Barstool: The year I gave up beer

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Councilwoman Denise D. Adams tested the new slide at the Kimpton Cardinal Hotel in downtown Winston-Salem.

If anything, you’re drinking to forget 2016, not flipping to the booze column to relive the highlights of this flaming garbage heap of a year. But this reflection is sort of like a victory lap, given that the race is already over for me and I’ve handed off Barstool to the capable and adventurous Kat Bodrie. Here’s a quick rundown of my self-proclaimed greatest hits in this space, ranked by what I had the most fun reporting, the biggest news, and the pieces that y’all wouldn’t stop yammering about weeks and months later.

I started off 2016 in style, puking up a bunch of snacks and booze I’d thrown down at what had been an amazing New Year’s party at Hoots brewery. Sometime after singing karaoke to “I Want It That Way” with my girlfriend and my planned New Year’s Day party, I lost my cool. Some of you gave me a hard time for writing about it, probably with some justification considering it self indulgent and a little gross, but I think it’s important if you’re writing about booze week in and week out to acknowledge occasionally that this stuff is actually controlled poison.

My next three pieces I won’t soon forget either — a tour of the forgotten Marriott bar in downtown Greensboro, a behind-the-scenes look at Greensboro’s ABC system (Did you know it’s headed by a black woman? Pretty badass.) and adventures making gin at home during a snowstorm. Y’all really loved that last one — I heard more about it than almost any other piece this year.

What won?

Regular readers already know: that time I earnestly showed up at Willie’s Honky Tonk in Winston-Salem and genuinely didn’t have a clue that it had ties to Hell’s Angels.

Lots of readers refused to believe I could be so unawares. But there’s no visible sign outside, I’m not from around here, and three locals who I mentioned it to (including my friend who came along with me) were equally uninformed.

I admit to being a little concerned for a week or so that someone in the biker gang would decide that the piece warranted retaliation, but despite one threatening phone call to our office, it appears there’s no bad blood between us, and I’m grateful for that.

A few other pieces garnered considerable enthusiasm and feedback, especially the piece trumpeting the fact that you can legally drink in LeBauer Park in downtown Greensboro if it’s from one of the adjacent businesses. Y’all need to take more advantage of that.

Readers frequently mention the time I brewed a beer at Gibb’s Hundred — I named the mint saison “Taylor Swift’s Boyfriend,” and even though the small batch sold out in record time, she still hasn’t called me (I wish you would, Taylor). Good news though; I’ll be making another beer soon with Preyer Brewing, this time to benefit TCB’s investigative fund!

Other big things happened and appeared in this column in 2016, including the opening of Joymongers and Fainting Goat Spirits in Greensboro and the award-winning Brown Truck Brewing in High Point. The column also afforded me the chance to write about the opening of the Kimpton Cardinal hotel in Winston-Salem, with its fancy bar and basement bowling alley, I finally made it onto the grounds of the private Greensboro Police Club and I interviewed Malcolm Gladwell about his rules for drinking.

Not a bad year, as far as the Barstool is concerned, and certainly not a boring final lap for me as this paper’s booze columnist.

As the year draws to a close, please join me in raising your glass to Bodrie; she’s going to take us great places in 2017. Just don’t drink too much — you don’t want to end up like me last New Year’s Day.