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Less Beer, Please

Alex Fossi, July 23, 2014 -   

The Minnesota Twins are hosting Major League Baseball's All-Star Game this year, which means that they're responsible for creating a Memorable Fan Experience. In order to best provide this, they went back to their brainstorming room, gave it some thought, and concluded that the best way to do this would be to install machines that allow fans to pour themselves up to 48 ounces of beer every fifteen minutes. One can hardly doubt that the results will be memorable, at least.

From a logistical standpoint, I'm not sure I understand the limits they've set here. For one, to get a beer every 15 minutes at a typical baseball game, you'd have to spend half of the game in line, and that's assuming they have 48 ounce cups. If a cup only holds half that and you want to get the full 48 ounces per 15 minutes that you're entitled to, you're basically going to be obtaining a beer and then returning immediately to the back of the line.

Also, it's pretty hard to drink 48 ounces of anything at all in 15 minutes.

Let's account for some beer loss, though. Ballpark steps are designed such that each step is a bit too long to take in a single step but a bit too short to take in two steps, which is the optimal design for causing people to spill some of whatever they're carrying--there goes a few ounces. Then there's the part where people stand up to let you through to your seat, but you still bump into all of them because the pathway is just slightly too narrow, which means you probably lose a little more to spillage. It's best to assume it didn't land on anyone in the row in front of you, but just to be safe, don't look backwards. Then there's the one asshole who won't stand up because he's eating nachos or some bullshit. You're gonna spill some spite beer on his nachos; a nonchalant "whoops!" will really help make sure that gesture carries the appropriate weight.

By the time you get back to your seat, let's assume you're left with 85% of your original total, which means just about 40 ounces. 40 ounces in 15 minutes is still a tall order.

A friend of mine tried to drink 40 ounces of beer in 10 seconds out of a device called a Chuggler one time, and I can tell you that 10 seconds is way, way too short for that. Even 15 minutes is pushing it. However, I suppose the Twins aren't expecting everyone to drink at maximum speed. I worry that this is a little bit like making the speed limit 180 miles per hour and saying "well, no one will actually do that!", but we'll see how it goes.

If you'd rather consider the total amount of beer a fan might drink in one game, they've said that you'll be able to buy vouchers worth up to $50 for these machines. $50 will buy you as much as 125 ounces of beer, as the price is between 38 and 40 cents per ounce. That's quite a lot, even if you're drinking Shock Top's Lemon Shandy (which, yes, that is one of the four options, along with Bud, Bud Lite, and Goose Island 312 Urban Pale Ale). That's more than 10 12-ounce beers in under 7 innings, assuming beer sales are cut off at the seventh-inning stretch as it usually is. That'll take some real commitment (commitment is the correct word, right?).

It's a bit silly to put so much thought into this, I admit. No one's forcing anyone to use these stations, and as Nicholas Campion wrote on Monday, Target Field actually has a fairly strong beer selection. It's a bit irritating, though, because the idea of self-serve beer is something I strongly support. I'd love to be in a bar where I could pour myself 4 ounce portions of beer, rather than committing to 12 or 16 ounces of anything I want to try (and yes, I know about that one bar in San Diego. Please stop sending me things about it. I can't move to California right now). The concept is so great, but they're using it so people can buy 48 ounces of Shock Top at a time.

I was thinking about serving sizes recently because I had a bottle of Bois from The Bruery. I opened the bottle, poured myself a glass, and sat down to watch a baseball game. Nine innings later, I absentmindedly checked the bottle, thinking it would surely be empty or close to it. This thought was horribly inaccurate. I had just finished my first glass of a 25-ounce bottle, and still had over half the beer left.

Now, don't get me wrong--Bois is a great beer. Still, I can't say I was necessarily overjoyed to have so much of it. You might note that I could have poured some out, which is true. However, it was 1) good and 2) expensive, so I really wasn't that interested in dumping any part of the bottle. You might also note that I could share it with friends, which is quite cruel, because it just serves to highlight the fact that I was watching baseball alone on a Friday night and had no one to share a beer with. Thanks!

In all seriousness, I know this isn't a big deal. It's just a little odd that so many expensive, strong beers come in bombers instead of 12 ounce sizes. I know that I wouldn't mind paying a little more per ounce to get a more reasonable serving size. Even if I'm sharing beers with a friend or two, I'd much rather sample five or six different beers in small amounts than have full glasses from a couple bombers. Just like adding self-serve options at bars, having more beers available in 12 ounce sizes would enable us to sample more beers without drinking more beer.

The Bruery Bois

Appearance: Looks like pond water, with quite a bit of tan head. Appears bubbly at first, but that fades quickly and lacing is absent. 3/5

Smell: If you don't like bourbon, you won't like how this smells. I thought it was great, though. Some woody and caramel aromas as well, though these are somewhat overwhelmed by the bourbon. 4.5/5

Taste: Very woody--tastes like you're drinking out of a barrel. You can taste the strength (15% ABV), but it's not unpleasantly fiery--there's enough sweetness to balance out the whiskey and wood flavors. 5/5

Feel: Thick and almost grainy, really lingers on the tongue. Carbonation that was visible on pouring really doesn't come through at all. Dry, warming finish. 4/5

Overall: Hard to rate this one, as I don't have much to compare it to. Some initial unpleasantness with the texture and appearance, but it grew on me as I worked through two glasses. Would certainly have this again, but might find someone to share the next one with. 4/5

You can find Alex on Twitter @AlexanderFossi.

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