Kegs Versus Cans

A philosophical question for hashers: which do you like better, kegs or cans?

Until a few days ago I was a staunch defender of what passes for conventional wisdom among beer drinkers — and, naturally, hashers — that keg beer is a priori better than canned beer. The proposition makes perfect sense. Keg beer is fresher, there’s more of it, the whole concept is closer to the roots of beer-drinking, it’s more manly (and womanly), yet environmentally-friendly, less hostile to minorities, preserves the rain forest, reverses global warming, etc, etc. And then our hash gave up canned beer and switched to kegs.

For the first couple of keg hashes, I ignored the increasingly-obvious inconveniences: always eight or nine thirsty hashers in line ahead of me, a long wait with an empty mug, then feeling so guilty about the thirsty hashers lining up behind me that I’d fill mine only halfway — then, suddenly, I had a heretical thought: ”This sucks!”

Back in the day when our biermeister put out five or six coolers of iced-down canned beer for on-ins and down-downs, any time you wanted a cold beer you reached into a cooler and grabbed one — voila! — instant beer! Eight or nine thirsty hashers could reach for cold ones simultaneously and at the same time. What a concept — beer on demand!

Now that we’re doing kegs we have long lines, pushing and shoving, rancor and accusations — and I’m drinking unsatisfactory beer. No, that’s not a contradiction in terms! I know I’m going to get just utterly flamed for saying this, but I have to take a stand (give me strength, G). Dear hashers, please suspend your disgust and let me try to explain the reasoning behind my keg angst.

Scenario: you’ve just come on-in from an hour-and-a-half-long trail. You’re weary, dehydrated, dying of thirst. You want to be with your friends, standing in the shade, laughing, telling war stories about the trail, drinking beer. You make your long, long way to the head of the beer line. Your . . . very . . . long . . . way . . . it seems there’s a problem with the tapper . . . the hashers ahead of you are getting mugs full of air and foam . . . you continue plodding grimly forward, telling yourself “Hey, it’s a fresh keg, this always happens, by the time I get there . . . with Gispert’s blessing, in an hour or so . . . the air will be out of the system and I’ll get a pure stream of beer.” With that vision to sustain you, you postpone suicide for another day and patiently wait your turn.

At long last, you make your way to the head of the line. You body-block several line-crashers clutching for the spigot, and just as you are about to release a splash of life-restoring beer into your mug, your wife magically appears at your side, saying “Hey, honey, my cup’s empty.”

Finally it’s time to fill your own vessel. You place the spigot on the inner edge of your carefully-slanted mug and depress the thumb paddle. A feeble but gloriously liquid trickle of beer begins to flow. Suddenly a couple of hands appear from nowhere and begin pumping the tapper up and down. A sputtering fart of over-pressurized air and foam blows your sorry ounce of beer to kingdom come.

You have just met the keg attendants, who hover about the beer at every hash, eager to help the uninitiated. There are at least six of these officious, self-appointed cunts, and they watch over the tapper like buzzards at a Tutsi-Hutu friendship festival. No one will get a beer (or a mug full of air) without their unwanted assistance . . . and you go home from the hash with perhaps, if you’re lucky, six ounces of beer in your whimpering gullet.

Now, before all you keg lovers, beer busybodies, and beer snobs gang up on me, put yourselves in the position of a thirsty hasher dying for a cold beer . . . a position you’ve all been in. What would you rather have: lines, unwanted assistance, and foam . . . or a cold beer? Well, damnit, I vote for BEER!

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