The full quote from Proverbs 16:18, at least in the King James’ version, is “Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall” but the more common shortened version says it all. Essentially, the modern meaning of this proverb is not to be overly confident, especially in yourself, or you’re likely to have something bad happen to put you back in your place. If you allow yourself to become full of pride, you will find yourself humiliated. Be modest, that’s good advice to remember. It’s what happened to me on Sunday, and I offer up my cautionary tale by way of illustration.
I’ve done my fair share of prolonged drinking over the years, and rarely have I not been able to muddle through to the end. We (and by we I mean those of us who have been regularly attending GABF for many years) generally say about the Great American Beer Festival—by way of advice—that it’s a marathon, not a sprint to suggest that pacing is very important to a full enjoyment of the week’s events. So when I was invited to the 4th annual Keene Tasting on Sunday, the day after the Hard Liver Barleywine Fest at Brouwer’s Cafe, it simply never occurred to me that I wouldn’t be still standing after twelve hours and 150 beers. Alas, my body had other plans for me.
At 11:00 a.m., with our first beer of the day. Things went fine through the first 50 beers or so, when suddenly and quite unexpectedly I felt cold shivers shoot through my body. Initially undaunted, I assumed that the open windows letting in the fresh Seattle air had simply chilled the room so I put on my jacket and resumed tasting. But after another half-hour of involuntarily shivering it became obvious that all was not well and my body had decided to pitch a fit. I felt fine, apart from the chills, and struggled through until we almost reached the half-way point, 75 beers, and it was time for another break. I hunkered down in a comfy chair during the break and tried to will myself to warm up, but it did no good. When tasting resumed, I stayed put figuring I should not ignore my body’s tantrum, and still hoped it was just a temporary thing and my recovery was minutes away. A few kind souls asked if I was okay (perhaps I looked as bad as I felt) and I nodded and muttered that I was fine. But as more time passed and I was feeling worse, I decided to spare myself further humiliation and called in the evacuation troops — my wife — to come and collect me. About an hour later I was standing out front shivering in the cold and waiting for her arrival to whisk me to safety and nurse me back to health. This proved trickier than I might have imagined. Whether my weekend drinking had finally lowered my immune system to the point where I got the flu that’s been circulating in my friends and family for weeks or I simply drank too much, too fast, I can’t really say. All I know is that my chills turned to heat as I burned off a fever so bright that my wife said my skin was hot to the touch like an old-fashioned radiator and that she couldn’t even lie near me because I was radiating so much heat. By morning I only felt lousy, a distinct improvement. But that was nothing compared to the disappointment at not finishing the tasting. Perhaps I was at least a source of amusement for those I left behind, as I heard Bonney calling my name from the window above me as I waited for my ride. I called up, but I don’t think he heard me. C’est la vie. There’s always next year.
Our hosts, Vern and Bonney, the two Matts, during a toast to Michael Jackson’s memory with the beer made by Pike Brewing for the Michael Jackson Tribute dinner held the night before in Philadelphia. The first half of the tasting I enjoyed immensely, right up to the point where I had to leave or die.
For many more photos from at least the first half of the Keene Tasting, including some bottle shots of the beers sampled, visit the photo gallery.