The Art of Beer Pt 4 – Knowing When to Stop


I am currently sitting down at one of my favorite tap rooms. There are eight people in the whole joint including myself and the bartender cause it’s still kind of early. In the background while I am typing there is some music playing with a Jamaican flare and a large cacophony of boisterous female cackling and drunk dudes trying to over talk them. One party of four is making most of the noise

Ok. To be fair this place is not the greatest acoustically. And it’s Friday Happy Hour and these folks are happy. Good for them. They seem to be enjoying themselves and having a great time. More power to them.

On the other hand when it’s time for them to leave I hope they use the phone a friend lifeline. Because I doubt any of them is good to drive. Which brings me to the point of this particular section of the Art of Beer…. overdoing it. Or more importantly… Knowing When to Stop!


I remember when I was a teenager drinking was considered the cool thing to do. And that thought process is still probably true for the younger generation today. “Adults do it so it must be cool!” Or whatever word they use for cool now. Of course they also have a lot more peer pressure to use a lot of different chemical combinations than when I was that age. But this post is about beer so back to the topic at hand.

At that age the only signs that said you had to stop was when you couldn’t walk upright anymore. For any teens then, especially for boys but also for a few girls, this was considered a rite of passage culturally, and not just in American culture. I served overseas In the Air Force from the age of 18-20 in Germany and the same cultural rite of passage seemed true there as well. The difference between Europe and the U.S. is that alcohol consumption there is much more ingrained in the culture and the knowledge of proper consumption is taught to their young adults earlier. Americans have a tendency to throw their kids into the deep end of the pool when it comes to cultural dos and don’ts.


Americans culturally are usually all about testing their limitations. If you’re not pushing boundaries then how do you know how much you can do? The old adage “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger!” has been adopted by American youth throughout the many years for many different cultural activities, but this is especially true for consuming alcohol.


There is always one person in the crowd who thinks it’s funny to see how much it takes to make someone puke. This can be a man or a woman. And the victim is usually someone of the same sex who is new to that current social gathering and it makes the instigator feel better about themselves to make someone else look foolish. If you have ever drunk any alcohol then the chance is very likely that you have been the victim in the scenario I just mentioned. If you have been the instigator then shame on you!


If you are one of the lucky ones who have so far escaped unscathed from those who want to see what your limits are, or if you have not yet pushed your own limits, the following are definite signs that you have had too much:

  1. When you get up to walk to the restroom the earth suddenly shifts 45 degrees and you lose your balance. Just FYI – unless you are in an earthquake prone region the chances are pretty good that alcohol is interfering with your equilibrium, which means puking is not far away.
  2. You feel that closing one eye helps you see something you’re looking at better. Unless you have a glass eye, or are sighting down a barrel rifle scope, looking out of one eye is never better for you.
  3. You find yourself flirting with someone who, for some reason unknown to you, your friends keep trying to pull you away from. If these are girlfriends then they won’t stop pulling until they get you away from this person. Guys on the other hand only try to warn you once. After you growl a “Leave me alone!” at them then they adopt the “I warned you and now you’re on your own!” attitude. Part of that is because we’re a bit lazy and part of it is the guy code thing where you don’t try to interfere with another guy trying to get some.
  4. You’re willing to drink anything someone puts in front of you. Most people have their preferences as to what they are drinking for the evening. And while that may vary from night to night, you usually don’t mix different types of alcohol because they don’t always play well together. For instance, a beer and a shot are ok as long as you don’t do too much. Beer followed by wine if fine. But wine followed by beer doesn’t work as well. And you don’t do shots with wine… at least not with good wine. Mixed drinks don’t mix well with either beer or wine, but are okay with shots. If you start mixing these combinations and don’t pay attention to the common rules just stated it usually doesn’t end well,
  5. If you lay your head down on the bar, table or other hard surface and close your eyes, you’re done for the evening. It won’t be long after that you start praying to the porcelain god.
  6. You and a perfect stranger are suddenly the best of friends and you start telling each other things you wouldn’t tell to people who have known you for years,
  7. You come back from the restroom and see that someone has taken your drink or your seat and you start yelling at the top of your lungs and challenging them to a fight. Then you realize you’re at the wrong table/seat and these other people aren’t the group you came in with… or even worse you’ve wandered into a different bar altogether.
  8. You start airing your dirty laundry because your girlfriend/boyfriend/spouse said something to piss you off!!! Granted, some folks don’t need alcohol to get to this point but it certainly drops the barriers that would normally keep that from happening.


The following, unfortunately, are definite signs that you have had too much but they don’t make themselves apparent until it is far, far too late:

  1. You wake up curled up on the bathroom floor or hugging that nice cool commode.
  2. You wake up and don’t remember how you got there.
  3. You wake up and don’t know where you are.
  4. You wake up with someone whom you do not recognize.
  5. You wake up in jail.
  6. You wake up in jail and the new friend you made that night at the bar is next to you smiling a really creepy smile that makes you wish this is all a bad dream.

If have been sampling alcohol for any length of time then you have probably experienced at least one, if not two, of these signs. If you have experienced all of these signs then you probably have a drinking problem. If you have experienced all of these signs more than once then you probably have a death wish.

The point I am trying to drive home here is that pushing the boundaries has its place, but alcoholic beverages is not really the area to adopt that philosophy in. Knowing when you have had enough is a very important part of being a responsible adult. It’s also a very important part of making it home safely to your loved ones.

Oh by the way, the boisterous quad of drunks I mentioned at the beginning of the post have departed. Three of them left when one of the females started getting real loud and yelling. Then she broke down and started crying into her beer and telling a few strangers at the bar what a great and giving person she is. This is a perfect example of someone who is pushing their boundaries and should have stopped a few beers back.

My point is this, enjoy yourselves as much as you want. But when the alcohol starts letting down inhibitions and your start exposing parts of your personality that are better left hidden then expect to hear something like “Hey… I know you!!!… You were that drunk idiot in the bar the other night!!”

Showing your ass, figuratively and literally, always has consequences.