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Apparently, there is such a thing as a diehard Kansas City Royals fan. The elusive creature, which normally lives in the western wilds of the state, has recently been spotted in our urban center. This particular fan, one Joe Hoffman, has hatched a plot to tweak the noses of Cardinals fans that is positively diabolical.
Hoffman is a habitué of the Flying Saucer Draught Emporium, a chain of pubs that offers a vast selection of beers—some 200, in bottles and on draft—at each location. He recently relocated from his Kansas City digs to St. Louis for work. Both cities have a Flying Saucer—our newly opened location is downtown at 900 Spruce, a mere block west of Busch Stadium. Armed with his knowledge of how the Flying Saucer’s frequent-drinker “UFO Club” works, the Royals fan set out to “ignite a grudge” with Cardinals fans, as he puts it, via the pub.
Once a Flying Saucer regular drinks every different beer on the menu, he or she is entitled to have a commemorative plate mounted on the bar wall, and virtually anything they want may be engraved on that plate. Hoffman’s plan is to drink all 200 beers, and then put the reviled name “Don Denkinger” on his plate at the St. Louis location.
Denkinger, as any red-blooded Cards fan knows, is the ump who blew a call at first base in the ninth inning of game six of the ’85 “I-70 World Series,” possibly saving the Royals from defeat, and paving the way for their comeback victory in seven games. Seeing Denkinger’s name in a position of honor in a St. Louis pub, no less one a grounder away from the stadium, would be like finding a portrait of Ho Chi Minh hanging over the bar at the VFW.
And yet, Hoffman will get his wish. There is really nothing anyone can do to stop him on his march to 200 beers and infamy. There is however, a chance that Hoffman and his plate can be bumped from pride of place as the first one on the St. Louis location’s UFO Club wall, to the second.
Our only hope rests with Richard Haegele, a St. Louisan and Cards fan recruited by STLHOPS.com specifically to beat Hoffman to the punch. Both men have solicited financial backers to ease the $1,000 or so it costs to drink 200 beers at the Saucer. Both men are drinking the Saucer’s UFO Club maximum allowed three beers per 24-hour period, every day without fail, in their beery slog to glory.
Who will win? No one can say, because if Hoffman and Haegele both proceed apace, they will finish their 200th beers on the same day, and the Saucer has not yet revealed what kind of contest will settle the tie (a chug-off has been suggested, but not confirmed).
This dust-up is just the latest salvo in a contentious period between our neighbor to the west and ourselves. Some rabble-rousing columnist for the Kansas City Star wrote this malarkey just last week. (We responded to it here.) There must be something in the air.
We caught up with both Hoffman and Haegele and asked how the quest was going.
Joe Hoffman, the Royals fan:
So how’s it going? It’s going pretty smooth. I haven’t run into any issues. The Saucer was busy tonight because of the Blues game. Some guys asked to share my table and actually knew the story and mentioned it to me, but didn’t even recognize me as the guy. I told them who I was. Nobody’s angry about it. Everybody gets the joking, fun angle of it. But I’ve been waiting for the Cardinals games to start—we’ll see what happens then.
You got some other people to help you pay for $1,000 in beer. I joked with my friends that maybe they would help pay for me. Originally, I set a goal of raising about half the costs, $500. Then after Richard [Haegele] got involved, I surpassed the $1,000 mark. I’ve upped the amount I’m shooting for to $2,500, and I hope to donate the excess to Royals team-supported charities.
Let’s be honest—you’re raising the extra money to buy George Brett memorabilia. [Laughs.] Oh, I already have enough of that. I’m fully stocked.
What are some of your favorite beers? Of the ones I’ve consumed, Blanche De Bruxelles, a Belgian witbier. I also like saisons and the lighter craft-beer fare. One of the reasons I was excited to move to town was the craft-beer scene here. I joked on Twitter that in one month here I drank more beers than in 30 years in Kansas City. They just didn’t have that scene there. I like 4 Hands and Civil Life, and Perennial is a good stop for me on the way home from the office.
If you want to have the first saucer on the wall, you can’t miss a day of drinking. How are you trying to ensure you don’t miss a day? Have you had to rearrange any family commitments, for instance? I’ve definitely been thinking about how it’s all gonna play out. I made my wife aware that this was my intention. She stays at home, so that’s a great fail-safe. We’ll have to get to the Saucer on Easter Sunday, and on my daughter’s birthday, which my wife isn’t very happy about. But they’re very understanding and I’m grateful for their support.
What if Haegele or his cohorts blocked-in your car? I can’t imagine that happening. I work downtown, so I don’t even take my car to the Saucer. Some people have threatened to throw down spikes on my driveway. I figure once we get 100 beers or so in we’ll see what’s what—it’ll get more intense.
How do you register the fact that you drank each beer with the Saucer, so they can record it? The Flying Saucer gives you a card when you sign up for the program. There are two kiosks where you scan your card and print off a receipt that you turn in at the end of the visit, and each night the Saucer staff scans all the codes in.
And you have plenty of experience at the Flying Saucer. In Kansas City the Saucer was my main go-to bar, and I went around their “Ring of Honor” five times. Each time you do the 200 beers, you get a different color plate. Mine is purple and white; I dedicated it to Kansas State.
So that’s 1000 beers. Yes. And if you do it five times, you get a special card that’s called a “Master of the Universe” card, as in He-Man. It entitles me to special privileges like keeping the glass on certain occasions, if I pay a small fee.
Describe how sweet your victory will be. It will be the sweetest victory ever because most Cardinals fans would try to play off a rivalry with the Royals as nonexistent. I hate to say putting up a Don Denkinger plate is celebrating the Royals, because no one wants to celebrate that exactly. But I want to fire up the Cardinals fans and ignite a grudge. The Cards fans may still resent the fact that the Royals won the ’85 Series.
Over the course of two months, you have to run into your opponent at the Saucer. Have you spoken with Richard, or even befriended him? Coming from the Kansas City craft beer scene, I’d run into Richard plenty of times before. We’re friendly toward one another. It’s better than having someone you genuinely hate sitting next to you.
Richard Haegele, the Cards fan:
So how’s it going? It’s fine. It’s not exactly an arduous task. [Laughs.]
You got some other people to help you pay for $1,000 in beer. We took a page from Joe and made a fundraiser page online, and people have been donating. The goal is to raise as much as possible. Anything above the cost of the beer will go to a Cardinals-related charity.
What are some of your favorite beers? It constantly changes. There’s always something new that comes out, too. Just tonight, I had a fantastic beer from Perennial, their Gingerbread Imperial Stout. It was phenomenal. One that’s more widespread is Sierra Nevada Ruthless Rye IPA; I like that a lot.
If you want to have the first saucer on the wall, you can’t miss a day of drinking. How are you trying to ensure you don’t miss a day? Have you had to rearrange any family commitments, for instance? Yes. I didn’t have any trips on the schedule. There are some family events. The Saucer is open from noon to midnight, so it shouldn’t be a problem. If I have something planned in the evening, I can pop in earlier in the day.
How are you preparing physically for the challenge of drinking all this beer—are you doing push-ups? I lift full mugs. [Laughs.]
What if Hoffman or his cohorts blocked-in your car? I don’t think it’ll come to that. I certainly wouldn’t try that.
Describe how sweet your victory will be. I guess I don’t know of a way to describe it. It would be awesome.
The whole city is counting on you—are you feeling any pressure? Since this started, every time I’ve gone to the Saucer or any place else where the beer community hangs out, they recognize me from the STL Hops forum or twitter, and they say hi and tell me to make sure I bring it home.
Finally, what will you have printed on your saucer for the wall? The goal is some sort of tribute to Stan Musial.