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!