For a while now, I've realised that some of/perhaps most of the fun I get from beer, isn't actually always the beer itself. Very often I get a real buzz from all the peripheral stuff...... I present the following evidence:
i) I am hoarding beer. My cupboard overfloweth. I so cherish the idea of having a large and splendid collection of beer in my stash, that I am often loathe to drink any of my 'treasures'. Even when I know that I have a cupboard full of lovely beer at home, I still desire to go beer-shopping. I dream about it in fact. Generally I only allow myself to drink the really good beers, when (due to over shopping) I can no longer hide* my beers in my cupboard. Having to drink the good stuff however, makes me feel a bit wretched. This, in part, leads to second phenomena (see ii)
ii) The sourcing, acquisition and discovery of beers. As often stated, it gives me enormous pleasure to find an obscure Polish or Lithuanian beer in an obscure local shop. The pleasure of finding is very often larger than the pleasure of drinking these 'finds' - BUT they serve the purpose of allowing me to consume beer regularly, without having to eat into my 'treasures'. DOUBLE WHAMMY!
iii) I take photographs of the beers I drink. I'm not sure when this started, but it's getting worse. Now, not only do I take photographs of particularly noteworthy beers, I also snap pump clips, glasses of indistinguishable liquid and anything that I buy from a beer shop. Not only that, but a new breed of beer photography has been spawned from this - artistic beer photography. Twitter reveals that I am not the only one who likes to snap their beers.
iv) I rate my beers. This is a very longstanding symptom: for ten years I have been reviewing and recording every different beer I sample. This gives rise to a whole panoply of statistical beer geekery, allowing me to tick off countries, beer styles, drinking establishments and actual beers. This pretends to give legitimacy to the innate, blokey need to hunt/gather beers and shout about it to the other members of the 'tribe'. Even though it pretends to be cooler, Untappd fulfils this function also; so for all you Untappd dudes, please be assured you are just as sad as me.
v) I talk endlessly about beer. Whenever I can, I do this with people in the room with me; when this isn't possible, I go online. In fact, by seeking out and forming a peer group of like minded beer geeks, I have fundamentally changed the dynamics of my friendship circle, via the medium of Twitter. Again, and rather obviously, I am not alone in this.
Now points iii), iv) and v) are connected: they are clearly outward expressions of the need to be a part of the crowd and feel accepted. However, as for points i) and ii) - your guess is as good as mine. Perhaps I didn't have enough Star Wars figures as a child. Perhaps I am overvaluing each beer too much, instead of drinking them and yielding to their dirty pleasure. Perhaps my inner puritanical streak shrinks from the wanton lust of actual beer consumption, and therefore turns the acquisition of them into a guilty, exciting pleasure. Others in my 'circle' are less obsessive than me and are able to buy, consume and enjoy: but for me, the possession is part of the excitement.
I also love 'the choice'. In life generally I often find that 'the choice' is much more exciting that 'the choosing'. What does this mean? Well, when I walk into Cotteridge or Stirchley Wines and behold the shelves stacked with colourful treats, my heart is aflutter. When I have to actually select 5 or 6 bottles, I feel constrained, limited and cut short, because the wide expanse of 'the choice' is behind me and and I must live with the results of 'the choosing' (forever wondering whether the grass was greener on the other side)**. This torment repeats itself in my beer cupboard - the thrill of having a really healthy stash, somehow seems more boundlessly exciting than the rather limited excitement of having to select just one to actually drink.
Am I a complete weirdo? Am I alone? No. No I'm not alone. Twitter proves this. And in fact, even for those who do not obsess about beer, they are free to get jiggy with trainspotting, or go wobbly at the knees for vinyl.
I accept that I am a beer fetishist. After all, I actually sat down to write this blog piece about the subject - that's how twisted I am. You (yes, you!) on the other hand have read this article. You're a fetishist too. Accept it.
** rather horrifyingly, this seems to correspond with aspects of my romantic life, during the mid part of the Noughties. Epiphany!