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To drink or not to drink, alone


This month’s Session topic covers the appeal (or not?) of drinking alone. Let’s take a minute for the outrage to subside.

OK, that was quick.

Chances are you’ve found yourself sitting lonesome on a bar stool, whether by choice or because your friends stood you up. With all the traveling I do for DRAFT, I’m quite familiar with hoisting a pint in the sole company of my iPhone. It’s a sorry replacement for friendly banter, and this month’s topic got me thinking: Of all the bars I’ve walked into alone, which were the easiest to strike up a conversation?

The first that springs to mind is Philly’s The Grey Lodge. I waltzed in there on a weekday afternoon last fall, hoping to reconfirm the place was worthy of a spot on our annual Best Beer Bars list. The Lodge was pretty empty, save a few guys who had popped in for a quick lunch and pint. For the rest of the world, news of Muammar Gaddafi’s death was a trending topic—the TV behind the bar didn’t break coverage for the hour I was there—but inside the bar, local beer was the featured conversation. Within a few minutes of sitting down, a guy halfway through his lunch asked if I wanted to share a bottle of Philadelphia Brewing’s seasonal Harvest from the Hood—a wet-hop beer using hops grown at the urban brewery. He was buying, but he needed someone to split it with since he couldn’t put back the entire bomber during his lunch break. For the next 30 minutes, the guy told me pretty much everything I needed to know about the beer, the brewery and the entire Philly beer scene. He didn’t know I worked for DRAFT; I was just some dude who’d popped into the bar for an afternoon pint. That’s good beer people.

My favorite, though, was New Year’s Eve two years ago at Oklahoma City’s Tapwerks. I made the road trip—alone, and happy to do so—for the sole purpose of ringing in 2011 with The Flaming Lips, or more specifically the band’s annual NYE Freakout. At the strike of midnight, the band was scheduled to play the entirety of “The Soft Bulletin,” one of my favorite albums of all time. I hit up Tapwerks pre-show for some pints of something local. Halfway through the first one, I wound up in a conversation with a group of people in town for the very same reason. They were beer nerds, Flaming Lips freaks and generally my type of people. We didn’t talk about anything life affirming, but randomly meeting a group of people who shared two of my passions made me feel perfectly fine about risking New Year’s “alone.” It was also pretty cool when I saw them again in front of the stage—we’d all had the same idea to evade security and jump the barrier that separated the seated tickets from the general admission in front of the stage. It was a pretty awesome reunion.

What are some of your favorite bars—or favorite memories—for striking up a conversation when you find yourself alone with a pint?


Chris Staten is DRAFT’s beer editor. Follow him on Twitter at @DRAFTbeereditor and email him at

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One Comment

  • Danimal says:

    For those in the Chicago area, you need to head out to the West Suburbs to a town called Addison and go to Bigby’s Pour House… I literally have seen this place go from having 10-15 people on a Saturday night to filling capacity in a couple hours on a Monday night in a little more than a year! Small hole-in-the-wall Bar that only serves craft beers & wine (you want a Rum n Coke? Go somewhere else!) The owner is a local of the town and has really found his niche! While sampling some of the best beers (which changes basically weekly so you always have variety) Be sure to try the “Muddy Pig” (Nutella,Bacon,and chocolate drizzle on flatbread; DON’T KNOCK IT TIL’ YOU TRY IT!)or their S’more Flatbread… Only negative about this place is the size of the bar so be sure to go there close to when they open and stay a while! Worth the 30+ min drive if you live close to the city!

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