The Craft Brewers Conference is a lot of fun. This year it was in Philadelphia to which I had never been to before. I like that city. Much like other cities it offers lots of opportunities for bad choices. My bad choices started Monday night. In case you hadn’t inferred, that means I spent an entire day traveling without drinking a single beverage; even on a plane when confronted with those irresistible mini-bottles of liquor.
We warmed up with a reasonable dinner and a few beers at a beer bar called Strangelove’s. Our next step was to meet some representatives from one of our wholesalers. We told them to meet us a place we found on Yelp, Tabu. Tabu, as it turns out, is a gay bar. I never would’ve realized but thankfully Ross and Dane are a bit more worldly than I and identified that while gay bars are some of their favorite places to indulge at, it is probably not the best location for a business meeting so we re-routed to a more appropriate location for a mixed company schmooze. There was something about the excitement of the mix-up and the way the events were unfolding that prompted my inner ‘Frank the Tank’ to come to life and I proceeded to consume everything placed in front of me at a breakneck pace. I probably should stay closer to home. Apparently Philadelphia brings that out in others because I was definitely not the only one who was completely blotted.
Tuesday was reserved for a guided tour by way of bus to three breweries; St. Boniface, Sly Fox and Victory. As it turns out these are just under 2 hours from Philadelphia. One hour and 20 minutes in I break out in sweats. Whether or not having my head down on the stopping and starting and gently swaying bus was helpful I will never know but what I will remember is that you should not assume the bathroom is off limits. After holding back the hangover pukes for a good amount of time which seemed like an eternity, I finally lost the battle. Once the restricted stream of what Dane described as ‘sausage gravy’ escaped from between my index and middle finger I decided I must see if that bathroom was available. Mercifully it was and my body completed the poisonous elimination whilst waking up Ross from his pathetic little baby nap in the back of the bus. Ironically, it wasn’t until I imbibed a fresh round of ale at St. Boniface that I became the just slightly less than pathetic man I usually am. After somewhere between 10 and 20 beers our tour was done we boarded a bus for the Philadelphia Museum of Art. The reception was great fun; wandering around looking at some of the finest art known to man with corn dogs and beer in hand. I may or may not have mooned a photographer in front of the Rocky statue at the base of the museum steps on the way out.
Wednesday, 9 a.m. the conference gets under way. Wednesday, 10:30 a.m. the beer stations at the conference start pouring beer. The post conference activities included a ‘beer and bacon’ event at the Philadelphia Center for Architecture and a trip to Barcade for Chorizo tacos and all the beer and video games you could play. Why Dane and Ross would feel the need to go to the Locust Street Bar and Paddy’s pub after that makes no sense and never will. I would also like to say there was no drinking at the conference but that would be a lie.
Thursday, more day drinking at the conference. Then we go to a an event hosted by our centrifuge supplier. It’s an all you can eat, drink (let’s add in hard alcohol at this one), cigar smoke, gamble and mechanical bull ride. Yes, I was hurting in more ways than six Friday morning. Friday morning I felt terrible so I took a quick pull off the Old Overholt to soothe my aching throat. Damn it.
This is when I swore off alcohol for 30 days then quickly realized that Memorial Day was coming up and revised my plan to avoid alcohol until then.
This is how it went:
May 6 – Old Overholt damn you. But that was early so we’ll call it a win. Resisted booze on the plane, not enough time to want it once I got home. Yay for small wonders.
May 7 – Family day. Natalia cracks a Finger Gun in the evening. Oh. My. God. that looks good. Resisted successfully. Whew.
May 8 – No temptations provided. This is gonna be easy I think.
May 9 – Monday 10 a.m.. Impromptu tasting panel for flavor matching. Really? Less than 3 hours into the work week. Oh well. Remained in very slight moderation.
May 10 – 11 a.m. Another impromptu tasting panel for flavor matching. For the love you guys!! Is this endeavor going to turn into moderating consumption until close to Memorial Day weekend?! Signs are not looking good.
May 11 – No temptations other than literally being surrounded by beer. Success.
May 12 – Rode mountain bikes which goes with beer drinking like peanut butter goes with jelly but it was with my 12 year old son so managed to abstain another day. Friday is tomorrow. This won’t be easy.
May 13 – It’s a blur. What happened? I think I tasted some high five. OK, get off my back. I definitely tasted high five and regrets = less than zero. Shut up.
May 14 – ALRIGHT?! WHAT kind of STUPID idea was this? Seriously, it’s Saturday night and all I want to do is complete my idea of a date with Natalia and unfortunately, beer has become quintessential to completion. Can I just drink a damn beer? It’s 10:16 and success is in question.
May 15 – Full on don’t give a shit failure. Needed some grub for the crew and nothing sounded better than pickled chicken and quinoa salad from the pub. You know what else sounded good from the pub? 509. And it was. Then I had to return some tools to the neighbor and am I going to be the asshole that turns down a social beverage offer? I may be an asshole but I’m not that type. One shitty lager and a finger gun later and I’m thinking this was a really dumb plan but I’ve got something to halfway prove so on with it.
May 16 – Yup. 10 a.m. tasting panel. I kept it within limits, which means I finished my two sample glasses and didn’t help anybody else with theirs. Eight ounces of Irish death while not nothing feels almost like it’s meeting the spirit of my objective.
May 17 – You know the thing about a journal and a bad memory is you really have to keep up on it. Oops. Tie goes to the runner.
May 18 – I was good, wasn’t I? Sure I was.
May 19 – Thanks a lot universe!!! Off we went to have some fun in the mountains, shuttling mountain bikes to the top and ripping down and i catch my pedal on the butt of a downed tree and rip my pedal out of my crank arm on the first lap. Arrrgggghhh!!! Luckily I had cold High Five in a cooler?
May 20 – Eastern Washington Brewfest. Our seminal event for craft beer week. Also our biggest party of the year. I had to m.c. the raffle and i literally am not even remotely entertaining when I’m totally sober. Sure, that might seem sad, but I like to view it as using alcohol as a tool to greater outcomes. And greater outcomes were had. I even had a guy ask me if i made a livingas an m.c. Granted, he was pretty tuned up already, but that was my audience so I’m going to consider it a win and well worth a little more failure on my quest to not drink for less than 30 days after cbc.
May 21 – Bares and Broncs. Oh, forget it.
May 22 – Does 3 ounces of Irish Death count
May 23 – Hi Monday! What’s that, a tasting panel of Irish Death. 9:30 and i already blew it. Again, it’s for a greater purpose; ensuring that all the friends of iron horse get ale of the highest quality and consistency. Then I rode bikes with an old friend and I realized that beer is a critical component. Not only is it tasty, refreshing and perfect in every way, it is also part of a social contract, a way of indicating that we share values and experiences.
May 24 – Nailed it.
May 25 – No good reason to drink today.
May 26 – Too busy preparing for Memorial Day to crack any beers.
What I have discovered through this process is that beer, like most things, should be used responsibly, respected and appreciated for what it is. What happened in Philadelphia was dumb. Sure it was pretty fun while it was happening but the levels of excess did not improve our fun or experience. In fact, it made it less enjoyable due to hangovers and a general malaise that descended upon me from pushing my body to it’s limits. What happened since Philadelphia was good. I made an agreement with myself to carefully consider how much and how often beer drinking was actually appropriate. Is there any good reason to abstain for philosophical reasons? Not that I can see unless that philosophy is to simply use beer responsibly. I have also learned that my job requires a fair amount of consumption, and for that, I am not sad.