Beer sharing etiquette

Recently, long-time friend Funkyskull posted an interesting question in the “bad form” blog entry. It’s about beer fouls at parties. Her question was this:

Recently, we were at a party with about 100 people – big party, little house. I knew exactly four of those people. Anyway, my partner in crime and I went to the grocery store beforehand and each selected a sixer. Neither were fancy, just the ones we felt like drinking that night. Long story short, I got to drink ONE of mine before they were all bogarted. Is it a party foul to then take one of someone else’s? I did, but then felt guilty. Is it wrong that I felt slightly salty about it? I just felt sort of like, well, if they wanted to drink Blue Moon, maybe they should have bought Blue Moon (and had the foresight to purchase and slice an orange…).

First off, let me answer the questions presented:

  1. All of my beer has been bogarted by other guests at the party. Is it OK to then take others’ beer? Should I feel guilty about taking someone else’s beer? Is it OK to feel salty about people taking my beer?: Yes. Variable. Yes. I mean, nothing is more irritating than bringing beer you feel like drinking and having some random folks you don’t even know drink it all. But if those types of shenanigans are going on, it’s safe to assume that all beer is fair game. HOWEVER, since I know you are a person who respects rules and boundries, I would recommend asking around before taking someone else’s beer. I know I would hate to be caught by some angry person saying, “You’re drinking my beer! That shit’s expensive!” and having my only defense being, “Well, that’s cause everyone else drank mine already.” Both people have a right to be mad, and both have a point.

This leads to Rule No. 1: When attending a party, assume someone else will drink your beer, unless you’re protecting it all night. I’m not saying it’s right or good form, but some folks go to a party and see the beer brought there as a buffet, while others get drunk and just take what’s available. This is why I just bring a swill beer that I don’t mind anyone else drinking. I mean, yeah, I might get a little miffed, but let’s face it, I’m not going to make a big deal out of someone taking a Straub as I would if someone took my Mad Elf.

This brings up interesting points about sharing and respect. Some folks automatically assume that any and all beer brought to a party is community beer. “Why else would you bring a case if it wasn’t to be shared, right? And if everyone brought a case, what’s the big deal? There’s plenty of beer for everyone!”

And in principle, I agree with this logic.

But generally speaking, people who use this argument use it when the playing field benefits them — “I brought a case of Budweiser … why shouldn’t I be able to drink your Dogfish Head all night?” This, in my mind, is akin to the people who, in a group setting, order the $30 steak dinner, drink a lot, and then suggest everyone in the group just “split the check equally because it all works out in the end” — even though half the people in the group just ordered a Coke and an appetizer. Basically, this type of sharing logic is fine, WHEN EVERYONE KNOWS THE RULES GOING INTO IT.

(These 2 things are not equal.)

But let’s say you are the more respectful type. Let’s say you’d really like to try a beer that someone else brought. What should you do? In my opinion, find out whose beer it is, and Rule No. 2: Always ask first. There’s no harm in that — and someone may have perfectly legit reasons for not sharing. And, by being respectful and asking, you may make a new friend.

Rule No. 3: If the person does give you permission to have one, don’t think that means you have access to that person’s beer stash all night. I know it sounds harsh, but really, if someone says, “Sure, you can have a beer,” that’s far different than the person saying “Help yourself! That’s what I brought it for!”

Lastly, for hosts, a way to help alleviate some of these problems is what I’ve seen called “the community beer cooler.” I know I’ve been on both sides of using this phenomena — where people contribute to a community pool and it’s fair game to everyone — and I loved it. At a BYOB event, a community pool is a great option. Everyone can contribute whatever they feel comfortable in giving, and it keeps the people with different beer standards happy — and their grubby little hands off the good stuff.


1 Response to “Beer sharing etiquette”

  1. 1 Funkyskull
    November 6, 2009 at 2:57 pm

    Thanks for your insight! I guess I should have known better going into such a chaotic party environment with beer that requires sliced fruit. I did ask around a bit, and everyone I asked said “just drink whatever you can find,” so that’s what I did.

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