As a general rule, I havenít pushed too hard for numbers. Iíve rated lots of beers because Iím lucky to live in an area with a great selection, plus the Brickskeller does regular tastings which have allowed me to sample dozens of beers I canít get in this area (including Bells, Alesmith, Pizza Port, Hair of the Dog, and plenty of others). Typically, I wind up buying cases of stuff I love (ah, New River Pale Ale, how I love you so), and then I get individual bottles of new stuff to try. Itís a nice combination of old favorites and beer geekiness that works well for me.
Then, on February 7, 2004, Jeffc666 had a birthday party. That night, several of us RB-ers were discussing various topics and I mentioned I was getting in the neighborhood of the magical 1000 beer threshold. My birthday was a little over two months away, and it seemed time to try something different. This time, I decided, Iíd do nothing but push for numbers. By my count, I had 70 days to drink 112 new beers. I thought it would be easy.
This is my story.
<TR><TD>February 16</td> <TD>I formally kick off my hunt by going to Total Wine and More at Landmark in Alexandria, VA. I donít buy beer here because all they have that I havenít tried before is crappy third-world lagers and second-rate micros. I buy a case of 24 different crappy third-world lagers and second-rate micros.</td></tr>
<TR><TD>February 18</td> <TD>My kitchen gets a new sink and counters. I ďcelebrateĒ with a Kingfisher Lager, rather than a Storm King or an Old Horizontal. Not a good move.
Speaking of bad moves, I follow the Kingfisher with a Famosa, a beer from Guatemala. It is the foulest, most disgusting beer ever. Ever. I never thought Bud Light and Cave Creek Chili Beer would have company in the land of 0.5. Rather than foul my new sink, I actually walk outside to dump this in the gutter. On the downhill side of my house, so the Famosa runs away from my property.</td></tr>
<Tr><TD>February 20</td> <TD>Another Wychwood beer. Another series of ďwhy the hell do you stupid British people use clear bottlesĒ questions. Itís like drinking from a lawn mower covered in old cheese.</td></tr>
<TR><TD>February 22</td> <TD>Jeff and his wife come over for dinner, and he brings Ommegang Three Philosophers, Harpoon Abbey Style Ale, and Amsterdam Framboise. Suddenly trying to reach 1000 beers by my birthday party doesnít seem like such a bad idea. I then open the Weyerbacher Hops Infusion he brought, and the whole ďbad ideaĒ concept comes rushing back quickly.</td></TR>
<tr><TD>February 24</td> <TD>I drink Anchor Porter as #900, realizing Iím an idiot for having never tried it up to this point.</td></tr>
<TR><TD>February 26</td> <TD>I rate Cerveza Cristal, and it gets a 4.1. When you add its ratings to the the Flying Dog Tire Bite Golden Ale and Suprema I drank yesterday, that is. Does this mean if I drink one more crappy beer theyíll combined be as good as Dark Lord? My ďAmerican StandardĒ numbers are rising at a disturbingly fast pace.
I begin to tire of the push for ratings.</td></tr>
<TR><TD>March 2</td> <TD>I drink a Lone Star. Listen, Texas, stop being so cocky. Your beer sucks.</td></tr>
<TR><TD>March 5</td> <TD>Anheuser-Busch World Select actually doesnít suck all that bad. Iím actively disappointed by this.</td></tr>
<TR><TD>March 6</td> <TD>A big day. The wife, boy, and I plan to meet Jeff and his wife down at the Founderís Brewpub in Old Town Alexandria. Being that none of us apparently read the papers, none of us have realized that the St. Patrickís Day Parade is held for some stupid reason on March 6, instead of the following weekend. Parking is, to say the least, a challenge. We get to the brewpub, but Jeff and his wife do not. Iíd love to call him, but I donít have his phone number, nor do I have a cell phone, as Iím a primitive. I make a pledge to get a cell phone.
Beer at Founderís is quite good, which is a refreshing change from the food. To use a syllogism, food at Founderís is to good food as Famosa is to Dark Lord. Quarter-inch thick slices of corned beef served cold on a spongy bun is bad, possibly almost as bad as the clearly frozen fish fillets for my wifeís fish and chips. Since it was a St. Patrickís Day menu item and I want to be in the spirit of things, I decide to blame the English for my bad lunch.
Another stop at Total Wine and More gives me a chance to buy more bad lagers, though by carefully checking my ratings I discover a number of decent beers I have not rated. Most excitingly, a slim, perky blonde is handing out samples of Michelob Ultra and Coors Aspen Edge, so I get to try them for free. She explains to me that Aspen Edge was an attempt to make a ďheavierĒ low-carb beer. I somehow refrain from killing her where she stands.
Michelob Ultra is clearly the superior of the two. It gets a 0.7. Getting home, I discover no one else has tried Aspen Edge and, to my great honor, I get to add it to the site, it being my fourth 0.5. Between the parade and the corned beef, itís more or less the highlight of my day up to that point. I reflect on this, yet manage to refrain from cutting my losses and going to bed right then and there.</td></tr>
<TR><TD>March 9</td> <TD>Jeff has a growler of Franklinís One Tonne Imperial IPA which he wants to share. I shoulder the burden. Itís tough, but I must help my fellow man.</td></tr>
<TR><TD>March 10</td> <TD>Iím down in the District for work, and, as a suburbanite who doesnít get down there that often, I decide to take advantage of it by having dinner with Argo0 (Aaron) and Kathy. I meet Aaron at Union Station, which conveniently has a Capital City brewhouse, giving my two quick new beers before we head off to Franklinís brewpub for dinner, where, thanks to a generous sampler platter, I get seven more. I make jokes throughout dinner about how Iím going to be sick the next day.</td></tr>
<TR><TD>March 11</td> <TD>I wake up sick the next day. Oh bitter irony, how I spit in your face.</td></tr>
<TR><TD>March 12</td> <TD>I feel much better. Jeff and I have dinner, then decide to stay up late playing video games. I get home about 4:00 a.m., after perhaps too many hours of Super Monkey Ball 2, Virtua Tennis, and Gauntlet. Sampling included Thomas Hardyís Ale, Alpine Pure Hoppiness, Fish Tale Leviathan, and Unibroue Quelque Chose. It occurs to me that I really, really, really need to start trading, if for no other reason than I need to start paying Jeff back for all his beer.</td></tr>
<Tr><TD>March 14</td> <TD>Lunch at Sweetwater Tavern with Aaron and Kathy. I start coughing a lot. Perhaps staying up until 4 a.m. the day after Iíve been sick wasnít a particularly good idea.</td></tr>
<TR><TD>March 15</td> <TD>I wake up very sick and miss work.</td></tr>
<TR><TD>March 16</td> <TD>See above.</td></tr>
<TR><TD>March 17</td> <TD>See above.</td></tr>
<TR><TD>March 18</td> <TD>Iím stubborn, but not this stubborn. I go to the doctor, and she tells me itís bronchitis. I already knew this, as I used to have it all the time as a kid and I can recognize the taste of it when I cough. Yes, itís really gross.</td></tr>
<TR><TD>March 19</td> <TD>I work from home, as the doctor has told me Iím contagious. I have my first beer in five days.</td></tr>
<TR><TD>March 26</td> <TD>Rogue Imperial Pilsner isnít a pilsner. I donít care whatís on the stupid label. Itís not really relevant to the diary, but I just wanted to make that point one more time.
Have I mentioned Iím getting sick of trying new beers all the time?</td></tr>
<TR><TD>April 1</td> <TD>I drink Sam Adams Light and it really isnít that bad. Not even April Fools. Itís a shame when ďit doesnít suckĒ is a reason for excitement.</td></tr>
<TR><TD>April 3</td> <TD>I do a side-by-side of Weihenstephaner Hefe Weissber and Shiner Hefeweizen. Seriously. Texas. You suck.</td></tr>
<TR><TD>April 7</td> <TD>I reward myself with an old favorite, a bomber of Stone IPA. Itís beautiful. Crisp, citric, hoppy, full, maltyówonderful, wonderful beer. I follow it with J.W. Dundeeís Honey Brown Lager. Iím really, really getting sick of drinking this crap.</td></tr>
<TR><TD>April 8</td> <TD>I open the fridge and stare at Pyramid Apricot Ale for the umpteenth time. Iím not a fan of Pyramid when theyíre not trying to be cute. Iím just not up for it at this point. I get something else. ďSomething elseĒ, in this case, is a Peteís Wicked Strawberry Blonde. Can it get much lower than this?</td></tr>
<TR><TD>April 9</td> <TD>I crack open a bottle of Stone Old Guardian 2004 to celebrate the birth of Jeffís first child. I open the Stone because Jeff has a brother in San Diego and . . . OK, I was just opening it anyways, but Iím trying to think of a way to make it special</td></tr>
<TR><TD>April 10</td> <TD>Less than 15 ratings to go, and Iím looking forward to stopping the mad push for numbers. I make a run to Chevy Chase Liquors and, to mark that Iím about done, I buy 24 beers. 23 are new. The concept of ďstopĒ apparently does not register with me.
Chevy Chase Liquors has a simply amazing selection, hundreds of beers from dozens of countries, as well as loads of beers from around the country that I just canít get right over the border in Virginia. Itís really an amazing place. Iíve lived here for over six years, and itís the first time Iíve ever bothered to go there. The lesson is, as always, Iím an idiot.</td></tr>
<TR><TD>April 11</td> <TD>I try my first beer from New Zealand. Itís like drinking corn. Iím from Iowa, and Iíve never experienced the taste of corn so distinctly. I wouldnít have thought corn would be quite so popular on an island nation. Does the overpowering corn flavor make it seem exotic, perhaps? I imagine that, in some way, New Zealand has excitingly-packaged sports drinks flavored with corn and zucchini, somehow corresponding to the usage of guava, mango, and papaya in beverages here.</td></tr>
<TR><TD>April 13</td> <TD>Aaron confirms that he will be hitting 2000 beers on the night I hit 1000. I might think heís upstaging me, but heís from Washington D.C. itself, so itís not like heís a citizen or anything. I mean, itís practically a colony, right? I wonder if itís legal for me to force him to plant bananas or collect ivory for me.
I have no beer today. I enjoy the break.</td></tr>
<TR><TD>April 15</td> <TD>I open a Zagorka Special, a ďlagerĒ (and I use that term generously) from Bulgaria. Bulgaria is close enough to the Czech Republic where they have absolutely no excuse for making a beer this bad.</td></tr>
<TR><TD>April 16</td> <TD>My 34th birthday. I ring it in with an Allagash Four. Wow.</td></tr>
<TR><TD>April 17</td> <TD>The big day. I sit at 998 ratings, and Aaron has agreed to be at 1998 so we can move towards the goal together. I sample MacTarnahanís Oak Aged IPA for 999. Aaron has an Iron City for 1999.
What is the magic beer? Well, for a major milestone, one should have something special, be it Westvleteren 12, Dogfish Head World Wide Stout, or Dark Lord, one of the greatest beers in the world. Or, on the other hand, you could have the worst beer in the world. The worst beer in the world is, per the raters of Ratebeer, Busch NA. I made the decision that I wanted something truly special for my 1000th ratings and Busch NA is indeed special, albeit in a ďriding the short bus to beer schoolĒ sort of way.
Surprisingly, itís not that bad. ďThat badĒ is a relative term, of course. Busch NA is quite awful, but has its merits. ďIts meritsĒ is also a relative term, but this beer is easily worth a 0.8 in my rating. Busch NAís average rating on Ratebeer is 0.79. Cleary, I am a generous, generous man.
Creepily enough, a friend of mine is driving so she requests to actually drink a Busch NA. As I wasnít planning on making this available for general distribution, it hasnít been chilled and itís at something resembling warm cellar temp. She drinks it. Then drinks another. I think perhaps Rose should never visit again, just on principleís sake.</td></tr>
<TR><TD>April 18</td> <TD>I wake up. This is my first mistake of the day. I lay in bed and reflect that, through the course of the evening, I drank various amounts of New River Pale Ale, Dominion Oak Barrel Stout, MacTarnahanís Oak Aged IPA, Busch NA, Southampton Biere de Mars, Victory Grand Cru, Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier Urbock, Youngís Double Chocolate Stout, Snake River Zonker Stout, Jever, Ramstein Blonde Wheat, and finished up with an entire bottle of Arrogant Bastard.
I further reflect that I rarely drink to excess, and Iím currently reminded of why. Needless to say, I drink no beer this day. As much as the idea appeals to me, I donít actually die from my hangover. Regardless, Iím done, and can get back to my regular beer life.</td></tr></table>
In the end, I feel a minor sense of accomplishment for making 1000 by my chosen date. Did I enjoy it? Not really. I spent far too many evenings opening up my fridge and looking longingly at a Maudite or Troegs Oatmeal Stout, only to turn away and pull out a bottle of Suprema or some other crappy ďlagerĒ. In the end, I just donít understand how people can rate that aggressively. I enjoyed beer less and, frankly, I enjoyed life less. Beer became a chore I endured, rather than one of my passions. The average rating Iíve given over my years on RB is 3.25, but I only gave out a 3.0 over the course of my push. Similarly, my My Beers average is 3.31, meaning I typically drink decent stuff, but it dropped down to 3.06 over the last few months. Statistically speaking, I drank a lot of crap.
Simply put, it was just way the hell too much work. While forcing myself to try new beers was certainly different, it got old really fast, and Iím happy to be back in the arms of beloved IPAs, stouts, and Czech pilsners.
Oh, I took a few days off from beer entirely after I hit 1000. When I got around to having a beer again, I opened up the fridge and got myself something new, Flying Fish Farmhouse Summer Ale.
Hey, I said I was slowing down. Iím not dead or anything. Besides, I can almost hear 1500 calling my name . . .