04 Dec 2009 @ 9:31 AM 

This post is a contribution to The Session a monthly series of communal blogging. This month’s session, Session #34 is being hosted by Jim at Two Parts Rye. Please be sure to head over there and read what others have posted, as well.

The Session: Beer Blogging Fridays

The topic for this month’s session is one that I’m a little wary of. Stumbling home. It’s something that I’ve done – that we’ve all done – countless times in years of great beer consumption, and I’d hate to promote overconsumption. You should always consume beer in moderation. Why? You’ll enjoy it more. Seriously. But, as it happens, we all tend to enjoy ourselves a little too much from time to time, and this topic makes me think of a particular story on what I consider my one shot at a Herculean drinking effort. So: Story time.

I used to live in Boston. Allston, to be exact. I made three moves in three years and all of them kept me within a few blocks of what is now my favorite bar in the entire world, the Sunset Grill and Tap. I’ve probably spent thousands of dollars there. It was where I really learned to appreciate beer, and I can’t make a trip back – or even through Boston – without stopping there for a pint.

One night in mid-spring, a very dear friend of mine called me up. She was in business school at the time at MIT. She was on her way down to the Sunset with a couple of her colleagues and she asked me if I would please meet her at the Sunset so that I could drink them under the table. I’m not sure exactly what prompted the request. Apparently she felt like they needed to be taken down a peg in this regard, and I was happy to oblige. She was my drinking buddy.
0.6 miles in 90 minutes.  You do the math.
The Sunset, at the time, was serving yards. (I’m under the impression that they are doing so again, but for a while they had stopped due to breakage.) A yard glass, if you’re not familiar, is about 3 feet tall. It holds a significant amount of liquid (though not as much as you might think -part of it is very skinny), about 2.5 pints – or 1.25 quarts. Wikipedia might tell you that there’s some sort of pub game in which you attempt to drink a full yard as quickly as possible without getting yourself soaked with beer, but I can assure that it is no game. The reason that you try to drink it as quickly as possible is because if you don’t you’ve got a big bulb of warm beer at the bottom and it’s just not very good. Drinking it without spilling isn’t nearly as difficult as they make it out to be, it just takes a little patience.

Quick side story: I always used to love watching people get yards of blueberry beer at the Sunset. The Sunset, like Boston Beer Works, serves their blueberry beers with a garnish of fresh blueberries. So in a yard of blueberry beer, there would be like 1/8 cup of blueberries floating up and down this enormous glass. It was really quite a thing to see. What people tended to not think about was the fact that when they were about halfway down their glass – into the skinny part – the blueberries had a tendency to become lodged in the neck of the yard. Smart people would try to stick something down into the neck of the glass to try to break up the obstruction before drinking, other would just lift the glass high above their heads, assuming that, eventually, the weight of the liquid would force the blueberries to become unstuck. What they didn’t think about is that at that time, you had the rest of the liquid in the yard glass quickly rushing toward your face. Sploosh.

These guys had never been to the Sunset before, and had never had a yard before, and were a little boastful about how much they could put back. At the time, I had been drinking yards at the Sunset for almost three years, and I had a pretty good working knowledge of what my limit was, but also what to drink to maximize my limit. Yards of Strongbow Cider, I found, were always easy to manage. My theory at the time was that there was more water in them, so I didn’t get as dehydrated. I now know that that’s ludicrous, but I wonder now if it had something to do with sugar content. This is where the Belgians, I think, would talk about how “digestable” the beer is. Dry cider, I would say, is extremely digestable.

We got a table in the basement at the Sunset. A nice place to sit with yards, because there wasn’t very much traffic for you to swing a yard glass into and you essentially had your own bathroom (because 2.5 pints of beer or cider means 2.5 pints of pee at some point).

I’ll be real honest, I don’t remember these guys very well. They were what I would consider to be your typical kind of business school guys. There are a lot of people who attend business school who I think are very interesting and smart, and I can’t say that I think these guys were those type. They felt like the kind of guys who were getting their MBA as a get rich quick scheme.

We had food, and our first yard. They were impressed with the yards, but didn’t seem daunted, and we all ate some appetizers and finished off our yards fairly swiftly. They were drinking beer – I forget what kind – I was drinking cider. The second yard came with our main courses – though I had only had another appetizer (oh Sunset wings, how I miss you). We finished them off with our food. For “dessert” we made another drink order. They switched down to pints. “Too full,” they said, for another yard. I had another yard of cider.

I’m not sure how long we stayed there nursing our drinks, but I remember everybody being pretty sloppy by the time I ordered my fourth and final yard — which I finished, while they failed to make it through their last pints of beer.

One gallon and one quart of cider later (for me), we called it a night. I remember thinking that I was holding myself very well while we walked upstairs and out onto the sidewalk. I didn’t want to show quite how drunk I was. I hung out with them while they grabbed a cab back to Cambridge, and I started my walk home.

The walk from my apartment/house at the time to the Sunset generally took me about 7 minutes. My place was just a few blocks away behind Twin Donuts. It was close enough that I never really felt the need to ride my bike there, because it took me more time to find a place to park and lock it than it did to actually just walk.

Somehow – and I really have no recollection how – I managed to cross the busy street that is Harvard Avenue. At that point, once the main danger was over, the relay race began.

Allston’s sidewalks are studded with small trees and lampposts. About every 12 feet or so there is another one, conveniently located in the middle of the sidewalk where it’s a real pain in the ass if the street is crowded or some douchebag is on a bicycle on the sidewalk or something. At the short hours of that morning, however, they were islands of upright happiness.

The trick was this: Wrap yourself around the tree/lamppost/mailbox/passerby nearest to you and peer off into the distance. Somewhere over there, there is another stationary object that is NOT a car or a building. The trick is waiting for it to come into focus. At times, there may be two or three – but do not be fooled! One or more of those objects may not be real, and guessing during a lunge is bad. You must wait for the object to coalesce into one-ness. Then: You move!


Push off from your current object and fling yourself into the night, but concentrate!

Do not lose sight of your object! A momentary loss of concentration and you could be lost in between objects, in a void, and falling… lost! Groping! Looking for something to cling to.

But no! You reach your new tree! Happiness!

It is so wonderful to have a tree in your hands! You love nature.

Actually, this may be a lamppost.

You love lampposts!

It feels so cold on your skin. It’s so nice to put your face against it.

Maybe if you could just close your eyes and slide into the welcoming — NO!

Another lamp-post-tree-thing awaits!

There! In the distance! It can be achieved!

There are two! No! Three! No!

The fog!


It took me an hour and a half to get home that night.

I can’t walk through that part of Allston without counting all of the trees and lampposts as friends, and I hope they think about me and help others along their destinations the way they helped me that night.

Stumbling home: I’d rather not do it. I’d rather ultimately be responsible the whole night through and not flirt with alcohol poisoning at all. But if it’s going to happen, it had at least better be good.

Posted By: erik
Last Edit: 04 Dec 2009 @ 02:18 PM

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