Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The 1000th Beer: Wherein I Drink My 1000th Beer

I want to start this post off by saying that I am horrible, just absolutely horrible with remembering names.  I mean seriously, I am awful at it.  People, movies, beers, you name it (pun!): I have a hard time remembering names across the board.  I say this because I am going to mention some people by name in this post.  Some people, I know their names because they're either my dad, my wife, or my friends.  Others, I know their names because they signed it for me (we'll get there) or someone handed me a piece of paper with the name written on it so I could make sure I remembered it.  I say all this for one reason: the woman that kick started this whole shocking party, the woman that played an absolutely central role in all of this, and whose contributions I both vividly remember and wildly appreciate, well, I can't for the life of me remember her name and I have been feeling seriously bad about since I got home that evening.  Also, there are some pictures of me in here.  I'm the guy with the striped sweater that you'll see drinking a beer.  It's the second to last post here and I just don't care anymore.  With that said, let's get back to the story, already in progress.

So Liz sees the note on the chalkboard pictured in the previous post.  I see it and think, "Awesome!  How'd they know I would be here?"  I later deduced that I had been tagging the Gate in all of my twitter posts about the event, so they must have seen it there.  Anyway, I figure, awesome, some local recognition!  When I go up to order my thousandth beer, I'll let them know, hey that's me, they'll say awesome and that'll be that.  Well, next thing I know (this is still around 4:45ish), the woman whose name I now forget (again sorry!) goes and changes the chalkboard.  I think she's updating the draft list, but instead I see she puts up an even BIGGER welcome notice, pictured above and to the right.  After I see that, I go up and introduce myself as the 1000 Beer Year Guy.  We chat for a few a minute or two, talking about the past year and all that, then she goes back over to the bar and I think, "Man, that was super nice of her to put that up there," and again think that will be just about all the fanfare associated with the event.

Around 4:45, my friend Mike shows up with his dog and a super awesome sign he made for me to commemorate the event.  That's the sign to the left there, as modeled in my apartment.  It was displayed prominently (and awesomely) that evening on a mantle in the Gate, book-shelfed by two candles placed there by the woman from the Gate, giving it a cool, important atmosphere, but you couldn't really read the lettering in any of the photos I have from the night.  So there it is!  Additionally, Mike thought it would be cool if everyone who came out for the evening signed the back of it (hence where I'm pulling some names from), which was a great idea!  Thanks Mike!  After the sign goes up on the mantle, I see the woman from the Gate (we'll just go with TWFTG for now, sorry!) talking to Pat Fondlier (whose name is signed on the board, hence why I remember it).  I've seen Pat at the Gate a bunch of times, and his beard is the stuff of legends, but I've never actually met him before.  He's the "beermeister," as the above linked article describes him, at the Gate and he also works for Smuttynose which is pretty awesome.  If you've ever been to the Gate, you'll instantly recognize him in the photos below.

Anyway, he comes over and starts talking to me about the whole 1000 beer year project.  Apparently he's read this here blog before, which just about floored me on account of I didn't think anyone but my parents and in-laws actually kept track of this thing, much less actual beer industry people.  We're also talking about why I chose the Gate as the location of my 1000th beer, so here seems like an appropriate place to talk about that.  The Gate may be the best bar in all of New York City.  Not only do they have one of the best tap selections in all of New York, but they also have the best atmosphere in all of New York.  It's kind of weird, I've always thought of the Gate as sort of a destination bar, because the tap selection really is amazing and it's not really in my neighborhood, but it really does have the quintessential "neighborhood bar" feel to it.  Imagine that your neighborhood was filled with really great people that all loved really great beer but weren't in any sense snobby about it.  Well, this is the bar that would be in your neighborhood.  Also, another huge plus is that it has a ton of space.  I've never been there and not gotten a seat.  The Gate is already my favorite bar in the city, but add to that that I wanted a bar with enough space to sit around and talk with my family and friends, and, well, the Gate just had the perfect combination of ingredients.  Also, everyone working there seemed legitimately excited/honored that I'd chose their bar.  I mean this place has some of the biggest beer events in New York and they were excited that some dood with a seldom-read blog was having a beer there.  Amazing.  Also, and I wasn't aware of this before that evening, but the Gate is the type of place where apparently nights like the one I had there can happen, which is always, always a plus.

So we take some pictures in front of the sign (way more picture taking than I anticipated took place! Also, here's where I'd like to thank Dennis Flynn from Stone Brewing for sending me pics he took that evening, including the one up there. And yes, that served two purposes. 1) To legitimately thank Dennis, and 2) To drop that someone from Stone Brewing was at my 1000th beer.  Sue me.  I was excited!) and Pat says he wants to buy my 1000th beer for me and asks what I was thinking of getting.  At this point in time I was down to two options: 1) A 50 oz magnum of 2005 Anchor Christmas Ale or 2) A pint of Wells Bombadier Cask Ale, one of only two casks of that beer in the US, both rare and perfectly worthy beers for the occasion.  Pat says go with the Anchor Christmas Ale, which I was already leaning towards because 1) I could share some with Liz and my dad and that would be nice and 2) It would take a while to drink so people that showed up late could still partake in me drinking the 1000th beer.  So Pat goes over to get the magnum (pictured left) and then TWFTG (again, sorry!  When I'm back at the Gate next time, I'm getting your name, immediately tattooing it on my arm so I don't forget it in transit to my apartment, and going back and putting it in this post), tells me that the owner of the Gate, Bobby Gagnon (I had Pat write his name down for me so I wouldn't forget it, as I am wont to do), told her a few days ago that, while he couldn't make it, he wanted to personally buy my 1000th beer for me.  They were selling that magnum for $35, which would have easily been the most I ever spent on a beer, and Bobby Gagnon buys it for me.  Amazing.  Seriously amazing.  I'll say it again later, but I'll say it here now, thank you, and I mean thank you Bobby Gagnon and the Gate for seriously hooking me up.

So now its 4:55ish, a few others have shown up, more are coming soon.  I've got a note written on the draft list, a giant plaque displayed on a mantle, and a 50 oz magnum of Anchor Christmas Ale which has been cellared from 2005, courtesy of the Gate, waiting for me at the bar.  If you've ever seen a happier man in your life, well, that man must've been pretty damned happy.  I'm waiting till 5:10ish to open that thing, another test of will power, just to make sure everyone who wanted to be there for the 1000th will be there.  At 5:10, the crowd is as follows: my dad, Liz, Mike, Amy, Brian, Dave, Emily, Eric K, Ben, Ali, Larry, Pat, Dennis, and TWFTG, which is about 10 more people than I had anticipated being there.  So, with a crowd (partially pictured above) assembled, I'm ready to do this thing.  I'm going to break it down in slow-mo for you here.

First, Pat comes and opens the magnum 2005 Anchor Christmas Ale.

Then, he pours it in to the mug Liz had made for me for the occasion (it has My 1000 Beer Year 2010 engraved on it, but you can't really see that in the pictures.  But the mug is awesome.  Thanks Liz!) and into a few glasses they brought over for others (my dad and Liz each drank a glass, the other two?  You know it was this guy.)

I make a short speech (not pictured, and largely incoherent.  I'll make a longer and more coherent one both in this post and the wrap-up one).  After the speech, well, there's nothing left to do but drink my 1000th beer!

I take my first gulp and get a nice round of applause from the people in our group.  After that, TWFTG makes an announcement to the whole bar, explaining to them what's going on over there, and I get another round of applause from the whole bar which was pretty cool!  The 2005 Anchor Christmas Ale was delicious.  As anticipated, it took a little while to drink, but not that long, as by that time, all milestones aside, I was pretty thirsty for a beer.  While I'm drinking, a whole host of other people show up including Jessica, Crystal, Eric H, Sam, Christina, Lisa, and Kate.  Check out the plaque with all their signatures!

After about an hour (okay, a little under an hour, in case you haven't noticed, I like drinking beer), I announce my last gulp, receive a nice "here! here!" and proceed to finish off the magnum.  I did it.  I drank 1000 beers.  I know it sounds like a really dumb thing to feel really accomplished about, but I did it, and it felt great (I'll get more in to that in my actual final post).  But yeah, that's the story of my 1000th beer.

To recap, let's compare what I thought the evening was going to be like with what it turned out to be.

What I thought it would be: Me, my dad (and even he was late game addition), Liz, maybe three friends, sitting at a table, me dropping $35 on a beer, quietly drinking it with the few people at my table, patting myself on the back, and absolutely zero fanfare.

What it turned out to be: A party with over 20 people, an amazing beer and unexpected fanfare courtesy of the Gate and Bobby Gagnon, and really, one of the more surprisingly and, frankly, touching nights of my life.  I was always a little nervous about the night of the 1000th.  It seemed like it would be one of those New Years Eve/St. Paddy's Day types of deals where because it's supposed to be a big party and a ton of fun, the hype always ends up making the actual party disappointing.  I didn't want to hype up the 1000th all that much because I didn't want it fall under the weight of expectations.  Well let me say, the night exceeded even my highest of expectations.  I seriously did not expect anything like that.

There are a million thanks to dole out here (Side note, this list of thanks is specifically directed at the people who made the evening.  A more comprehensive list of thanks for the year is coming in the next post, so don't feel left out!)  First, I need to thank Liz, because she was the one who kept on getting on my case about actually setting something up.  Also, thanks to Liz for just about everything else you'd thank a wife for after spending a year drinking 1000 beers.  Second, I need to thank my dad who flew all the way out from Arizona to be there for the 1000th.  He literally flew in at midnight the night before and left the very next morning, all for the culmination of an enterprise that he has supposedly been against all year, and that, as you can imagine, meant a whole lot to me.  Check out the two of us sharing in the 1000th (the glass he's holding has some of the Anchor Christmas ale in there)!

I want to thank all my friends that trekked out in the cold for this event.  I know that most of you still had school and work stuff that you were in the middle of, and that it wasn't in the most convenient location for a lot of you, but I really appreciate you all coming out and making the party what it was.  It really meant a lot to me.  As my dad noted the next morning, I've got a really great group of friends,  Check out a few of you (sorry to those not pictured, I've literally put every pic I have of the evening up here, if you have a pic of you at the event, send it my way and it'll go up here!) with the sign for what's next on my thank-list!

And of course I need to thank everyone at the Gate.  What I expected was an awesome bar at which to quietly enjoy my 1000th beer.  What I got was more than I could have ever imagined.  Not only were you guys amazing hosts for the evening, but you also had the perfect 1000th beer on hand.  Seriously, I can't say enough nice things about how much fun I had there and how much I appreciate everything you guys did for me.

And that's the epic (to me, at least) tale of my thousandth beer.  I've got one more year-wrap-up post in me, but it's not going to go up until after New Years.  We'll let this one digest a little and that'll give me time to make sure my final post is exactly what I want it to be.  But even though this isn't my last post, I'm still a little bummed, as that's the last time I'll be describing drinking a specific beer in 2010.  The beer descriptions never got any better (as is evident from my sole description of my 1000th beer being "delicious"), but I've always enjoyed writing about specific beer drinking experiences, whether it be having a cold one on my couch or at a party with friends and family.  And with that sobfest out of the way, won't you all please raise a glass with me while you read the final instantiation of the ol' two-words-colon-number combination.

Total Beers: 1000


  1. Damn, one more post and then I'll have to find something new (and probably less interesting) to read while procrastinating online! I'm sad I wasn't there, but I can take consolation in making the first comment about this post!

  2. Married… divorced… separated… never together… what does any relationship status have to do with a man's parental duty? Once you’re a father, you're always a father. There is no you in the formula of life anymore. There is always at least one other person standing beside you in that equation. Always. Own that. And never leave that behind.

    Proud to be a Single Dad

  3. Congrats. Now on to the 10,000 Beer Decade? I hope you don't completely abandon your blogging, it has become one of my consistent reads.


  4. Hello brewers, that this Christmas will bring much happiness to all and many beers ...
    Happy Christmas ...........

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  6. you make it sound like 1000 beers/year is something extraordinary... *roll*

  7. Love the blog! We all LOVE our beer! Keep up the great work, I'm sure you are aware that beer is in fact VERY healthy for a person, when consumed in moderation. If you're ever interested in the health benefits of beer and fitness, feel free to visit this pretty cool website: It's got some great fitness tips for beer lovers!