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Dear The Worst Beer Drinker at the Party,

At first, I thought you simply had impeccable taste in beer. Every time I’d chat with you at a party, you’d be sipping on something outstanding. Once, it was a small glass of Founders KBS -- a whale nearly impossible to find in the wilds of Oregon -- of which you cheerfully poured me a taste. Another time, you were rocking Cigar City’s Hunahpu’s, drinking it heartily as if it were an adjunct lager. Even the non-rarities in your hand were top-tier craft beers: a steady stream of New England IPAs, experimental porters, and Russian stouts seemingly poured from a never-ending growler filled from the world’s greatest beer bar.
credits:"Founders Brewing Co." align:center

As we began seeing one another at more and more parties, I started to realize that you seldom actually knew what you were drinking, offering up such tasting notes as “pretty good” as you took down a bottle of rare stout in a few gulps. For one particular holiday bash, I'd dusted off an expensive, wax-dipped one-off from one of my favorite breweries. You enjoyed it without much commentary -- which would normally be just fine, as beer is meant to be shared, even if without analysis. But then I noticed, out of the corner of my eye, after you housed your spicy holiday ale and slammed down the cup like a frat dude after ten 5-Hour Energys, you began to unpack your offering to the party.

One by one -- out of a backpack that was thrust into the corner -- came five warm, slightly battered tallboys. Five! The empty ring was still attached. And as you chucked them into the cooler, you pulled out a rare Belgian beer that somebody else had brought. You crushed it in seconds, then said it tasted "weird."

I wanted to give you the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps the host asked you to pick up some cheap beer for folks who don’t like the good stuff; maybe one fell out of the holder and broke. Maybe you grabbed them for a rousing game of beer pong (which, for some reason, is still a game we play despite pushing 40). Or maybe you simply didn’t have time or the cash flow to bring something better.

Again, all of that would normally be fine, really. And once beer hits the fridge, it should be considered fair game. My expensive, ultra-rare barleywine was made to be shared amongst friends. It’s there for you. It’s there for everybody.
credits:"[Helen Cook / Flickr](https://www.flickr.com/photos/hvc/2691327767/)" align:center

But it's intentionally taking advantage of the communal gathering that gets me. You're pulling a bait and switch. You come to the party with the goal of losing the least and gaining the most. And that's not cool.

It’s not just you, either. After all, you’re not real -- just a squirrelly archetype. Every party has a person who shows up with crappy beer -- a skunky six pack; an “ironic” 40 from the corner bodega; or a single 22-ounce bottle of something not intended to be shared -- and promptly ditches it for something better.

You're the worst beer drinker here: worse than the nerd who keeps referring to his closet as a "cellar"; worse than the snob who made a rude comment about the very tallboys you were just unloading; worse than the dude who brought his own glassware.

But you, your entire intent here is to upgrade. You're basically engaging in a game of low-rent espionage, like a paunchy Tom Cruise who swaps out something bad for something good, hoping nobody will notice. You feel bad showing up empty-handed, so you show up with something cheap, or incomplete, or a variety pack of the shit in your fridge that you don’t want anymore. You put it in the fridge as a formality, then you immediately browse the selection for the good stuff. It’s just bad form.

Hell, even if you drank one -- just one -- of those garbage cans you brought before upgrading, I'd forgive you for your transgression. But you won't. Because even you don't like them. You're passing the buck. Or, in this case, the $1 can of malt liquor.

Worst of all, you've placed the bad beer strategically in the back of the fridge, happy to know it’s there in case the good stuff runs out. And when you're ready to leave, you take whatever's left with you. Probably not to drink, but to bring it to the next party, fulfilling a never-ending cycle of sleight-of-handing your way to better beer.

credits:"[Ben Sutherland / Flickr](https://www.flickr.com/photos/bensutherland/5342406759)"

But hey, somebody seems to like you and continues to invite you places. So if I must see more of you, you should at least know the quick, unofficial rules of beer-taking etiquette, in the hopes that you're capable of change:

Rule #1

If you bring bad beer, drink it before moving on to the good stuff unless you’re specifically offered some. At the very least, drink one before moving on.

Rule #2

Don’t comb through other people’s beer, looking for the one with the highest ABV or -- even worse -- the highest price tag.

Rule #3

It there’s wax on the bottle, don’t open it. If there’s a cork in it, don’t open it. And if it’s sitting on a shelf next to the fridge, don’t touch it.


So it's Friday, we've got good beer on hand, and we’re all ready to clang a glass together and celebrate.

Say, what’s that you’re drinking? It looks good. Though there’s quite a bit of sediment in it.... Wait, are those chunks of cork? Damn, dude. Oh, well.

Well, hey, can you hand me one of those 24-ounce cans you brought? Yeah, the dented ones in the back of the fridge that are clearly expired and taste a lot like urine?

....No?

Didn't think so.