The Wonders of “Mug Clubs”

I really got a kick out of hearing about this.  Reader Mike Townsend just graduated to a dead author “mug club” at Bukowski’s Tavern in Boston.  The Challenge? Drink 136 beers in 180 days.  You have to pay for the drinks yourself and the beers you drink will be marked down on a card.  At the end of it all he recieved a GIANT custom beer mug that will have his graduate number and the name of the dead author of his choice (in his case Alexander Dumas).

After hearing about this I looked in to mug clubs and it really is an interesting concept.  Set up by individual craft beer bars and brewpubs, the challenge basically is to drink every beer on the menu over the course of a set time (the average has been from 6-12 months) and at the end they receive a custom mug and benefits such as discounts or, in Mike’s case, the ability to have ANY beer in the giant mug at a price slightly higher than a regular pint.  Oh, and the mug stays at the bar.  So it’s always there waiting just for you.

Now, this might sound crazy.  At first glance it seems like a LOT of money to blow on beer (Mike gave the estimate of a little over $1500) and can lead to several problems (even Bukowski’s warns “Bukowski Tavern is not responsible for any excessive weigh gain, marriage annulments, black eyes, one night stands, or spur of the moment tribal tattoo arm bands that one may incur throughout the process of completing your mug.”), but if you think about it, the time limit IS pretty spaced out and if it’s a bar you plan on regularly going to you may even find that you drink that much in the course of, say, a year.  Plus in most mug clubs I’ve looked up, the waiter/bartender reserves the right to cut you off so the chance of alcohol poisoning isn’t there.

Another benefit is the obvious one: expanding your beer palette!  What better way to broaden your horizons than accept a challenge and get in to a mug club?  Even if you fail you can at least have the pleasure in knowing that you tried something new.

The other great thing about being a member of a brew club is that, well, you’re a member of the pub.  It almost ensures that you are a local to the pub and will be staying there for some time, which is good for the pubs business and, depending on the pub, helps support locally brewed beer!  And supporting pubs and local craft beer gives everyone a warm, fuzzy feeling in their hearts.

What a fantastic idea and I can’t believe I’m just learning about them now.  I mean, I think I may have been vaguely aware of mug clubs years ago, but I neve really looked in to it.

I’m hoping I can find something similar to this in Toronto.  I would LOVE to have a place like C’est What or Smokeless Joe’s start up a mug club.

5 Comments Add yours

  1. Kyla says:

    Last time I was there, I feel like I heard about one at the Beer Station. Can’t remember the “prizes” though.

    Biggest con? It’s the Beer Station.

    1. Robin says:

      Oh lords, the Beer Station. Not bad selection, but the place has the atmosphere of some of the grimiest dives in Scarborough.

  2. Mark Murphy says:

    As far as I know, mug clubs are illegal in Ontario…… unfortunately. Mill Street has their “MBA” at the brew pub, but I don’t think the AGCO allows different pricing for different people.

    1. Robin says:

      Of COURSE it’s illegal in Ontario. Anything fun involving craft beer is always illegal. Grawr.

      But I didn’t know about Mill Street’s MBA program. That’s…interesting. Thanks for the link!

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