Session Impression

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Recently I was reading another Blog about ‘session-ability‘.   This is a new-age marketing term (actually stolen from the past) used to describe the drinking or consumption characteristics of certain Craft beers.   The blog itself, if you’re beer drinker, is very engaging.

Read it here.

Before I give my thoughts on what a ‘sessionable’ beer might really mean to us, let’s examine a few more beer marketing terms and notions.

Drinkable – if your beer is drinkable, I suppose that means that you can, you know, drink it.  Or drink lots of it, I guess.

Less-filling – if your beer is less filling, it would mean you may not be as bloated if you drink a whole bunch of it.  It still fills your bladder, however.

Cold-filtered – many beers are filtered to get out the crap and junk you wouldn’t want to drink, like impurities, bacteria or gunk.  Interesting how the industry is using their mandate to not poison us as a term to make their beer somehow more desirable. Here’s picture from Wikipedia showing some of the stuff filtered from beer, during the brewing process:

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Just like any other product, brewers use stories, imagery, feelings and brand identification to sell their products.  They want to convince you to be thirsty and to be loyal to their brand and to drink lots of their beer.

Sessionable !  A beer is sessionable if you can drink lots of it and it doesn’t distract too much from the activity or conversation you are doing concurrent to drinking.  And, it may have a slightly reduced alcohol-content from a regular strength beer, such that you can engage in a longer session – drinking lots and lots of beer.

Maybe it’s just me, but the last time I managed to limit myself to one or two beers, instead of a whole epic ‘session’, I enjoyed it a lot more.  In fact, I have a tendency to regret anything epic I do in regards to alcohol, and I presume that is a fairly common feeling.

Beer glass photo by Rob Nyugen, via Creative Commons. No changes.

Generational Sobriety

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Never one to fear a new trend here at Thirst, we are happy to examine the neo-choice, the pendulum swing of the world, as captured in the infotainment of mass media.

Shedding light into the generational darkness, we have an article from The Globe and Mail extolling the highlights of chosen sobriety. Teetotalism appears to be the new fashion, perhaps for a few select famous persons, and perhaps among the young of legal drinking age.  We have millennials, who instead of sloshing around in the gutters of a block party as the rest of us did, instead seem to want to highlight their Jack Lalanne-esque power-juicing, selfie-on-Machu Piccu, yoga-enhanced lives, in contrary action to us Gen-X’ers.  They’ve got better things to do.

And evidently if your existence runs contemporary to Douglas Coupland, you never met a frothy, triple-hopped, watermelon-infused brew you didn’t want to stay home to drink.  We love that stuff!  Bring on the Sawdust City and Lake of Bays, baby, we’re ready to sip the suds and lose our flexibility in middle age.

Yes, us Gen-X folk, significantly later than previous generations (whom we envy) and the later generations (whom we mildly despise), we – the wanton and wild lost boys of the fall of Saigonwe are finally coming into enough job security to generate the disposable income to facilitate the ordering of beer online from the LCBO and to have it delivered by a mailperson right to our front door.  Oh yes, the day so cometh.

That’s not a good thing from a health perspective, if you ask the public health nurse😦

Meantime, the younger set has a different set of values and I’ll assume it’s partly motivated by the conscious self-reverence of youth in bloom, and the docu-culture that compounds it.  Social media has made private lives into public spectacle, and drunkenness isn’t as rave as it used to be.   That’s actually a good thing from a health perspective, if you ask the public health nurse🙂

While it’s difficult to appreciate the guy standing in front of you at a concert who would rather video the whole thing on his phone than actually, you know, be there….if he’s choosing to be high on life than on Bud Light, then heck, more power to his Android batteries.

Photo by Ginny, via Creative Commons. No changes. 

PONG !!

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No, not that Pong.  This Pong:

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Beer Pong.  You know, that game involving ping pong balls and Solo cups and lotsa heavy drinking.

And we can find beer pong ‘kits’ and other drinking paraphernalia at local grocery stores and big box (department) stores that sell beer as an extension of their grocery department.  Funnels or beer ‘bongs’.  Drinking games. Other fun stuff.  All to encourage mass consumption and intoxication.

People love it so much, they’ve built interactive, electronic beer pong tables, as covered by the CBC.

Maybe it’s just me, but it seems a tad irresponsible to be marketing Beer Pong and the tools of crazy drunkenness in the same place they sell toys, cheese and baby clothes.  We have children, many of whom that cannot discern between colorful things meant for amusement or more nefarious activities, that are going to get the wrong impression.

Deliver Us…

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The Toronto Star reports that the LCBO has opened up their retailing business to include selling alcoholic beverages on-line, along with the option of home delivery (by Canada Post, it seems, oddly), or delivery to an LCBO store of choice.

This will, of course, allow for the selection of many products that cannot normally be stocked in bricks-and-mortar locations, where shelf space is limited.  Meantime, virtual listings can allow for the ordering of obscure or less popular products that live only at warehouses.

Modernization.  That’s the new-age standard for alcohol.   Such modern mechanisms of e-commerce will likely allow for small brewers and small vintners – such as little guys in Ontario, BC and Quebec – to carve out a market for their products, where the old-fashioned way of getting stuff onto the shelves of The Beer Store or the LCBO just wasn’t or isn’t feasible.

Now, home delivery isn’t new.  Private companies have been offering beer, wine and liquor delivery for many years, in places like Toronto, Barrie and other cities throughout Ontario.  Now it’s just one of the big guns wading into the same business.  Maybe The Beer Store will follow suit with a phone service for home delivery – just like ordering a pizza.

Unfortunately, beer isn’t pizza.  While I don’t fault any little brewer for trying to peddle his wares, it remains that pizza on the average, doesn’t cause seven types of cancer…or cause folks to get violent…or act as a catalyst for accidental pregnancy.

Alcohol is not a regular, everyday commodity, like pizza or pens or popcorn.  Alcohol is a very special thing, that needs to be governed in a way that respects its potential for harm.   Ultra-convenient alcohol seems to me the opposite.

 

A Brave New Way Home

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As the Toronto Star reported last year, there is no lack of controversy as the Way Home festival hits the Orillia area.   This is massive music festival coming to Burl’s Creek, a big open-ground event center, just north of the city.

Complaints from local citizens include the volume of the music, zoning violations when the grounds are used for camping, the re-purposing of prime farmland, garbage, traffic, and other problems.  Essentially, the controversy has been rolling since the property was purchased by its new owners and enlarged.  Check out the highlights from last year:

What’s more, there’s Boots and Hearts, a huge country music festival that comes in August.  Check out the ‘movie trailer’-style video:

Obviously, these are gigantic parties.  Whether or not local citizens are happy with the events in their backyards, it’s obvious that mass gatherings are places for much raucous behavior, drinking and debauchery.  There wouldn’t be much fun at these types of events if those elements were missing.  But yet, we know that alcohol is a BIG part of the down and dirty, and wherever alcohol lives in mass quantities, we have the potential for harm.   Violence, injury, overdose.

This raises the larger issue as to where where social and individual responsibility meet in regards to alcohol.  Do the consequences of consumption belong exclusively to the drinker, or do they also belong to the planners and organizers of the social context, where alcohol is deeply embedded and entrenched?

Yo Ho ! There be warnings ahead

 

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There are rumblings from the far side o’ the future that we may end up with warning labels on our alcoholic beverages.   Which might be interesting, considering there is advocacy for nutrition labels as well.  You know – highlighting all those ’empty calories’ – energy without nutrition.

I am no expert on the law, but considering what I do know about legislation, I’ll guess the reason you have a listing of ingredients and calories on a Pizza Pop  but not on a beer…is because, legally speaking, beer is not Food !  Food has the potential to provide your body with important sustenance, vitamins, protein.  Whereas beer is….well, you know what beer is.

Labels to better enrich our understanding of what we are getting up to and in to when we drink has been studied, such as in the video above from Global News.  If certain advocacy groups succeed (such as health agencies who want you to live long and prosper) – you’ll be see labels like the ones below, as highlighted by CTV.

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The question is whether these kinds of labels are effective in changing drinking behaviors.  I think it’s fair to say that they raise awareness about the issue, as they are so graphic as to be unavoidable and unmistakable.

But they would be just one piece of a change in our social philosophy regarding alcohol – where it begins with more persons working to have more non-drinking days, as part of the Low Risk Drinking Guidelines.

 

Political Guide to Getting DeBunked

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We’re all for debunking myths here at Thirst. And maybe there’s a perception about alcohol that it’s universally available here in Canada, or certainly that it’s more broadly available than ever before.  Maybe.  Maybe not.

And certainly, we may not all know how much variance there is in pricing from province to province.  Maybe you think it’s all the same.  It isn’t.

From a fairly light exploration of Canada’s drinking laws on Narcity.com, see above a map illustrating variations in the selling points of alcohol, across the territories and provinces.   You can see that booze isn’t even available in Nunavut, and if you wanted a beer, you’d have to order it by mail… and that Alberta has private liquor stores.  A big difference in approach from Ontario!

What’s more, you can see on an interactive map from the.Loop that in addition to different places, there are also very different prices.  In fact, beer is so much cheaper in Quebec that some persons have taken to making ‘runs’ to buy big quantities and bringing it back to their home province.   This from a more serious discussion on CBC news,  illuminating details on recent discussions about inter-provincial laws as they relate to alcohol.

Make no mistake – booze is big business, and these variations represent the market forces of large industries and other interests. Any thoughts to the contrary are a myth, indeed.

Perhaps if we as a society viewed alcohol as something potentially very harmful that needed to be managed instead of a commodity that needed to be sold, the rules would be different.  On that note, see the chart below, illustrating the harms (disease/dependence/injuries/violence) of alcohol as compared to other drugs…an eye opener!

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