There’s no defying gravity

Andre the GiantWhat can Andre the Giant teach us about beer? I ponder the Eighth Wonder of the World on this, the day of his birth back in 1946.

Born Andre Rene Roussimoff in Grenoble, France, Andre was afflicted with acromegaly, a disease causing an overabundance of growth hormones. Peaking at a height of 7’4″, and a weight of 500 pounds, Andre became a legend in the world of professional wrestling. His official website would be a better source for a complete biography, while I expound on another legend surrounding this huge figure: his drinking abilities.

There are many tall tales about the massive quantities of both food and drink that Andre had the ability and occasional inclination to consume. Some say he consumed several cases of beer in a single day, over 7000 beer-related calories. It is said that a wrestling associate claims that Andre has taken in 117 bottles of German beer in one sitting. Another story says he put down 3 fifths of vodka in an effort to tie one on.

I wouldn’t recommend any of this, not even if you weigh 500 pounds. But curious, I thought I’d track down a blood-alcohol calculator to see just how that quantity of alcohol measured up in a man of that size. My first two attempts were defeated, as the drop-down menu choices for weight didn’t allow me to analyze a person bigger than about 300 pounds, nor choose a higher number of drinks than 8 or 10. Finally I found Cool Nurse, and was able to enter my own numbers.

With my handy calculator, I discovered that 117 bottles of beer equaled 9.75 cases, a little more than what I call “several.” I used the 117 number, his 500 pounds and guessed at roughly 5% abv in those beers. But over what span of time did he consume them? Five hours out on the town on a Saturday night seemed like some serious chugging, so I looked at it as a day’s work, and plugged in 8 hours. The resulting blood-alcohol percentage, even for a big boy like Andre, was .932999%, well beyond dead.

So I tried 12 hours. That only dropped it to .873%. Sixteen hours brought it down to .813%. While promoters tended to add up to 6 inches to Andre’s height, I’d say that drinking buddies tended to boost the beer count.

I once saw a 300-pounder drink 23 beers in about 5 hours of drinking. Those would have been roughly 3.5% cheap macro-lagers, and those numbers result in a very reasonable calculation of .1665%. This guy was certainly that drunk, no hyperbole involved, and lived to tell the tale.

The fact is: there’s no defying gravity. Not even Andre could have drunk like that. Not that drinking like that is in the least bit cool. It’s a legend about a legendary figure. As is obvious with today’s on-screen wrestling antics, it’s all just a show, little different from a soap opera. Don’t believe everything you read, nor everything you hear.

There are, however, other traits in Andre that one might prefer to emulate. In addition to being known for some outlandish drinking abilities, he was also referred to as The Gentle Giant. He was kind-hearted and good with children. Big men much smaller than Andre will attest that they are often the target of challenges by much smaller men out to prove themselves. Andre reportedly always tried to squash these foolhardy proposals by talking.

Beer is a beautiful thing, lovingly crafted by it’s brewer. What a slap in the brewer’s face is the desire to consume 117. Or even a much smaller number like six. Are you going to appreciate the flowery nose on number six? Are you going to enjoy the interplay of malt and hops? The touch of alcohol warmth in some beers? The spicy phenolics? The touch of citrus? The subtle cherry nuance? Palate fatigue alone will kill all this fun. But more seriously is the alcohol involved.

A giant of a beer like a doppelbock, a wee heavy or a Russian imperial stout is a great place to find wide-ranging and intense flavors. But those are the beers with which one should be even more careful. Share one with someone you enjoy. Smell it. Taste it. Feel it. Enjoy it. Just one. It is a Gentle Giant, if you let it be. Or it will kick your ass.

Don’t provoke the Giant. You will lose. Appreciate and care for the Giant. For that matter, appreciate and care for the little guy, too. The little guys can mount an attack, as well.

It’s quality, not quantity, that will bring you toward brewvana.

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