Friday, August 24, 2007

Don't Enable this Drunken Monkey

This being Brew at the Zoo week, I had the perfect post for this blog. Then I went over to Roger Baylor's blog, The Potable Curmudgeon, and realized he beat me to it. For those of you who have not seen the "Bear eats man at zoo's beer fest" here is the link.

Bear eats drunk guy

But not to be totally scooped, I see your man eaten by bear and raise you one violent alcoholic monkey.

never trust The Sober Brewer
Jerry Gnagy

Sunday, August 19, 2007

A Practical Guide to Drinking On the Job

I'm sitting here in front of my laptop at work trying to think of something interesting to write about, and I'm drawing a blank. After giving you such ground-breaking , hard hitting, Pulitzer prize type posts, I know I can't just settle for linking some article about beer in history,sports or politics. So I decided that I needed some inspiration...some liquid inspiration, so without a second thought I walk 40 paces to the bar and pour me a tall, cold one. On the way I look over and see some poor shulb at the bar in his suit and tie looking longingly at my glass of malty goodness, whilst he sips at his diet coke. That's when it hits me, I'm one of the lucky people that can overtly, drink on the job. Now, I don't mean to wave this in the face of cubicle dwellers, on the contrary my purpose today is to help you experience the kind of freedom and satisfaction that can be gained by drinking on the job.

First let's talk about who can benefit the most from drinking on the job:
  1. Doctors--I know what you're thinking, doctors have to remain alert and have each brain cell functioning at peak performance. Well I say hogwash, doctors had beer for breakfast and martinis for lunch years ago, it was said that the alcohol steadied the surgeon's hand. I have no scientific evidence that this is true, but it sounds good to me. I did find a Canadian researcher, Psychologist Catherine Ortner, who found that students who had been given alcoholic drinks showed better judgment than those on soft drinks. I must ask, don't we want our physicians to have better judgment? Only the falsely pious tea-totaller would argue against that.
  2. Judges/Lawyers--Judges of course should drink for better judgment(see#1 doctors). Plus with those long, loose fitting robes, you can pretty much hide a keg under there. As for lawyers they definitely have to drink just to live with themselves
  3. Law Enforcement--Odd hours, stress, the looming fear that each day could be the day you get bumped off by fleeing miscreants or punk drug-addicts. They deserve a beer! Besides they run little risk of being nabbed by the long arm of the law, since they are the law.
  4. Service Industry Workers--Putting up with irate, overbearing, demanding, non-tipping jerks can be made more tolerable only by putting on the liquor induced happy face. Fortunately we don't have a single jerk come to BBC so it's not necessary here. But if you don't love the products you're selling, how can you be trusted?
  5. Performers/Artists--Look at all the great artists, Van Gogh, Caravaggio, Rothko, you will find a bunch of drunken slackers Am I suggesting becoming a drunk will make you a great artist? Yes I am. At the very least, you will stop caring so much about becoming great. This goes for actors as well, all the greats were drunk, Orson Wells, Robert Downy Jr., Lindsey Lohan. I rest my case.
  6. Clowns/Buskers--To deal with screeching children, pancake make-up and the annoying squeaking sound tying all those balloon animals, you had better be drinking something. And until we walk a mile in those size 47 clown shoes, who are we to judge?
These are just some examples of jobs where drinking during working hours should be not only allowed but embraced and encouraged. If I didn't mention the line of work you are in, don't worry, your job probably also qualifies, just ask yourself if you job fits any or all of the main criteria: 1) long or irregular hours 2) dealing with annoying people 3) some form of labor

Now we should probably talk about the rare exceptions, the professions that I will not approve of drinking on the job.
  1. Pilots--Not really because they can crash and kill us, but because I just don't need the delay from some pilot late for the flight because he drank too many yards at the airport bar causing him to deplane for a potty break. For what it's worth I think flight attendants should be able to drink all they want.
  2. School Bus Drivers--Why? Because I believe the children are our future, teach them well and ...yada, yada.
  3. Barbers--A dude with scissors less than an inch from my head needs all his faculties about him. I know to most folks this doesn't jibe with doctors being able to drink, but you just don't understand how important my hair is to me. Without my thick, luxurious, wavy hair, I would be nothing. So Barber...No drink for you!
  4. Politicians--How else can we git rid of Ted Kennedy?
  5. Jugglers--This is a clarification for the clowns/buskers. If your act includes juggling sharp or flaming objects, then you cannot drink. We just don't want to see you fail. Same goes for lion tamers.
Now that we have established just who is eligible to drink at work, now let's establish some innovative ways to get it done.
  1. The Coffee Cup--Come to work with a mug clearly labeled COFFEE. People will naturally assume that the contents are just that. Only you and I will know that it is really filled with hooch. Occasionally blow across the top pretending to cool it down, this enhances the effectiveness of the scam.
  2. Sports Drink Bottle--A little more tricky than the coffee since most bottles are clear. You might want to add a mix of fruit juice and clear spirit, since beer and bourbon don't have a very "sporty" appearance. This is also good if you sweat a lot when you drink, people will probably think you just returned from your mid-day workout. Suckers
  3. The Aftershave Cover-up--Drink whatever you want but wear so much Old Spice people start tearing up within 10 feet of you. Even the most rancid alcoholic beverage won't be able to be detected through your toxic cologne cloud.
  4. The Loaded Fruit--No, I'm not talking about Cameron after he gets a few beers in him. I'm talking about injecting an orange or grapefruit with vodka. When you need a boost just eat the fruit. If some health nut sees you peeling and asks for a piece, just smell the fruit, proclaim that it has turned sour and throw it away. Then try suggestions 1-3.
  5. Become the Irreplaceable Employee--This can be quite difficult to accomplish but if you can become too valuable to fire, you will be able to walk through the office completely loaded, with a bottle of Early Times hanging from your hip and no one will dare bother you. I don't know how you can get to this point but I'm sure pictures of your boss in compromising situations can help make this happen.
I hope this helps open up a whole new world for you drinkers who have a working problem.*

never trust The Sober Brewer
Jerry Gnagy

*I am not responsible for anything that happens if you take this seriously.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Don't Drink and Drive: You Can't Afford Either

Recently there has been a number of articles written about the rising prices of beer, most of which has attributed to the increase to the rising prices of grain. In the past year the price of beer has increased 3% on the shelves and 3.8% at bars and restaurants. At the same time barley prices have risen by 17% to the highest level in 11 years, and malted barley, which is the main ingredient in beer, has risen by 9%.

One reason for the increased price of barley is that with the increased demand for fuel, not just in this country but worldwide, ethanol production has increased rapidly. Consequently, the demand for the corn used for ethanol production has risen sharply, thereby sending the price of corn soaring. The high corn prices cause farmers to plant more corn so as to take advantage of the higher price. What happens when more and more acres are devoted to growing corn? Less acres are available for other crops, hence barley production has fallen, shortening supply and driving the price up.

I began researching for this post ready to find that the increased ethanol production was responsible for the rising beer price. But then I realized that the increased cost of barley malt only adds about 5 cents to the cost to produce a barrel (31 gallons) of beer. Where the real cost increase is coming from is the rising price of fuel, and energy in general. The price of shipping malt to our brewery has increased much more than the price of a bag of barley malt. Add in other fuel costs that get passed down to the brewery and on to you the customer such as farm equipment, transporting grain to and from malting houses and the energy used during the brewing process itself. Let alone the costs of a packaging brewery, with increases in glass bottle, cardboard, carriers and distribution. You can make a better case that rising energy costs have a much more profound effect on beer prices than rising barley prices. The jury is still out on the feasibility of ethanol as an alternative energy source, but if energy costs can be brought down by the increased ethanol production, it would be more effective in lowering the cost of producing beer than if barley prices tumbled.

I did leave out the largest cost component of beer. Taxes. Both federal and state taxes make up almost half of what it costs us to produce beer. Unfortunately, it's more likely that gas prices will drop to a dime a gallon, or I'll start growing barley malt on my bald spot than the tax on beer will be reduced.

never trust The Sober Brewer
Jerry Gnagy

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Dunking Dionysus: An Origin of Beer Gaming

Recently I came across an interesting piece of information in Tom Standage's book A History of the World in 6 Glasses. Standage was writing about the Greek wine drinking party called a symposion. During these symposia, regarded as the pinnacle of social sophistication by their usually all-male aristocratic attendees, the Greeks played perhaps, the first drinking game. The name of the game was kottabos, which involved flicking the last remaining drops of wine from one's cup at a specific target. The target would vary but some flicked wine at another person, a disk -shaped bronze target (an example is on display at the Speed Art Museum) or even a cup floating in a bowl of water, with the aim of sinking it.

I can't help but think that this kottabos was the genesis of "Dunk the Duchess" a beer drinking game I played in my college years and which I'm sure someone may be playing right now. I'll quickly run down how Dunk the Duchess is played. To begin, players need two full pitchers of beer and one glass per person, plus one extra glass. Float the extra glass in one of the pitchers (Pilsner-style glasses work best). Players then fill their glasses from the second pitcher and take turns pouring beer into the floating glass. Each player is responsible for the glass for five seconds after he pours. After the five second count, the glass becomes the responsibility of the next player. Thus, the perfect pour is one that causes the glass to sink in six seconds, thereby screwing the next player before he has time to pour. The player who sends the glass to the bottom of the pitcher must retrieve it and relieve it of its new found contents.

Sure kottabos and Dunk the Duchess aren't exactly mirror images of each other, but they usually result in the same sort of post-gaming behavior. Going back to Standage's book, as more and more wine was drank, some symposia descended into orgies, and others into violence, as drinkers issued challenges to each other to demonstrate loyalty to their drinking group, or hetaireia. The symposion was sometimes followed by the komos, a from of ritual exhibitionism in which the members of the hetaireia would course through the streets in nocturnal revelry to emphasize the strength and unity of their group. The komos could be good natured but could also lead to violence or vandalism, depending on the state of the participants.

Compare that with our modern day drinking games. As more and more pitchers of beer are drank, the drinking group usually devolves into an all out quest for easy women, a challenge of whose going to pay for pizza delivery and what pranks to play on the poor sap delivering it. And our own version of the komos, streaking across campus and mailbox baseball.

As you can see we haven't deviated very far from the ancient Greeks.

never trust The Sober Brewer
Jerry Gnagy

Training Video 03