Sunday, September 27, 2009

Days of Beer 3: The Age of Found Beer

The Tuborg sanction marked the end of a carefree era. As they say, “it’s all fun and games until someone drinks a Tuborg.” But what of the epoch that Tuborg closed? That era marked the apex of my youthful beer-love. Here’s the story.

Most of my country buds drank beer, but if you had any left at night’s end you dared not take it home. You hid it. I’d considered one of our barns for my caches, and knew my mom would never find it. But my brother might well have. Beer over. Beer over.

Then it occurred to me: if I were hiding beers, maybe others were too. So began, “The Age of Found Beer.” I’d been hiding my stashes under bridges and culverts, so my buddy Steve and I began to check exactly those places. And we scored. Big time. We generally searched on Sunday because folks hid beer on Fridays and Saturdays. We routinely found five to six beers, and one day found thirteen.

The peak of the Age came one Sunday afternoon as Steve and I cruised the back roads in Steve’s Mustang Grande. We passed a glitter of broken glass on the side of the road when I caught a glimpse of gold among the shine. “Pull over,” I called. Steve did so and I got out to find where a whole case of Pony Millers had been thrown out into the ditch. Now, a “case” of Ponies was 48 seven ounce bottles, and although some of the beers from our found case were empty and others broken, we found 22 full ones. Party time!


I’ve wondered quite often about that found beer. Where had it come from? Why was it there? I’ve always figured somebody threw it out while running from the cops, but I’ll never know for sure. It drank like it was free, though.

The Age of Found Beer actually continued on the other side of the Tuborg Sanction, but I took a more mature approach.

During several summers in high school and college I worked at a military base called Camp Chaffee. I generally washed pots and pans and sometimes cooked. Not long after the Tuborg incident, I spent a very enjoyable free-beer summer at Chaffee.

The National Guard was using the base that summer, and man did I prefer these guys to the regular army. For one, most of their cooks were cooks in real life and we ate pretty darn well. Two, one of the cooks in my mess hall rented a car and parked it outside the building just so he could go out during breaks and sit in the AC. (There was none in the buildings.) Typically, I took my breaks along with him and we sat in the car drinking beer in the cool air while listening to KISR, the local rock radio station.

The best thing about the summer was that at lunch they filled huge plastic trash cans with ice and beer for the Guard soldiers, and I had the evening duty of emptying those cans out. Every single day I found between four and fifteen leftover beers, which went straight into a personal ice chest in my car’s trunk. I didn’t buy a beer that whole summer, and, in fact, became known as a generous fellow who often gave his friends beer. This was the first time that ever happened.

Fortunately, or unfortunately, my love for beer was about to take a darker turn!
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33 comments:

Cinnamon said...

Well who'd have thought that beer could provide material for a whole series of posts? I'm really enjoying your 'Ages of Beer' and looking forward to the darker turn..

Lana Gramlich said...

Nothing like free beer. ;) Reminds me of one night I was working at a convenience store. Someone came in around 2am & gave me a couple of beers they'd smuggled out of the bar. I stashed them in the ice maker in the back room 'til it was time to go home.

Charles Gramlich said...

Cinammon, I was surprised myself. Seems like beer has been a bigger influence on my life than I'd thought.

Lana, free beer is excellent.

G said...

Very cool.

A great story arc about your personal experience with beer.

Richard Prosch said...

I'm enjoying your posts a great deal. They've brought many of my own country beer memories to the fore! Did you risk drinking opened containers (he writes, recalling the foolishness of youth and near swallowing cigarette butts and pull-tabs)?

Charles Gramlich said...

G, I wasn't expecting when I started the piece that it would spin out like this but it seems to be going well so I'm gonna roll with it.

Richard, glad you're enjoying. Thanks for commenting. We drove around with open beers all the time in those days. And worse, foolishly drove while intoxicated. I'm not proud of the latter and am very thankful I never hurt myself or anyone else.

Rick said...

Love this series, Charles, and am really wondering about "the darker turn."

Erik Donald France said...

God, that's hilarious . . .
I've witnessed guy's guarding their stash of beer, and I've seen them bring crap beer to parties and drink better kinds, but never myself came upon such motherlodes as you describe! Cheers' to the darker turn . . .

Wil said...

Damn Charles, this beer series is quite the juggernaut! What can possibly happen next? I can hardly wait!

Wil Harrison.com

Greg Schwartz said...

"found beer" is always nice. hope whoever's case that was isn't reading this now!

Gaston Studio said...

I, too, am wondering what the darker side will turn up. Although I'm not a beer drinker myself, I often drove around as a young'n with a drink in my hand; thank God, no one was ever hurt as a result!

Charles Gramlich said...

Rick, all will soon be revealed.

Erik Donald France, beer thirst is the mother of invention they say.

Wil, I didn't realize quite what a drunkard I was until I started this series. Interesting.

Greg Schwartz, I sort of hope they are. That way they won't be regretting the loss of the beer; they'll know it went to a good cause. :)

Gaston Studio, I know. I think back on that and am very grateful.

Heff said...

Is this a cliffhanger ?

pattinase (abbott) said...

This has the making of a novella. MY LIFE WITH BEER.

BernardL said...

LOL! Very entertaining beer diary, Charles.

cs harris said...

Ah, inventive minds!

When I was in high school, we were required to do a long chemistry project. My friend and I decided to brew beer. Our chemistry teacher (a young guy) was all excited and helped us set up these big tubs at the back of the classroom. It was coming along great until the principal complained it was making the school smell like a brewery and made us pour it out. : (

Charles Gramlich said...

Heff, not a very good one but yes it is. I'm hoping for the kind of anticipation you get while waiting for the foam on a fine beer to go down slightly so you can drink.

Pattinase (abbott), hey, don't think I haven't thought of it. It's a lot of writing just for the blog eh?

BernardL, I didn't realize I had so many stories about beer. Amazing. Glad I remember them.

Candy, and so another great scientific mind is squelched. Sigh. Who knows what a brewer you might have turned out to be.

jennifer said...

I love this turn you've taken with your writing. I'm sure the beer-capades occur all over the country but the distinctly southern feel to these posts make me feel right at home.

Mona said...

I guess that found beer would always make one feel good...just like a found coin makes one feel lucky!

Great post! I had no idea ppl hid beer :D

jodi said...

Charles, I once tossed a six pack out of the car window just prior to being pulled over. I was underage at the time. Very close call with lesson learned.

ivan said...

Yep. Found beer.

How often have I felt the world is my brewery.

Steve Malley said...

'It's all fun and games until somebody drinks a Tuborg' shall be my new catch phrase! :)

Richard Prosch said...

I was sixteen years old when my young friends and I spun out of control on an icy road coming home from a KISS concert. No one was hurt in the least ---but indeed there were some empties on the floor. While I can't say I haven't been in a car with an open container since then, I can honestly say it was never again by my own choice or sanction. Talk about living the lyrics --(Detroit Rock City!) that night put the fear in me for sure.

X. Dell said...

(1) Uh-oh, beware the dangerous turn.

(2) My carefree beer days ended with a Chinese beer called Cathay. I'm sure Tuborg had nothing on it.

(3) With all that beer in the trunk of your car, you must have been the most popular guy in Arkansas.

(4) LMAO at your beer-finding escapades. I could almost picture you and your friend wearing safari outfits as the Great White Beer Hunters.

the walking man said...

The rule is "Anything for free except a hard time." even if you have to search it out, free is still free.

Miladysa said...

Entertaining post Charles!

I am looking forward to the next part. Up until now it has all be very "Wonder Years" ish I think that could all be about to change...

laughingwolf said...

from light to dark, as in: beer to ale, charles? ;) lol

benjibopper said...

Great story...not sure tho if I'd trust found beer. I'm not usually squeamish but that 'wonder where it's been' factor probably isn't a good feeling when it comes to beer.

Mary Witzl said...

The fact that you actually went trawling for beer really cracks me up -- I love the idea of this! And let's face it: anything free is wonderful.

Barbara Martin said...

Perfect series of posts on a product most people like. Nice memories, Charles.

Charles Gramlich said...

jennifer, I'm definitely a southern boy. You can't take it out of me.

Mona, in the country they did. But "I" found it. lol. Thanks for visiting.

jodi, I feel bad for the six pack abuse but I'm glad you were safe!

ivan, as long as the world isn't your urinal you're doing well. :)

Steve Malley, I've been going around saying Tuborg Sanction to Lana just to see her laugh!

Richard Prosch, what scared me the worst was riding once drunk on my motorcycle. Then realizing how easily I could have gotten killed. I became a much more cautious person after that.

X. Dell, Cathay makes me think of being run over by the Mongals maybe so I can see a similarity with Tuborg and Vikings. I wish I would have thought of Great Beer Hunter.

Mark, I agree. I like that, anything for free but a hard time."

Miladysa, well maybe not so much. I've been pretty lucky through most of my beercapades.

laughingwolf, I hadn't thought of that but it would have been a good twist. ;)

benjibopper, as long as it was sealed and not rusted at all we figured there wasn't a problem. We did find some that had gone bad once and we didn't drink it.

Mary Witzl, we were serious about our beer drinking in those days.

Barbara Martin, I didn't realize they'd actually be this long. Glad you enjoyd.

Rachel said...

Man. Found beer. See, I would never have even thought about that, though I'm sure I have friends from high school who did the same thing. I was just too naive.

Charles Gramlich said...

Rachel, it was a stroke of genius if I do so admit. ;)