744 Isn't Too Shabby

The Commander-in-Chief of Draught Board 15, noted
beer writer and great friend, Vince Capano, recently
wrote a piece for BeerNexus about the possibility, joy
and logistics of drinking one thousand different beers
in a year
(One Thousand). The idea arose from another
beer fan testifying on the Internet that it would be no
problem to down a thousand in a year and he even
diminished his chance at success by limiting the
qualification for what equals “a beer”.

The beer fan’s assertion of no problem stimulated
many a Gaslight pub discussion among DB 15 regulars
as to the relative ease of the project and whether or
not it was even possible for a working man to achieve
success under his limitation which defines “a beer” as
one twelve ounce bottle or draught.  This would mean
about 2.7 different beers every single day for one
year. At first glance this doesn’t seem too difficult
because to a true beer geek downing 2.7 beers a day
is far easier, for example, than finding 2.7 speeches in
which a career politician doesn’t lie, a seemingly
impossible task. In fact the prospect of only 2.7 beers
a day is a gloomy outlook indeed. Of course, under the
rules established by our anonymous guzzler, drinking
2.7 a day wouldn’t qualify anyway since the twelve
ounce rule in itself demands at least three.( Unless the
.7 came from a 22 oz. bomber bottle or quart, but
that’s another story).

For a variety of reasons I took the position that it was
an impossible undertaking for a truly eclectic beer
lover. One is that the three a day requirement almost
immediately translates to nine. For example, if I were
to plan an evening of watching the Mets in the World
Series ( very poor planning, there) and figured on
three Brooklyn IPAs during the game, I’d already be
two short by the ninth inning, Brooklyn IPA being very
much like Lay’s Potato Chips…..”Bet ya can’t drink just
one! (or two).” So in that scenario, to keep on pace
and to keep true to my own home consumption habit
of three brews of the same style from the same
brewery, I’d have to drink six more to total three for
the day. Nine is a little much, although a  nightly twelve
pack of even Meisterbrau , was necessary to survive
the last two weeks of both the 2007 and 2008 Mets’

Even if one were to ignore the “three of a kind”
qualifier and simply forge ahead to drink three different
beers each day, there is no allowance for, for example,
for attending a party where only Budweiser is served.
Even if one drank ten, he’d still have to go home and
drink two more different beers, unless he’d had a
couple of Alaskan Smoked Porters or German
Rauchbiers with his bacon and eggs that morning.

Just finding a thousand beers in good condition is no
easy task, and finding a thousand on tap requires a
Herculean effort. If one lives in Pennsylvania where
95% of packaged beer is sold by the case in beer
distributors, it’s impossible, unless you’re Bill Gates.

I decided to prove my point to see how many different
beers I would drink in a year, during my normal daily
routine, which includes beer every day. In no way was I
striving for a thousand even though CIC Capano
beseeched me on more than one occasion, “Come on!
Do you mean to tell me if you had 997 on the final day
you wouldn’t try to find three more to make an even
grand?” To which I replied “No! No! A thousand times
No!” I didn’t want to have to work at this other than
to keep a log of different brews. I made my own rules,
as follows:

1. The twelve ounce thing was out the window. I
deemed that tasting a brew from a sampler sized glass
is fine.

2. The beer, whether a pint, bottle, can or sampler
must be mine. Taking a sip from someone else’s glass
doesn’t count.

3.The packaged version of the same beer is different
from the draught version as is the cask conditioned.

 4. Spitting out a bad beer is okay , as long as it’s
from your own glass.

With these simple rules imprinted on my brain I
started keeping track on October1, 2007 and finished
one year later, during which time I totaled 744
different beers while visiting Austria and Munich,
eighteen brewpubs, one beer dinner and one festival,
all great venues for multiple tastings in one day.

There were thirty beers that I consider to be
outstanding. Of my ten favorites of those it’s not
surprising that nine are draught beers, the only
bottled variety being my own homebrewed
Oktoberfest. I’m prejudiced, of course, but I have no
problem listing it with the other nine, which in no
particular order are Villacher Dunkel, Augustiner
Mullnerbrau, Erdinger Dunkel, Hofbrau Helles, and
Hofbrau Maibock , all enjoyed in Europe and Flying
Bison Dawn Patrol Gold, Gaslight’s March, 2008
Hopfest, Long Valley Jersey fresh Hopped Ale and
Spaten Maibock.

There were four which were undrinkable, and thanks to
my own rule 4, were spat out. The absolute worst was
an ungodly brew, Bud and Clamato,  deviously
supplied to the Cask Commissioners of DB 15 by a
certain unnamed Gaslight brewer, who probably
thought that after we tried that horrible crap, the
Gaslight beers would taste even better. He was right,
even though after a glass of Bud and Clamato, many
drinkers might well opt for a glass of ox urine to
cleanse the palate. Almost as bad was Bud Light and
Lime. Who thinks of this stuff, anyway? Anheuser-
Busch Michelob Ultra Light has the marketers at Poland
Spring hurriedly searching for new ways to combat this
threat to their bottled water sales. Zero taste! A
bottled beer, River Horse ESB, was so bad that at a
party I attended a whole case had to be dumped. It’s
not bad beer, but either the packaging, distribution,
warehousing or retailing too often renders them
undrinkable , due to aging.

One of the last beers I tried was Budweiser American
Ale. The pre-introduction sales campaign made no
reference to the fact that this stuff tastes like
Budweiser with a little food coloring. Maybe, to use a
tactic from A-B’s playbook, in which they sued DuBois
Budweiser and Budvar for marketing the Budweiser
name, Fairfield’s Cricket Hill Brewery should haul A-B
into court for using the “American Ale ”name which
Cricket Hill has been using since it’s inception for it’s
far superior brew. Only those fortunate enough to
have personally witnessed a passionate “brewery tour”
by owner Rick Reed can imagine the likely oration after
emerging victorious over A-B in a lawsuit.

But I digress. Back to the serious business of one
thousand different beers in a year. Teetotalers and
prohibitionists would be aghast at the prospect of ANY
beer in a year, so I guess 744 isn’t too shabby! But
will year two surpass that?


Another two
glasses up
article from
Dan Hodge!
has to say
these things
and it could
only be
2.7 glasses a day
View of Munich from my hotel
View of Austria from
my bar stool
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