The Drunkest I’ve Ever Been: Lost in Portland


So, this one time when two of my favorite folks were in town…I got LOST.

There’s getting lost, being lost, and getting LOST. Getting lost can happen to most anyone, at any time. Being lost and getting LOST, I feel, are reserved for the habitually enthusiastic. Like the time I was shooting for 12th and Ladd and wound up at 28th and Stark with a skid mark all the way down my right arm (from connecting with a van while trying to slow my bike down enough to read a god forsaken street sign). I’d say this counts as being lost. Once I figured out what street I was on I knew where I was. Entirely different from getting LOST.
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Enthusiastic entrepreneur

Sometimes you can take a good thing too far. In college I decided to man the helm of a weekly Wednesday on-campus celebration known as 40s Night. Typically this tradition started during orientation week and served as a way for the freshmen to meet the upper classes in a jovial and quite enthusiastic environment. It would continue throughout the first month of school before petering out as the Portland weather turned sour and everyone became entrenched in classwork. This particular year however, I was taking a semester off. And, through circumstance to be discussed at a later date, was not gainfully employed. Needless to say, I had a fair amount of free time on my hands.

Through the Enthusiast network at our school, I found out that one could obtain 40s of PBR at a very reasonable rate from a liquor distributor on the other side of town. Each week we would scrape together $100 or so, secure a vehicle, and make our pilgrimage.

The first week we were busted by campus security hiding the bottles in a freshman’s first floor room. So for the following week I devised a method of not only keeping the beer hidden, but keeping it cold and mobile at the same time. Every Wednesday we’d secure a large, rolling recycling bin, empty the contents, and line it with a garbage bag. Then we would load in the bottles, surrounding each successive layer with ice. At about 10 pm, after a couple of hours of chilling, we’d roll the thing over to our designated location and open up shop. The cut-rate supplier combined with fair, but inflated pricing allowed for over 100% profit—in no time I would make back the initial investment and then some, drinking for free all the while.

These were some of my happiest times in college. I quickly became know as The-Fucking-Man on campus and made some lifelong friendships with the entering class of that year. Weeks went by and campus authorities started to get annoyed by the Wednesday night complaints from people “trying to study” and who were “getting distracted” by the baudy noise that came from our revelry. Eventually I was told by the class president that the noise was a real problem and we had to do something about it. Rather than take this as a sign that it was time to shut it down, I just moved us to the Student Union where we could close the doors and minimize noise.

A handful more weeks went by and campus emptied out for Fall break. By this time, the administration had really started to put the heat on 40s night and  I was squarely at the center of the issue. I was determined that we should have one last, good run and intended to call the whole thing off when everyone got back. But the damage had been done. One thing led to another and, non-student that I was, I got banned from campus for the remainder of the semester.

Our school had a notoriously forgiving policy towards that type of thing, but I had clearly crossed a line. Naturally, as an Enthusiast, this is a line that I crossed on a handful of other, unrelated occasions in the future, but I did learn a valuable lesson from that first time. No matter how awesome an idea, and how well executed, you can’t fly too close to the sun without getting burned. That said, I was fortunate that even at that high altitude, I managed to only singe my wings, rather than go down in a ball of flame. In the end, I will forever look back on those nights of 40s fondly—as my most successful (drunken) venture to-date.


Case of PBR photo courtesy of 40ozmaltliquor.com.
Recycling bins photo courtesy of Dano, flickr.
No Trespassing photo courtesy of Daquella Manera, flickr.



Beer garden frames

I’ve never fully understood beer gardens. Now, I get the concept of an area or establishment dedicated to drinking: bars, taverns, saloons, etc.—totally on board. But there’s always been something about the beer garden that seemed off to me. Is it because they are open air? Because your beverage options are so limited? I don’t know. The beer garden I attended this weekend did have the added advantage of being private and the type you pay once for to drink as much as you can. Yet I still had my reservations.

It must be my restless nature. While I love beer as much as the next Enthusiast, the idea of a temple dedicated to a singular libation (and often single brand)—without the addition of interactivity to some extent—just doesn’t hold my attention. I need to be challenged by more than the fight against sobriety.

We spent the weekend in Portland at a private event that housed said-beer garden last weekend. I made an appearance all three days with varied success. By Sunday everyone was a bit over-enthused when the garden officially closed at 6:00pm. We wandered around for a while listening to the world’s coolest marching band, and I couldn’t help but notice a strange clanging sound, accompanied by shouts of encouragement, coming from the shuttered area behind the tarp-covered, chain-link fence. I spotted someone I knew and, being an Enthusiast of some notoriety in the community, managed to get us through the hidden back entrance, past fairly stringent security to see what all the commotion was.

I had heard of what I was about to see. I had been told stories that involved blood, sweat, tears and triumph. And I had been told that the tradition was outlawed. What we had been invited into was an annual celebration of post-beer garden keg bowling. An exclusive, non-competitive sport in which nothing but hubris and perhaps a little timé is on the line.

Kegs crashed into each other amidst excited cheers from enthusiastic bystanders. There is nothing like the sound of hollow metal against hollow metal against pavement. It’s fantastic and exciting—and I was trembling, despite the free-flowing IPA.

After surveying an assorted line of people take their shot, I gulped down the remaining ounces in my cup and took hold of the “ball.”  With a heave, I sent steel plowing through the wall of kegs.

It was exhilarating in a way I haven’t felt often since reaching that birthdate after which you must have been born to purchase alcohol. And with the addition of such a unique activity, I finally got it. The beer garden is the ultimate backyard bbq, and keg bowling is the everclear of horseshoes. While I know this experience is rare, I sincerely hope that every Enthusiast gets a chance to step up to the line to take a throw. There is nothing like it—and you’ll never look at a beer garden the same way again.

Photos courtesy of Josey and Rosie