Monday, June 21, 2010

500 BEERS!!!!!!!

Let's talk about the fallacy of positive instance, perhaps my favorite informal fallacies.  You commits this fallacy when you argue for a conclusion based on one result that conforms with your expectations (a positive instance), while ignoring discrepancies and unfavorable results.  Perhaps the most famous instance of this type of fallacy is trying to demonstrate you have ESP.  So you're sitting at your apartment, thinking of your old friend Spiccoli, who you haven't talked to in five years, and thinking about how great it would be if Spiccoli called.  Just that second your phone rings and its your old friend Spiccoli!  You were just thinking about how it would be cool if he called and he did!  You must be psychic!  False.  This is the fallacy of positive instance.  Think about how many times you thought of an old friend, Spiccoli even, and how many times you thought it would be great if that person called and yet nothing happened.  To prove your ESP, you're relying on one positive instance while ignoring heaps and heaps of contrary evidence.  This is a statistical coincidence.  You do not have ESP.  This type of fallacy also occurs a lot when people talk about "God wanted me to do X" or "God wanted me be at Place Y," because something positive/coincidental occurs.  Here's a good example of that.  Suppose you speak Swahili as a second language.  Suppose you're at an airport and you see a lost little boy.  Turns out this boy does not speak any English, BUT he does speak Swahili.  After talking to him, you find out he's been at the airport, lost all day, trying and failing to communicate with people around him and here you, of all people, sweep in and save this kid, all because you speak Swahili and encounter a kid who needed a Swahili speaker.  It's like God wanted you to be at that airport at that time.  False.  Think about all of the times you've been anywhere and have known Swahili without any remarkable whatsoever happening.  Statistical coincidence.  Ok, ok, ok.  So God may have wanted you to be there, but arguing for it from a positive instance is a silly way to go about it.  You do not have ESP.  You are not a divine tool (ok, maybe you are, I'm just saying that this is not the way to prove it).  You are merely overemphasizing a positive instance while ignoring all of the negative ones.  With that said, Satan wanted me to be at the New York Brewfest.

I'm going to jump in with a spoiler alert here.  I hit my 500.  That's not the story here.  The story here is the devil's hand guiding me to my exact 500th beer.  We'll start at the very beginning.  Brewfest is, well, a brewfest that takes place annually in New York, this year it was on Governors Island.  You pay $55, get a 4 oz tasting glasses (which really holds about 6 to 7 oz) and go from brewer to brewer, sampling their wares.  As you may remember from the rules, so long as the pour isn't super stingy, I get to count each pour as a beer.  Well, when we got there and I started sampling me some beers, I started to feel a little bit cheap about this.  I mean not cheap to the point of not counting them like this, but cheap to the point where I placed upon myself a restriction as a sign of good faith toward the project here.  I knew I had to drink 17 beers to get to 500.  I assumed (correctly) that would I drink more than this.  So as a restriction, I said to myself, I am only going to count up to 17 beers from this place.  For simplicity's sake, I made it the first 17.  This way, I could get my numbers, legibly record the names of the beers I was drinking, and still consume enough beer where I wouldn't feel like recording a 17 was too cheap.

So I start drinking.  I start writing down the names of the beers (I'll post the list in a bit) and when I start to hit 13 or 14, I'm putting serious thought into what my 500th beer should be.  By this point in time, I've made the rounds of the brewfest and had a pretty good idea of what all was there.  I decided I was going to make Brooklyn Brewery's Blast my 500th beer.  Seemed pretty appropriate.  While I have had it before, I thought a Brooklyn brew would be an appropriate 500th and the Blast was the best they had on tap.  So after I down my 16th, I get in line.  And wait.  And wait.  Brooklyn had a HUGE line by this time (seriously, this event was crowded).  I'm about 10 to 20 people away from the front when we hear that all they have left on tap is their Lager.  Perfect!  What could be more appropriate for my 500th beer than the workhorse that brought me so far in this endeavor.  Brooklyn Lager.  The People's Champ.  Forever immortalized as one man's 500th beer of a given year.  As the line dwindles, I eagerly await my turn.

Finally, I find myself at the front of the line, glass in hand, ready for my 500th beer.  The guy from Brooklyn grabs my glass, puts it under the one tap they have remaining, and lets the lager flow.  He hands my glass back to me, filled with delicious, delicious Brooklyn Lager, and then proceeds to shout, "ALL RIGHT!  THAT'S IT!  WE ARE OUT OF BEER!"  My 500th beer shut down the Brooklyn tent at the Brewfest.  My 500th beer consumed was the last Brooklyn Brewery anything to be served on that island at that brewfest.  I should note that at this point in time, the line behind me was still about 40 to 50 people deep.  I was meant to be in that line, at that exact time.  If I were one person back (or if I let my wife get her glass filled first) I would have been S.O.L.  I am but a divine tool of the beer gods.  And that is the 100% true story of my 500th beer.  I recognize it's not the most insane thing to ever happen, but all things considered I thought it was pretty awesome.  Let the record show, it was a Brooklyn Lager.  A Brooklyn Lager I was truly destined to drink.

Here's my list, in order drank, of beers I had at the brewfest.  I had originally planned on taking notes on all of them, but come on, I had beer to drink.  And, so you know, I probably had about 8 to 10 more samples after finishing writing these down, but I stuck with my original convictions and will only count 17.  So without further ado.

1. Defiant Muddy Creek
2. Ommegang Hennepin
3. Middle Ages Syracuse Pale Ale
4. River Horse Belgian Tripel
5. Two Brothers Domaine DuPage
6. Strangford Lough Legbiter Ale
7. Peekskill Vanilla Bourbon Stout
8. Oskar Blues Dales Pale Ale
9. Great South Massive
10. 21st Amendment Live Free or Die IPA
11. Fire Island Light House
12. Weyerbacher Merry Monks
13. Weyerbacher Hops Infusion
14. Peekskills Rosemary
15. Long Ireland Ale
16. Great South Blonde Ambition
17...............Brooklyn Lager

I will say that lest my future biographer stumbles upon my notebook and sees that for my 17th, I wrote down Brooklyn Blast, this occurred because I would write the name of the beer down before I drank it in most cases.  I corrected them on the fly when I didn't get what I anticipated (as you'll note from all of my scribbles and scratching) but I didn't fix that one because I figured I would remember that I drank a Lager.  Sure enough I did!

Well, guys.  We're half way there.  Take my foot we will not make it I do not swear.  I wanted to post an epic reflection on my experiences so far, but you guys have been reading this (I hope).  You know what it's been like.  Pretty easy sometimes.  Pretty difficult at others.  As dumb as this sounds, it has been, I think, a really worth while experience.  While I've drank slightly more than I would have otherwise, I've written WAY more than I would have otherwise, which I think is a net gain.  My experience of sitting down and putting fingers to keys essentially mirrors the drinking.  Pretty easy sometimes.  Pretty difficult at others.  Sometimes I have a lot of fun and write things I'm proud of.  On rare occasions I'll write something I regret (you know, because the writing was awful, not that I think I'm over-sharing or whatever).  But all in all, I wouldn't be doing it if I didn't enjoy it.  Through this first half of drinking, I've began to recognize why most of history's greatest writers have drank.  And hopefully it should be evident to you after reading this whole blog why history's worst writers drink as well.  I'm not even going to put down where I should be.  You all know its way ahead of the game.  I just want this to stand as is for the time being.  And now, to type those powerful but understated words you've all been waiting to see...

Total Beers: 500

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