Struise tap take over at Cask. We wanted to try all 8 beers but we didn’t even want 1/2s of the stuff that was 9% or whatever. But apparently 1/2 was the smallest dispense you could have.

    Well how is it that when there was a keg of Unhuman Cannonball on at Craft in Islington that was sold in 1/3s?

    Someone please explain this concept of being unable to sell 1/3s to me. People mention weights and measures but it’s all very vague and not definitive.

    1. Thirds are invaluable at a beer festival. I’m also unclear on their availability in pubs; I thought thirds are now a legal measurement throughout the land, so I wonder if landlords are reluctant to stock the right glassware? Maybe they feel that if people are drinking thirds and not pints they lose revenue?

      1. The only measure that licensing law stipulates must be available is 1/2 pint and multiples thereof. 1/3 measures are perfectly legal, but not compulsory so it’s down to the premises’ discretion so stocking the right glassware is possibly a deterrent. Also, with Cask & Craft Islington being in different boroughs of London there may be different conditions attached to their respective licences.

      2. Cheers Alex, very knowledgeable! Fiddly things, those third glasses. Brains brewery have third markings on their half pint glasses, so that’s always something for breweries and landlords to consider.

  3. I’m going to invest in some Milk Thistle, and frankly any other snake oil I can get hold of. There’s no way my consumption is going to decrease any time soon, so mitigation is the key. Perhaps some weights for my liver, or a little treadmill?

  4. For me, I don’t even think it’s about thirds, because I like to drink thirds because i, rather greedily, want to try and sample – and enjoy – as much different beer as possible. For me, it’s about sheer *volume*. I’ve heard stories of people necking gargantuan amounts of beer – not just bloggers or beer writers – but landlords, brewers, sales reps – on a daily basis. I’m no angel, I’ve just come back off a fortnight in Italy where I drank wine and ate amazing, rich food daily – but I went for a swim each day, hydrated in the day, that sort of thing. You know what I mean? It’s balance, isn’t it?
    What’s more, I certainly would’nt want to ever get to a stage where, on a crawl, perhaps, a suggestion of ‘something lighter’ for a round or getting some food in would be denigrated as ‘cheating’ – that’s the thin end of the wedge right there. It happens.

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