What's a beer girl to do? I've drank Cloverleaf's whole Masters of Beer Appreciation program, working on my Professorship in Hops and Drafts. I've completed the Garden State Brewers Guild passport three times now. I've traveled the U.S. for great microbrew, writing about my adventures. I'm part of a beer appreciation club, have been to countless brew festivals, hosted beer tastings and even brewed two medal winners of my own. So, again, what's a beer girl to do? On a recent drinking trip I got to thinking about a challenge a few people in my beer club are participating in. . . a quest so great that I would venture to guess that many have tried, but few have had the stomach (or maybe more appropriately, the liver) to accomplish such a feat! 1,000 unique beers in 365 days! When I shared this new goal with friends and fellow beer lovers, reactions ranged from "You're crazy." to "You're insane!" After the initial shock, here were the five most commonly asked questions. Hopefully, the responses will help anyone looking for a challenge.
"How do you remember them all?" or "Are you writing them all down?"
The math lovers out there have already figured out that 1,000 beers in a year means a participant would have to drink an average of 19 - 20 unique beers a week. Unique beers! These don't include second pints of favorites, free refills from cute bartenders, beers from 'fans' who insist on choosing what brew they send over (guys, why do you do that, anyway?) or whatever swill you suck down at your weekly trivia event at that corner bar with only 6 non- rotating taps. The point? Don't leave it up to memory. I've taken to carrying a little book with me and recording as I go (though even then, I'm sure some will be missed on those extra credit nights). I will recommend though that you tell people you are sitting with what you are working on before you whip out your trusty book, otherwise "Is that your diary?" will be another frequently asked question you may encounter.
"What do you get if you do it?"
Um, you get to try a thousand beers. . .
"Does homebrew count?"
"Does homebrew count?!?" I almost didn't dignify this question with a response. Firstly, beer is beer is beer! Seems obvious to me too, I mean, are the 5 gallons brewed with love on my stove any less worthy of being called 'beer' than something that's 'frost brewed' made in breweries that spill more in a shift than some of my favorite microbreweries brew in a year? Is it any less 'beer' because it's not endorsed by some twins or some horses or because it doesn't have its own fictional taste league? To even suggest such a thing undermines the whole history of brewing! It spits in the face of Egyptian and Sumerian tribes, Trappist Monks, and most importantly, modern homebrewers like me! In our beer competitions, often there are 'commercially available ringers' entered into the tasting just to see what'll happen. Homebrewers like me have beaten them everytime. And, quite homestly, where do you think the brewers making the beer you can go to your average liquor store and purchase got their starts anyhow? Does homebrew count? pfffft Next question!
"Does brewpubs count?"
"What counts as a beer?" or "Do you have to drink the whole bottle / pint?"
The glass or bottle that you are given, whether it's a 101 oz bottle of Mad Elf or a 2 oz sample at a festival. . . it's on your list. If you're feeling social and sharing bottles, or keeping the suds all for yourself, count them toward your thousand. Whether it's from a growler at your local brewpub or from a flight from the same place. . . put them on the list. If you get upgraded to an imperial pint everytime you drink a draft at your local, or if it's the 12 oz bottle you order at that seedy bar where you don't trust the lines . . . you get where I'm going! And at the end of the day, it's not about the rules, it's not about should things count or shouldn't they? If you don't want to count homebrew (though I can't imagine why not) then don't. If you want to count a bottle, a draft and a cask beer with the same name as three different beers, then do. If you want to go traditional and do all your beers as pints. . . go for it. . . just please make sure you get a year-long designated driver. :-)
Recommendations for other thirsty travelers? Want more information for your own upcoming adventure? Let me know! :-)