The Unique Beer Challenge
A few weeks before July, my buddy Andrew pointed out that he was 25 unique beers ahead of me on Untappd. While I do a pretty good job of checking in the new beers I've tried, I rarely look up my friends profiles. I've got more important things to do. But this sounded like a challenge. So I bet Andrew that I would beat his number of unique check-ins by the end of the month. That is – assuming Andrew does not drink a beer the entire month – I will have to drink 25 new beers just to catch him.
And there is no way Andrew was going to take the month off.
So I knew I just dropped a sizable challenge but I knew 2 things going into this, one which Andrew knew and one which he did not.
1. I was attending a beer festival that he wasn't going to attend. And it was at the end of the month. So if I needed to make a late push, that would be the event to do it. I think checking in a sample of beer is cheap but we didn't establish a rule prohibiting this. Heck, we didn't establish any rules. This was honor code stuff.
2. I had already taken the last week of the month off. If necessary, I would just sit at home that whole week in my underwear crushing random bottles and cans all day until I had surpassed him.
And so the calendar turned and the month began. And as usual, I trotted over to Hops + Crafts to grab a beer or two that evening. Except it hit me when I went to order my first beer just exactly what I had gotten myself into:
Not only could I not drink my favorite beers for a month, I probably couldn't drink my favorite beer styles for a month.
I've already had about ever IPA, APA, PA, DIPA, etc. available in the Middle Tennessee area. And while I sure dig a whole range of styles, the Pale Ale family is my favorite.
So not only that first night at Hops + Crafts but throughout the month, I started going for beers that would be "good enough" to enjoy. I'm not a huge wheat/hefeweizen fan but I drank those. Summer isn't exactly my favorite time for Stouts and Porters. But drink those I did. Belgians? Not a big fan but I drank those. Heck, I think I even forced down some Blue Moon.
But I did get a reprieve from all of this "work" of drinking unique beer.
I caught Bronchitis.
And while I think some science regarding alcohol is whack, I did heed the advice to not have alcohol while on medication. Because what's worse than not having a beer? Having bronchitis any longer than you have to have it.
So while in the first 10 days I made up 5 beers on Andrew, I suddenly had to stop drinking. This was not a secret weapon in my challenge. This was trouble.
But I'm an optimist. I still had a week off of work and a beer fest.
And strangely, Andrew's lead during my 10 days or so of battling bronchitis only grew to about 30.
Towards the end of my bronchial battle, Andrew sent me a text.
"You just saving all your check ins for the 31st?"
While that would be an awesome strategy, the sad truth is that I had no check-ins for over a week. I had one whole beer in an 11 day period.
But Andrew suddenly got busy too. He had a bunch of work pile up and couldn't' just sit back and drink all day.
I finally kicked the bronchitis and I got back to the task at hand – not just catching up on the ground I had lost to Andrew but ultimately passing him. But now I only had about 10 days to do it instead of 30.
I also slightly changed my approach. It made ordering a beer more difficult but I was able to drink a lot more beers that I genuinely like.
For example, I was at Three Crow one evening. I took their beer menu and started verifying every beer on the menu against my Untappd check-ins. Son of a gun. I'd never checked in a Dale's Pale! Discovering that was like Christmas. Here is a great beer and now I get to enjoy one instead of having to settle for something not my style. So sure, it took 5 minutes everytime I had to order to figure out what my next beer was going to be but I was able to find some beers that I totally enjoy were still an available option. It's the little things that make life so sweet, right?
So let's just jump ahead to the end. How did I do and who won?
Technically, I lost. Andrew ended up about 5 beers ahead of me at the end of the month. I didn't check in a single beer at the beer fest. It's just feels like cheating to me.
Toward the end of my bronchitis I was about 30 beers behind and in the end I was only 5 back. I drank 25 more "new" beers that month than Andrew did. So I've got that going for me.
I met up with Andrew at the end of the month. He had the same complaint I did. "I can't drink any beer that I really enjoy. Towards the end this challenge quit being fun".
If you want to see where I am now, check out my Untappd profile at https://untappd.com/user/flinchbot