Thursday, December 20, 2007

Happy Minutes Make Me Happy

I got reacquainted with an old friend today. No, not Bret – I saw him only a month ago. But he was the reason I caught back up with the other old friend: Happy Minutes. Every bar has a happy hour, but the Texas Showdown Saloon is the only one I know of that has happy minutes: From 3pm to 3:15pm every day, Showdown sells 10oz. glasses of domestic beers (I usually go for Shiner Bock) for just 40 cents. It's a beautiful thing. Today was even more beautiful, because the guy behind the bar (the owner? the manager? just a bartender?) decided everyone's beer was on his tab! The only thing better than 40 cent beers is free beers. Amazingly enough, this is only five cents more expensive than Happy Minutes was back when I was in college 20 years ago.

Of course it only made sense that I was with Bret. He's always thought Happy Minutes was the greatest idea ever. Back we when worked at The Daily Texan together, every afternoon at three he organized what was known as the Happy Minutes Brigade, which would march two blocks down the street from the Texan office, get likkered up, and then march back to put out the newspaper. It's pretty impressive that we ever published an issue.

There's a skill to Happy Minutes – you don't get your beer and sit down. You get it, go to the back of the line, and drink it down before you get to the front, and then refill.

This Happy Minutes was one of the more satisfying I've had. The weather was incredible (about 65-70 degrees with not a cloud in the sky, perfect for sitting in the beer garden once the 15 minutes was up), and for some reason, the Shiner Bock was tasting really good today. I've looked down my nose at Shiner Bock recently, because I swear it just doesn't taste as good as it did when I was in college, and it isn't nearly as good as some of the other brews they've come out with in the past five years. But it was hitting me just right today. Once Happy Minutes was up, Bret, Nosregref and I settled in with a pitcher of Live Oak Big Bark.

But what really got me excited was something new (at least, new since the last time I was there): an import Happy Minutes. From 5pm to 5:15, import drafts are only $1. That's a pretty good deal for the good stuff. Especially I think "import" really means "anything that's not Budweiser, Miller, or Shiner." I'm going to have to hit that soon.

1 comment:

Clark said...

Oh, the nostalgia! Not for Happy Minutes-- never did that, though it is genius!

Pod, Bookhart, Alan, Mike, Lisa, and I once formed a core group that would meet at Showdown every Thursday at something-o-clock (lost that set of brain cells!)-- no calls necessary-- it was just known that we would be there. This went on from summer 1990 until December 1993. Mike and Lisa moved up to Boston and Waterloo opened and we missed them quite a lot and decided to alter the pattern. So, Waterloo it was.

It was also the choice between Shiner (once so tried and true) and the new offerings of the Beer Revolution--- all sorts of fresh jollities on tap, and for cheap, too!

I share you take on Shiner Bock. It once seemed so good! We used to call it "the creamy creamy" and said that imbibing it was "like drinking in a cloud". Not anymore.

It is very hard to tell whether it got worse or it was just a casualty of the aforementioned Beer Revolution.

I am of the mind that it got worse. Proof:

#1 Lowenbrau Dark is something I also drank back then, and it has remained pretty constant. This is the "control".

#2 Pod noticed, on one of our many pilgrimmages to Shiner, that the tap water in Shiner has something of the taste of the beer---- an almost corn-like quality. That is missing now.

#3 Back in the day of good S.B. we all noticed wide variances in the quality. It was generally good, sometimes wonderful, and sometimes slightly rank to the point that "this batch was left out on the loading dock in the full sun" became current. Over time, we were sad to note that the "loading dock" batches became increasingly frequent... and then completely took over the world.

I remember reading something about ten years ago. Shiner was insisting that they had not changed their beer recipe, despite many protestations to the contrary.

We are not alone.