Rugby players, like many of you out there, do not need an excuse to gather in numbers and drink beer. Playing a match is always a good one. Any day that ends in “Y” qualifies as a good reason too. That being said, whenever there is a good reason for drinking we are more than happy to take full advantage of it. I can’t think of any better reason to down a few cold ones then to help a friend.
For those of you that were unaware, I play for White River Rugby in Indianapolis. Last April we had a match in which one of our players, Brandon Garner suffered a severe spinal cord injury.
An injury of this magnitude is extremely serious. Without going into details on the injury itself, I think it is safe to say that the young man’s life has been changed forever.
A rugby team is like a family; you sweat together, you bleed together, you drink together- the list could go on. It takes a lot of hard work and dedication to play the game; those that play form a bound that is unlike any other. So when one of our own went down it was time to rally the troops and do what we can to help our teammate and friend.
Such was the case August 22, as various members of White River Rugby, the rugby community, and friends descended on a little section of Indianapolis known as Broad Ripple for the Beers for Brandon Pub Crawl.
// ]]> // Beers for Brandon Pub Crawl
Our day of drinking in Broad Ripple began appropriately named Broad Ripple Tavern. It was great to see the troops gathering en masse of such a great cause. With the special t-shirts everyone was wearing we would undoubtedly stand out and cause a little stir as we moved from one drinking establishment to another.
The Broad Ripple Tavern was a great place to start. Nice and spacious, it was designed to allow those that want to enjoy a pint of your favorite brew and get a bite to eat do so. If you are more interested in shootin’ a little pool and partying there is an area for that as well. A wide variety of tasty dishes adorn their menu- I would highly recommend the mac and cheese wedges as an appetizer and the fish and chips for dinner (and if you can’t take food advice from a fat guy, who can you take it from).
To be honest, their beer selection did not really stand out. They had your basics represented on tap and most of your common imports and popular specialty beers in the bottle. It was nothing to write home about, but a safe variety so that everyone can find a beer they are happy with. I drank a Killian’s myself- not too heavy or too light, with a refreshing taste that goes down easy. Slow roasted caramelized malt gives this beer its color and its distinct flavor, one that I find fits when you just want to enjoy a couple or if you are planning on downing more than a few.
Our second stop was at a Broad Ripple institution – Old Pro’s Table; otherwise known as OPT. plenty of screens cover the walls in order to satisfy the thirst of every sports fan. For us the highlight of this place was the boxing machine. I’m not sure what the teal name for it was, but essentially it looked like a speed bag hooked up to this machine; you hit it once and it gauges how hard you hit. What genius thought about putting the ultimate testosterone test in bar?!
I went first partially because I knew I’d get bested pretty easy by some of these guys which I did. I was told later that a couple of the girls beat me too (but I think/ hope they were just messing with me).
Taking a swing at the bag made me thirty, but since I was still in somewhat of my right mind I went cheap here. When it comes to quenching your thirst, a Bud Light does the trick. Looking around OPT I could see why this place had been around for so long. It had the ability to appeal to most anyone. There were tables up front near the open windows for people that were looking to enjoy a good meal and a beer with a couple friends, and rooms in the back for groups like ours that wanted to have a good time (separated so as not to disturb people at the tables).
Personally, I waited till, or third stop to eat BW3s, otherwise known as Buffalo Wild Wings and More. What better food is there for a day of drinking then wings? This establishment offers them up in many different ways and in a variety of temperature levels. My ability to handle the hot stuff is long behind me so I settled for a dozen boneless honey barbecue- mmmmmmm. After washing them down with a cool, refreshing Sam Adams Summer Ale (light, an easy to drink lemony flavor with no real aftertaste) I was ready to move on.
One of the newer establishments to Broad Ripple welcomed us next. It has the look of a chain-type establishment, well, because it is. With about seventeen bars scattered across the Midwest they might now what they are doing. There floor plan is wide open with tables along the walls, the bar in the middle, and a whole lot of space to fill in between. This place by far had the most taps and the widest variety of beers from you domestics to imports and most of your popular specialty beers represented. I tried counting them, but at this point I had consumed a number of tasty beverages and had trouble once I ran out of fingers.
I did enjoy an old favorite while I was there – Smithwick’s Irish Ale. The history for this beer is more interesting then the taste (I really can’t remember why it use to be an old favorite); apparently it is brewed in Ireland’s oldest brewery situated on what was once a Franciscan abbey where monks had brewed beer since the 14th century. To be honest, that is the most interesting thing about this beer. It isn’t bad, but even with the number of beers I had already consumed the taste it left lingering in my mouth was not a pleasant one. This one will definitely be wiped off my favorites list. (I highly recommend the Gator Balls as an appetizer. I could explain what they are but that would really take the fun out of the name. Don’t worry- they are yummy!)
The next stop on the Beers for Brandon Pub Crawl is responsible for many of going from tipsy and happy to outright drunk. Chumley’s welcomed us on our next stop. While a sizable place, the tables do not leave as much room for a group our size to mingle as large guys like myself might like. However, the plethora of taps totally makes up for it. This place had all the beers you expect a bar to have and many more. I thought I had made some notes using my iphone, however when I read them the next day- or should I say, tried to read them- it was hard to tell Stella Artois from Hacker Pschor (these guys do have a list of their beers on their website which was the only way I was able to decipher those names from my notes).
If the pictures had come out, I would post some of the boat races we had there. For some reason though, my thumb seems to be the fixture of just about every shot.
CT Pepper’s was nice enough to welcome us in next. For a good pizza while you are out drinking this is the place to go. While there was no one playing while we were there, CT Peppers is known for its live music and drink special. If you want to rock and get rocked, CT Peppers is a pretty good place. They tables out front allow people to cool off when it’s hot, but if you are just looking for a DJ and a dance floor they have one of those downstairs too.
At this point the natives were all feeling pretty good, but what really put us in the mood to continue the party was when the announcement was made that we had received over a thousand dollars in donations to help our teammate and friend- and we still had another bar to go.
Another Broad Ripple institution was the final leg of our crawl – Connor’s. Home to the Indianapolis Impalas, the other rugby team in Indianapolis, it was one that welcomed rugby players like us. I could attempt to wax poetic about its simplicity and local charm, but instead I am going to be honest. At this point I was drunk. Shortly after getting there I called my wife to come get my drunk behind and went home.
I do want to say thank you to all the establishments that welcomed us in. Not only did each one donate something to our cause, but by welcoming us into their establishment we were able to talk about our fallen friend and teammate to many people that would have otherwise have never heard of him. Many of those people donated money to help Brandon even though they have never met him. It would have been easy to say no and walk away, but instead most gave a little something. A whole lot of a little something eventually adds up to a tidy sum. So to the bars and the people that donated- thank you very much.
If anyone would like to read a little more about Brandon and possibly donate to the Brandon Garner Fund please visit the White River Rugby web page at www.whiteriverrugby.org and click on the Help Brandon tab.