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Drinking Outside the Box

Drinking Outside the Box
Brad Hartsock

I’m going to make a wild assumption that if you’re reading this, you are a regular consumer of the nectar of the gods – beer. That magical elixir washes away the stress of your week on Friday night, forms bonds fleeting and enduring over your favorite sporting events, and creates a jovial (or at least tolerable) atmosphere at a variety of social gatherings like weddings, dinner parties, and the like. There is no doubt that a good beer is welcome, perhaps essential, at these moments. But are they too obvious?

Over the course of my beer drinking career, I’ve had the opportunity and good fortune to enjoy beer in a variety of other situations which can be equally satisfying and often much more so. While these aren’t totally unusual, they certainly aren’t your normal after work ritual but more special occasions. I’m sure you’ll find some that you too have enjoyed, but if you see something new, I can assure you, it’s well worth your time to drink outside the box.

The Shower Beer

Drinking beer is a fantastic way to relax. It’s also a fantastic way to prepare for a night on the town. These are two things held in common with a good, hot shower. Picture yourself on vacation.  You’ve been in the sun all day, caked in sunscreen. You definitely need that shower before you can venture out for dinner or what have you. But you’d kiiiiinda like a beer.  Don’t limit yourself! It’s the ultimate multitasking to simply do both at once. And I can assure you, you’ll feel a lot better getting out than you did getting in. Unless you can literally get a massage while having a beer, this is as relaxing as it gets.

Doing it right – For God’s sake, no glass. This is a can only operation.

The perfect beer – We’re going for refreshment here. You’re favorite lager or pale ale should do nicely. I’m partial to Dale’s Pale Ale courtesy of Oskar Blues.

A touch too far – You’re normal 7 am, pre-work shower is not an ideal time to give this a shot.

Bonus points – Don’t turn off the water until your beer is gone. Enjoy it.

The Flight Connection Beer

Airline travel brings out a special form of hatred in all of us. I don’t know what it is – it could be the snotty customer service, the endless slaughterhouse-like lines, or the complete disregard for personal privacy. However, there is one redeeming factor – you don’t have to drive. There are many theories on why people drink so much, at all times of the day, when they fly, but I think it really comes down to that – you purchased a $500 DD! But I’m not so concerned with the beer that you showed up at the airport a half hour early to drink or what you order on the plane. I’m more interested in the beer that you find in between flights when you know you have a hard deadline by which to find a suitable establishment, consume the beer, and make it to your next flight or else you’re stuck in Cleveland for the night. Bold action is required! Nothing is quite as rewarding as finishing the last gulp, hustling to your gate, and seeing you will be the last person to board.

Doing it right – Since this is an airport, you’re going to get screwed on the price. Do yourself a favor and take any available upgrades to a large 22 oz. beer (and/or the infamous $3 shot).

The perfect beer – This should be carefully tailored to 1) the selection available and 2) the amount of time you have. Downing 22 oz. of IPA and a shot of Wild Turkey in 10 minutes might not be your best bet… or is it? I’ve found recently that many airports offer Goose Island IPA, which is fantastic as a flavorful, consistent but not overly aggressive IPA, lending itself to speedy consumption and enjoyment.

A touch too far – None of this applies to you if you are in fact the pilot on the flight.

Bonus points – Perform the Airport Trifecta: take a shit, drink a beer, and eat (or at least buy) food during a connection of 1 hour or less.

The Morning Beer

As many of us have, I discovered the wonders of alcohol a little before the U.S. of A thought I should. Since then, I’ve followed a fairly common progression of my drinking tendencies. Before 21 it was fun because drinking is fun, but also because there was a little bit of risk involved in doing something illegal. I turned 21 and had a certain period of time where I was completely blown away by my new privileges (take that voting!). Around about 22 – 23, I realized “Hey, I can have beer in my fridge all the time! Not just when I buy 12 and plan to drink all of them!” Through my mid-to late 20’s my choices have become more refined and varied as I’ve learned to appreciate exploring the beer world. Now that’s a responsible progression. But I can’t deny that there is always a little part of me that misses the sweet, innocent depravity that could only found through scheming with my friends to get what we couldn’t have, and then doing what we shouldn’t be doing.

Now, you can’t roll back the clock, but you CAN recapture a little bit of that recklessness. If you’re like me, there are certain “acceptable” times for drinking. Generally after 5pm most days, after noon on the weekends perhaps. But to truly capture the essence of breaking the rules, just skip your coffee and crack open a beer.

Doing it right – Let’s keep things in perspective, another activity like tailgating or a home brewing session should provide a little justification.

The perfect beer – Mikkeller ApS. Beer Geek Breakfast Oatmeal Stout is a great choice. I mean it says it’s for breakfast right on the bottle and coffee is one of the ingredients – who am I to argue?

A touch too far – See points above for The Shower Beer – this should definitely be an exception, not a rule.

Bonus points – Make a delicious breakfast! Remember your college years folks – Kegs and Eggs!

The Music Festival Morning Beer

Take everything I wrote above, and then combine that with the fact that, provided this is day 2 or later, you drank approximately 37 beers the day before (and did God knows what else with it). You’re hungover, but feeling good because you have literally no responsibilities until the festival ends besides having fun with your friends. Nothing will get you back up on the horse like some hair of the dog (and breakfast!)

Doing it right – Spend about 5-10 minutes mulling around the campsite before loudly announcing “Welp. I’m having a beer”. Then ask: Who’s coming with me!

The perfect beer –21st Amendment Brew Free or Die IPA in a can is a great option and scores double for portability and environmental friendliness. (PBR is acceptable depending on the level of your pain upon awakening).

A touch too far – Screw it, you’re at a music festival.

Bonus points – Biscuits. And. Gravy.

The Road/Street Beer

Generally speaking in most US cities it is frowned upon or outright illegal to drink a beer while walking down the street or riding in a car. However, there are a few mythical lands here and abroad where one or both might in fact be legal – I’m looking at you Las Vegas, New Orleans, and… Erie, PA? Part of the allure of these vacation destinations is just that – do what you want!  The cops won’t do anything! It’s a clear cut case of when in Rome. This is essentially the reverse of my point about drinking underage – sometimes there is a novelty to actually following the law. Full disclosure, I’m not a lawyer, so I haven’t actually looked into the statutes governing these things so it might be worth doing some research if you’re headed to, say, Germany, but why pass up the opportunity if it’s staring you in the face?

Doing it right – Present each of your traveling partners a crisp, cold beer as you depart a location and simply say to each one “Road beer!” This should resemble a militia getting their weapons when the air raid sirens go off.

The perfect beer – You’re enjoying this unique situation because of where you are, support a local brew. New Orleans = Dixie or Abita, Las Vegas = one of those yard things (I know it’s not a real beer, but nothing in Las Vegas is real), Erie = well, I’ve never been but the Erie Brewing Company looks awfully tempting.

A touch too far – Regarding the Road Beer in particular, it’s not recommended that the driver participate. And although it might seems like a bar on the street, remember there is no bathroom on the street – plan accordingly.

Bonus Points – For New Orleans only, buy a beer from a location with a man holding a sign that says “Big Ass Beers” then make small talk with a mounted police officer while you drink it.

As you can see, there are many opportunities in life to have a beer outside of Tuesday night Trivia and this list doesn’t even begin to cover the possibilities. If you find yourself thinking “Hey it might be fun to drink a beer in each country while I’m visiting EPCOT” or “Wouldn’t it be impressive if I were drinking a beer while I’m riding this mechanical bull” I strongly recommend you act on those thoughts. Beer should enhance our enjoyment of life no matter the occasion, so I hope this inspires some great new ideas and accompanying stories.

Now get out there, and drink some beer.


  1. Truly an A-1, spot-on article on the subject of creative consumption. Recent cold snap across U.S. also suggests another “outside the box” experience: When it drops to about 2 degrees outside, you can pull a beer right out of your parka and have a cold one. No cooler required. Just don’t put your tongue on the can! –M.L.

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