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The Awkwardness of BYOB

With the end of summer approaching (I think we still have a few weeks until the official start of fall, but Labor Day has always been the “end of summer” marker in my book), I’ve noticed an influx of invitations to barbecues and other social gatherings pop up in my inbox. I’m always happy to spend time with my friends if it works in my schedule, but several of the invites have something in common that has always made me feel a little awkward: BYOB. 

I understand why people hosting these events have that line in the invites, and in no way expect my friends to supply alcohol for an entire group, but it still makes me feel a little weird to tote around the amount of alcoholic beverages I might consume at any social gathering.

I’m not a huge drinker to begin with, but always keep some beer, wine, and liquor on hand for when I have people over, so when I’m faced with bringing my own beverages I always second or third or fourth guess how much I need to bring along.

The smart thing to do would just be to buy a six-pack of a beer I like and wouldn’t mind sharing or leaving with the party host, but I somehow never remember to pick up said extra six-pack when completing my shopping, and always end up scrounging in my fridge for whatever I can find that would be appropriate to bring along. And the times when I have remembered to pick up that random six-pack at the store, I’ve at times felt like I’m being judged or silently labeled as an alcoholic or heavy drinker for bringing so much with me– even though I would only plan to have one or two drinks.

I know that feeling of being judged is just in my head because no one else probably even noticed what I was carrying, but it just seems so unnatural to me that it makes me a little paranoid to walk around into a party with my own alcohol.

Recently I was faced with exactly that problem, where I was invited to a last-minute get together, and ended up randomly grabbing two beers from my fridge I knew I would like, and then added an extra couple to the cardboard bottle carrier I scavenged from a recent purchase of Fitz’s root beer, just so I wouldn’t have to walk around with loose beer bottles rolling around in the bottom of my purse. When I walked in to my friend’s house, I know I received some odd looks for presumably bringing soda to an event where all the other guests were drinking adult beverages, and then just felt completely uncomfortable explaining that I did have beer, just in a different carrier.

In hindsight, grabbing a bottle of wine to share would have been the easier choice, but I didn’t think that would have paired as well with grilled food as a nice frosty pale ale.

Maybe I’m just weird, but when I know that drinking will be taking place at an event someone is hosting, I’d rather give the host money to cover whatever I’m drinking instead of having to try to calculate how much alcohol to bring along, or even have to stop at the store to pick up extra that I don’t mind leaving behind.

Have you ever felt a similar level of awkwardness when planning what to bring along to a gathering where BYOB is happening?


One Response

  1. JT says:

    I’ve often wondered the same. The nice thing about the 6-pack is you can have some and share with other guests, unless you like strangely-flavored beers like I do, then you bring home the unused portions for the next time.

    I think wine just makes it easier. A bottle of table wine costs as much as a decent six-pack of beer and can actually be more versatile. Guests can have just a taste without that wierd “Hey can I try your beer?” “Sure, let me get a glass … ” “Nevermind, I trust you, I’ll just take a swig” and then you’re left with a 12 oz bottle that has 11 oz beer and 0.2 oz backswill and germs.

    Even if it’s just a bottle of Barefoot or Little Penguin, it’s thoughtful to bring. Mix with fruit juice if it’s not quite what you like. If you can find a Lindenman’s bin 48 on sale, or don’t mind spending $8 for St. Julian’s White Heron or Red Heron, you’ll be well-liked and invited back to the next party, at least.

    I personally think wine goes wonderfully with about everything. For grilled meats, pick a sweet red that you can chill – a gewurtztramner or traminettte, or even a white merlot (which is really pink) or Catawba. For grilled fish, a chilled white. For Chinese or Thai, a piesporter or riesling. For pancakes and sausage, moscato, but if it’s pancakes and BACON, I’d say port (to complement the saltiness), unless you’re having coffee in which case just stick to beer (Porter, or Coffee Stout).

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