Beer-tivities: The Parsons Challenge at Hal & Al's

Jesse Tigges, Columbus Alive

A handful of bars around town offer beer challenges; drink a certain number of (different) beers, sometimes in a certain amount of time, and earn rewards. I decided to try my hand at Hal & Al's Parsons Challenge.

The Parsons Challenge seemed simple enough: Drink 30 different beers in 30 days. Drinking a beer a day on average is nothing. But I confronted problems that had nothing to do with the challenge and everything to do with my schedule.

First, I didn't actually start the challenge until June 19, which ends my 30 days just after this issue hits newstands. So to finish the challenge by the time this went to print, I had to drink 30 beers in about 25 days.

Making matters worse, I encountered a busier schedule - out of town trips, constructing a kid's bed from Ikea (ugh), various occupational obligations, unforeseen Fourth of July celebrations these past three weeks that hindered swinging by Hal & Al's for a pint. Plus, as much as I like it to be - a friendly neighborhood bar with an excellent beer list and fantastic staff - isn't in my neighborhood. So trips to Parsons Avenue had to be parceled out effectively, and within my schedule's confines.

I was usually able to make a happy hour trip two or three times a week, which wasthe best deal since all drafts are half-off from 4-8 p.m. Each trip presented a couple new options and a few I'd never tried before.

Upon signing up, challengers receive a score card to record every beer and the date it was consumed. Each beer is also given The three highest ranking on my score card were Ommegang Rare Vos (9.0), Brew Kettle Kitka (9.0) on draft and Bell's Hopslam (10) in a bottle. In retrospect I would bump Hopslam down a half-point the Kitkaa delicious chocolate coconut milk stout up a half-point, thus making them even.

The best part of the Parsons Challenge was the diversity of beers; a couple saisons (Green Flash Saison Diego, the surprisingly good Goose Island Sofie), a Southern Tier IPA on nitro, an Irish Red Ale from Buckeye Lake Brewery.

Sadly, I have to report that as of filing this story I haven't completed the Parsons Challenge. But by Friday, at the latest, I will earn my Hal & Al's T-shirt and my place on their wall of fame. I may not have the fortitude to complete the challenge in two days like a 21-year-old girl did -a true story regaled to me by one of the bartenders who experienced this first-hand - but I will get it done. From there I may move on to Parsons Challenge, Part 2 (30 different beers from the first 30 in 30 days), but after a short break.

Beer-tivities rating: 4 out of 5

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The Parsons Challenge at Hal & Al's

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Final score

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Hal & Al's

1297 Parsons Ave., South Side