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Bar Man, by Jeff Hoyle, September 22, 2017

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I drink a lot of tea, and when it comes to emptying the dishwasher,

I often try to carry all the empty cups back to the cupboard at one go, sometimes as many as 14.

When it comes to carrying beer glasses, I am much less adventurous. Two is fine, but four full pints is too much. It gets interesting with three glasses. Should I or shouldn’t I?

No such mental agony for Oliver Strumpfel, a Bavarian tax inspector who recently broke the world record for carrying full beer glasses.

Bear in mind that in Germany they serve beer in litres and that one litre equals one and three-quarter pints so it’s really about the weight that has to be lifted. You can see a video of the successful carry of 29 full glasses, weighing about 70Kg on YouTube, and also his failure with 31, though he only spilled two glasses.

It is far from the first pub-based record. Indeed, the global arbiter of the weird and wacky feats was the idea of Sir Hugh Beaver, then the managing director of Guinness Brewery who became engaged in an argument about which was the fastest game bird in Europe after a shoot in Ireland in 1954.

He realised that there was no reference book available to confirm that the Golden Plover that he had missed earlier in the day was the correct answer.

One of the brewery’s employees at the time was Sir Christopher Chataway, pacemaker for Sir Roger Bannister’s record breaking mile-run. He suggested that his friends, the McWhirter twins, might be able to come up with something, and a thousand copies of the first edition of the Guinness Book of Records were produced and given away in August 1954. It was an immediate success and has been published ever since, now as an annual.

The ownership has passed through many hands since the early days and it is now owned by the parent company of the Ripley group, who operate 32 ‘Ripley’s Believe it or Not’ attractions around the world.

Although the direct connection with brewing has been lost, how many people have sat in a pub, leafing through it looking for inspiration for fundraising?

The world’s biggest pub crawl? Not the annual CAMRA Christmas trip to Norwich, but a yearly event in Australia which attracted over 4,700 people when it last broke the record. Imagine that crowd arriving at the London Porterhouse. I would want to be at the front of the queue. An individual challenge? You could try to beat Croatian Krunoslav Budiselic’s record for opening 2,000 beer bottles in 28 minutes and 11 seconds, the kind of guy who would be useful on the pub crawl.

In Nottingham, Matt Hand took over four hours and 129 attempts before he managed to flip and catch a pile of 112 beer mats. I will leave it to you to decide whether that is more impressive than Dean Gould’s feat of flipping and catching 35 beer mats with two fingers whilst blindfolded – more than doubling the previous best of 16. He also set a new ‘speed flipping’ record with 800 successful flips in just 41.06 seconds.

Almost all the record attempts these days raise money for charity and I guess that over the years the total runs into many millions. It wasn’t just the Golden Plover that got lucky when Sir Hugh missed his shot.


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