Thursday, June 6, 2013

The Session #76 : Beer Autism

For this month's Session, Glen Humphries at Beer is Your Friend asks to write about beer compulsion.

Lance Rice knows a lot about beer.  He's collected hundreds of beer cans over the last 40 years, and can tell you all about each one of them.   He knows the history of most breweries in the United States, and figures out the malts and hops in a beer after just a few sips.

Remind you of anyone?

Lance has autism.  While estimates suggest as many as 1 in 110 people are currently born with autism, we don't know much about the condition.  We know they have trouble with communication and are uncomfortable in social situations.   Like many with autism, Lance has battled several phobias in his life.  Scientists think autism makes it difficult to control and organize sensory input.   A quiet, well lit room with a few people chatting away is transformed into a raging mosh pit full of strobe lights within the mind of an autistic.  It's thought that to maintain control of their turbulent surroundings, people with autism focus intensely on familiar and comfortable things to find order in their chaotic life.  For Lance, when it's about beer, he's in his comfort zone.  Know someone like that?

Lance is the subject of a movie and book project called "Lance's Brewery Tour" currently seeking funding on Kickstarter.  Many breweries have thrown open their doors to allow Lance the opportunity to see the breweries he could only talk about.   This support seems to come because the project celebrates Lance's autism rather than pities him for it .  As the father of an autistic child, it's a story I support and contributed to on Kickstarter.  And yes, I am writing this to encourage others to back this project if they feel Lance's story deserves a wide audience.

All of us beer geeks have a compulsion at some level with beer.  Perhaps there is a little autism in all of us.

Update:  Yay!  Today, Lance's Brewery Tour was fully funded!

Aaron and Lance Rice discussing their project
at Great Lakes Brewing Company


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