Beer By The Numbers
In addition to its many other positive attributes, beer
provides an excellent source of entertainment for those
who like to play with numbers. For example, numbers
have always been important in the packaging of beer: "4
pack", "6 pack", "12 ounce", "40", "22oz bomber" and
"7oz nip". No other popular product is marketed this
way. No one buys a "2 pack of cornflakes", wine and
spirits are sold by "the bottle", and I've never heard of
anyone counting the slices in a loaf of bread. Beer
drinkers like the preciseness of a definite count, and
even when no number is specified, they know without
thinking that a "case" equals 24, a "growler" contains 64
ounces and a batch of homebrew is equivalent to 5
gallons or 2 cases.
However, beer drinkers can also twist the exact science
of mathematics. For example, "stepping out for a beer"
("a" meaning one), might mean just that. Or it could
mean two, three, or eight!. Any policeman will tell you
that he has never arrested a drunk driver who has had
more than a "couple" ("couple" meaning two) of beers.
Unfortunately for those of us beer lovers who are
responsible, many a staggering drunk has emerged
from his overturned car and responded to the question
"Did you have anything to drink tonight?" with the
slurred answer "just a couple of beers". In such cases a
"couple" could mean twenty.
But real beer geeks who appreciate the beverage for its
many qualities other than a means of getting sloshed
look at its numbers in a more finite, mathematical way.
In our minds a "beer" is one, a "couple" is two, and
"session" means take your pick of any number between
3 and 10.
Beer is an excellent way of learning to count, so let's
start at one. One could be represented by A-1 Beer of
Phoenix, Budweiser, the Big #1, Bass's #1 barleywine,
or Schaefer, 'the one beer to have when you're having
more than one". Counting up, we have Brooklyn's "Local
2" or Boak's "Two Blind Monks". "Three Philosophers",
an excellent brew from Ommegang in Cooperstown,
continues the count as do "Three Floyds", "Three
Horses Pilsner" and Saxer Brewing's "Three Finger Jack".
But definitely the best way to remember the number
three when talking about beer is "Make the Three Ring
Sign....Ask the Man for Ballantine!"
Counting one higher on our beer list are Lancaster's
"Amish 4 Grain Beer", Fredrick's "4 Crown" from
Chicago, and 4 Star Brewing Company of Salt Lake City.
Clipper City's Category 5 Winter Storm Ale from
Baltimore, Cincinnati's "Devil Mountain 5 Malt Ale", and
Diehl's 5 Star Select Pilsner of Defiance , Ohio round out
the first five numbers on the count.
Continuing on we have:
6. Sixpoint Craft Ales, from Brooklyn
7. Seven Springs Beer from Pittsburgh, and James Bond
8.Spearman's Straight Eight of Pensacola and Leffe
Viuelle Cuvee 8, Belgium
9. Nine is best represented by Magic Hat's "#9", but
other nines are Cooperstown's "Nine Man Ale", Du Bois
Brewing's "Cloud Nine", Baltika "Extra 9", and "K-9
Cruiser", a winter offering from Flying Dog.
10. Completing the first ten are "Tru-Blu 10 Star Ale",
Northampton, Pa., Clipper City's "Hang Ten", and "Ten
Springs Ale", from Saratoga.
No beer that I know of has anything to do with "11",
but I well recall my brother Brian, who twenty five years
ago worked part-time in a liquor store and hated the
boss, who was cooking the books on his partner,
leveling the playing field. To show that two could play
that game, Brian sold me approximately 5 cases of
Yuengling's Old German for the eleven dollars I had in
my pocket. Very economical purchase!
12. Counting upwards are Genesee's "Twelve Horse
Ale", and Hook-Norton's "12 Days Christmas Ale".
13-17. Adding the numbers 13 through 17 equals 75,
the number of cents one paid for a Ballantine in Yankee
18. "18K Fox Select" of Oconto, Wisconsin, is an
appropriate beer for this number.
19,20, 21. For a while 19 was the age at which a New
Jersey youth could legally buy a beer, after our
legislators, who apparently couldn't make up their
minds, lowered the legal age from 21 to 18, then raised
it to 19, then grandfathered 20 year olds when they
22. What else but "Castlemaine 22" beer?
23. The number of pint bottles in a case of Straub's I
recently schlepped home from Pennsylvania. When
buying beer in deposit bottles by the case, always open
the case tops to make sure a thirsty truck driver didn't
decide to have one of YOUR beers with HIS lunch.
24. The number of bottles of Straub's I'd have had if
the driver hadn't gotten thirsty.
25. The most beers I've ever consumed in one session.
(that I recall). Possibly more than 25 were downed on
another occasion but 25 seems to be the number after
which one loses count. 25 isn't as bad as it sounds.
After being given the afternoon off by the band officer
of the Quantico Marine Band, four of us repaired to Mike
the Greek's restaurant to have a "couple". The specialty
of the house at Mike's was Pabst Blue Ribbon in tallneck
bottles and in the ensuing ten or so hours many Blue
Ribbons disappeared. (Just over four cases to be
exact). Amazing what one can do at age 22.
After 25 the gaps between the numbers become more
frequent, so we'll just keep counting in numerical order
without worrying about the holes:
28. "EKU 28" Germany
33. The mysterious "33" on every bottle and can of
36. "Altoona 36 Lager" Pennsylvania
39. "Alta 39" Beer Canada
45. "Colt .45" malt liquor and "Dixie 45"
46. Lake Placid "46er" Pale Ale, named for the 46
peaks of the Adirodacks
49. "49er" Pacific Beer California
50. Labatt's "50" Beer
51. "Gold Crest 51" Tennessee
52. "Brew 52" Santa Rosa, California
55. "Pennant 55" Ale Brooklyn
66. "Neptune 66" Ale New York City and "Brew 66"
75. "Hyde Park 75" Beer St. Louis
76. "French 76" malt liquor
82. "Extra Select 82" Beer Chicago
85. "Chevy 85" Cincinnati
92. "Oertel 92" Beer Louisville
93. "Bohemian 93" Beer Illinois
96. "Election 96" Beer New York City
97. "Fox Head 97" Stout Malt Liquor Wisconsin
100. Harpoon's "100 Barrel Series
102. "Brew 102" Los Angeles
103. "103" Beer Detroit
Skipping almost a hundred we resume with two New
199. "Roger Wilco 199" Beer Trenton
279. "279 Special Brew" Hammonton
Another leap of a hundred brings us to:
372. "Magic Hat 372" and then just a short hop to:
400. "Fox Head 400" Beer Waukesha, Wisconsin
500. "Cook's 500" Beer Evansville, Indiana, followed
520. "Ziegler's 520" Beer Beaver Dam, Wisconsin
600. The lesser known "Old English 600" precedes the
inner city favorite:
800. "Old English 800" malt liquor
905. Chicago offered "Gold Brau 905" but was easily
1000. Gettelman's "1000" Beer Milwaukee
An even 1000 would be a nice place to stop counting if
1308.. Quebec's "Kroenenbrau 1308" Beer, but we'll
definitely end the count with:
20,000. "20 Grand Cream Ale" formerly available from
the Red Top Brewery of Cincinnati.
Even Roman numerals are not forgotten in beer
arithmetic. Horlacher's "Brew II", of Allentown,
Pennsylvania, followed by Wagner's "Mark V" of
Columbus, Ohio are lower on the Roman scale than
Maier's (Los Angeles) "Super X" and our own Gaslight's
"X", brewed for their tenth anniversary with ten types of
malt and ten types of hops resulting in 10% alcohol.
Next come Castlemaine's "XL", Ballantine's famous
"XXX" ale and finally "Fox Head XXXX Stout Malt Liquor"
(I guess they figured four X's would sell better than the
"97" mentioned earlier.
Counting sheep is boring! I highly recommend counting
beers as a more interesting alternative. I'm pretty beat
tonight so I'll probably not get too far past the three
ring sign of Ballantine before nodding off, which is fitting
because I've just chosen an XXX Ale for my nightcap!
has to say
and it could
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Beer My Way.........
Beernexus.com proudly presents....DAN HODGE, beer reviewer, historian and raconteur
anything and everything about beer
by Dan Hodge