The Session # 10 – Snowed In

by Sean on February 5, 2016

The Session is back hosted by the Brewsite and the theme for February: “is “Snowed In,” and I want it to be open-ended. It’s the first week of February—we are solidly in the grip of the winter, which means hunkering down from the cold and, depending on where you live, waiting for warmer days to thaw out the ice and snow. But perhaps it’s one of those winters, where the snow starts falling… and falling… and falling some more, and the next thing you know, schools are closed, there’s four or more feet of snow on the ground—and you are effectively snowed in and not going anywhere.”

For those of you living in the southern climes who don’t have snow to worry about, perhaps it’s some other stormy situation keeping you indoors—hurricanes or tropical storms, for instance. You tell me—I live northerly!”

Jon helpfully gave many suggestions for where to start but what struck me was the following idea: “So what does winter mean for your beer consumption. Does it go up or down. Does being stuck indoors effect it? And how does the weather change what you choose to drink?”

I would hazard a guess that most people prefer Goldilocks weather. A nice even temperature that is just right. I would guess again that most people fall into either the “hate the cold” camp or the “despise the heat” crew. Personally, heat is the death of me. It saps my energy and I can’t taste the beer in the same way. Each sip is a blur of liquid until I give up and start drinking ice tea or water to slake my thirst and cool me down.

Luckily for this Session, I do not have the same problem with cold. Unluckily, I am in Southern California where cold and snow haven’t visited in many a moon. Even the so-called Godzilla El Nino has barely touched us in Los Angeles.

But I do visit my hometown of Portland each year and I get my chance to sip a barley wine in November or a strong dark ale in February to balance out the oncoming rush of session IPA’s that are on tap in SoCal. And it is from those trips and other colder climes that have coincided with beer drinking that informs my take on beer and cold weather.

But let’s tackle how the rain, sleet and snow affect my beer drinking rounds from the simple on the ground issues to more complex issues involved in how I enjoy beer.

It is obvious that if the city is shut down with snow flurries that I won’t be out driving to the new brewery in town. Since I am more of a homebody and not a partier, any excuse to stay in will be taken with alacrity. Even if the ‘fridge is nudging towards empty of bottles and cans, I would choose to “make-do” and not sled my way to a bottle shop. So if, the scenario plays out that I am in a cabin in the woods with snow up to the windows, then my beer drinking will be finite depending on how much beer is in the building and how much of it is good.

But that doesn’t mean that my consumption will inevitably go down. As opposed to the heat that drains me, cold winds get my blood circulating and to me there is no happier moment than sitting in a comfy chair with a blanket and a beer. It is probably my form of hibernating. The transition from the cold of the outside to the warmth of home or a bar is a feeling that evokes fond memories and a sense of not relief but letting go of troubles and cares and the weather with a glass of something warming or at least radiant with hops and malts.

Another oddity about me (amongst many), is that despite the multiple opportunities to sit and drink outside that L.A. affords me, I much prefer to sit inside with the noise of the bar or the view of the brewing equipment. Maybe it is something that I should change and I should commune with nature more but my comfort level rises as I am indoors.

So that makes it 2-1 in favor of my drinking not going down due to inclimate weather. But there is another factor at play. The more the temperature dips the more that I start to crave hot beverages. I may like my morning cup of coffee but if I am looking out the window and see the snow, then I gravitate more towards tea or spirits like a whiskey or rum when it comes time to enjoy a beverage.

In the end, it is a wash. The cold giveth and it taketh away.

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