I live less than a mile from the Winking Lizard in Macedonia. One of the servers talked me into signing up for my first tour in ’96. The denim tour jacket I won that year, with the large embossed gold lizard on the back, is still one of my favorites. I did three tours that year, four tours the next and six in ’98.
My 17-day tour started on a Saturday in January, so there were a lot of football games still going on. I might have drunk 14 beers those days from lunch into the evening. Then I’d stop in for a flyby — on my way home from work — and knock two or three off. I maybe knocked over a couple chairs staggering out of there, too. Sometimes I drink too many.
The tour was somewhat competitive. But it was a friendly competition.
I learned some techniques over the years. It’s best to save some beers I like better for the end. It’s good to finish with excitement versus the three to five you struggle with. With new beers not on the previous year’s tour, I’ll usually welcome those new arrivals first.
Wait to rate the beers in the guidebook: Sometimes they taste good going down, but the next day you’ll have a headache.
This year, I finished my 29th tour — well, maybe my 30th. I need to try to count my jackets.