I feel around in my coat pocket and pull out three quarters. I pile them neatly between my fingers and place them onto the bar.

"Three tokens," I say.
"EX-cellent choice," says the tender.

Before me is a porter called Elves' Elixir. Behind me was Town Hall Brewery's Festivus party. This sudsy titan of Seven Corners has a penchant for bonfire parties and strong, special brews. I'm here for a little of both.

A sign taped to the bar's back mirror reads: THE AIRING OF GRIEVANCES, REAL LIFE OR IMAGINED. Give 25 cents and receive a token form of your grievance, real or imagined, to toss into the Festivus fire outside. I could use a few.

Did I mention I'd just been at Republic?

I drank a Miraculum and scarfed a couple of tacos (great tacos, by the way, and Miraculum tastes like Wikipedia slates it). Doesn't sound like a grievance, does it? Let's take a look to my immediate left.

A two-pack of bros cackles across a Tinder-swipe rampage. NO ... NO ... Her mouth is open like that, she looks WILD! ... YES ... NO ... NO ... YES ...There's no way these knuckleheads ever get laid -- (thinks about it) -- actually, I bet these knuckleheads get laid quite a bit (sorry ladies).

One is wearing a snapback; some played-out faux-hawk unicorn-head bullshit that should have been left at the frat house is wearing the other. Their jaw-jacking with staffers leads me to think they're frequent fliers, and "I should come here more" instantly sours into "Why have I not left yet?" Because of them, an excellent beer is tasting more like an obstacle. I bottom it up with grand indignation, point a fart in their direction, and part.

I rub the wooden coin with my thumb and recall every good time I've had at Republic: The filming of that 2ndBrunch episode, the towering Bloody Mary, gazing in awe at their 104 tap handles.

I forget sometimes that the Twin Cities isn't like Duluth, where you do have to avoid the frequenting spots of specific nuisances if you don't want to encounter them. I bet myself a dollar I never sit next to those guys again; and, while I'm at it, forgive any other Twin Cities establishment I'd abandoned owing to one set of clients. Second chances for all!

The first chip falls through the flaming logs and out of my sight. It was either toasted by hottest coals, or is remains intact in the ashes today.

Two things I love, beer stickers and prize wheels, come together in spectacular fashion outside. I steady the wheel's base with my right hand, grip the wheel with my left, raise my left leg onto my tippies, tighten every muscle at once and let 'er rip. It spins for about 90 seconds. The witnesses are in awe, good and bad.

The first yields a vintage beer stickers. The second lands on 29, for which my reward is a pint of beer and a free game of bowling. I find Star Tribune beer writer Ryan Tuenge, and ask him to videotape me spinning the wheel again. I land on 29 again, securing a complimentary date night.

Ryan is there with his wife. It gets out that he's going up north, and I bombard him with "GO TO GRONK'S, GO TO GRONK'S, GO TO MOTHERF'ING GRONK'S!" Other things I bombard him with include my pork sliders, Hugo's club subs, and the Anchor Bar's Galley Busters. I even regale him with the story of when I ate two Galley Busters in under an hour and didn't crap for two days afterward. I'm fun.

I've put on some weight this year.

I step on the scale every morning, sometimes like I'm watching a casket being lowered into the ground. What the hell happened to me?

As it turns out, very little. I haven't even risen a belt size. I haven't gotten any weaker, and finished my first half-marathon over the summer. Last weekend, I took part in a 24-hour relay. Get this: I was the only one to scamper a whole hour solo, clearing five miles without walking once. Quickly? (Waffles) No, BUT I never did got that far when I was 10 pounds lighter last year.

Running a beer program extends your waistline. Call it the cost of business.

I decide: I'll stay on the path, keep going harder, keep running the sprints, keep lifting the weights, and let the numbers handle themselves. If I wheeze out too soon or if my push-up count flounders, I'll worry then. For now, as long as I'm outrunning the kale-chip crazies, I'm healthy. Beating myself up over a couple of pounds isn't productive.

Residual suds glue my lips together as I drop my second chip into the fire. This grievance lands forcefully, knocking a log on its side upon impact. Quite satisfying.

I speak briefly with Mike Hoops, Town Hall's head brewer -- an exalted man of beer, several-time Great American Beer Festival medal-winner, who has absolutely earned the right to be too high for the commoners but never acts that way. Not only did he remember who I was, he remembered my wife was with last time and asked where she was (A: finals week).

I buy Ryan a spin, and he wins a postcard. It's the least I could do for he and his wife providing me company when I had none otherwise. I reflect on the evening and step back to the fire. I've got one left.

I guess I'm lying about this one, on two levels. I whisper it to myself, flip the chip into the fire, turn and walk off. I don't know how it lands. I don't particularly care. I just needed this one out of my pocket, and everything feels much lighter now.

Happy holidays.

You lean on one cheek and it feels like you've got the push just right. Next thing you know, it sounds like the carpet's getting torn off the floor.

Biting Off More than I Could Chew -- No, Seriously
How do you get a whole hot dog out of your mouth, but without chewing because you've got a whole hot dog in your mouth and your jaw is too stretched out to shut? It's a classic conundrum ... if you're a self-control-devoid, disgusting glutton.

It should come as little surprise, then, to find out I had this conundrum twice in one night.

I had the ingenious idea to race against Nathan Beck of Natedogs: A three-hot-dog duel to settle rulership of the universe. He approached it with experience and a sound strategy; I swung madly at it with a blunt object, figuratively. As it turns out, your mouth doesn't quite work like the wood chipper in Fargo (least mine doesn't) and Nathan won by less than a second. I know for a fact I spent more than a second freaking out with an overstuffed mouth. Watch for yourself and see.

It was my first on-air defeat. Nate and I have already agreed to a rematch. In the meantime, let's get a little closer on that photo, shall we:

Why yes, that is an impassioned consumption of wiener ... but good luck making a sexy joke out of that. In fact, if I did show this to someone and pair it with innuendo, they'd probably puke off nine or ten pounds.

So, if you're looking to drop some weight before Christmas, I've got a weird trick that'll help you do that. Doctors are getting pretty upset about it.

Taking My Tugs at No-Shave November

My wife beeped that mechanically every time she caught me pulling at it --


-- or using my lower lip to play with my mustache --


-- or using my upper lip to play with my soul patch --


I scratched at my neck hair, I straightened my sideburns, I fluffed out my beard, I unfluffed my beard, I stroked whiskers luxuriously all through November, I reached my tongue out and made it dance with my soul patch. It occurred without cue or intention, but not without "Beard."

My wild growth crept onward as November crept onward, with my twitchy fingers and lips fidgeting rampantly. A whisker patch on my jawline got yanked so far out of alignment, it made my head look misshapen. I repeatedly passed people, with my top lip sucked into my bottom one, looking like I'd just had my Legos taken away.

By the time December 1 rolled 'round, I was circling the ends of my mustache like a poor man's Dick Dastardly. I had whiskers with split ends. I also probably had the crumbs of four or five bagels in my beard. The final straw was applied when I was photographed during one of my little fits.

Two blades and the better part of an hour later, my face was burning but clean and a hairball the size of a baseball had clumped together in a corner of the sink. My wife saw me afterward and said I looked scary. At least I'm consistent, right?

Can You Still Call it Creeping if She Knows About it?
Within Black Diet's ranks is a red-haired angel a.k.a. Mugsy. I hear her voice and just melt. It isn't the same as my crush on, say, Lana Del Rey. I say things like "I'd leave my wife and marry Lana Del Rey TONIGHT!" because I've got a better chance of being vaporized Independence Day-style than I do of even meeting Lana Del Rey. Black Diet is a local band, and Prince isn't in it. These folks are accessible, so much that I could find the Facebook event for Mugsy's birthday bash and hit "Going."

It's the Internet. Everyone's invited!

What about your wife, Frank? What does she think? She gets it. She's got a rock star crush of her own. (third from left)

The plan was simple: I walk up, say hello, happy birthday, maybe buy her a drink, and fade back into the night like a pleasant mystery. Easy.

Now, you need to know that any plan I call simple is sure to go up in the rancid smoke of a dumpster fire. I left a large meal early, paid a cover charge to get into the bar, and used a fee-charging ATM, things I'd normally NEVER do.

Use of "normally never" is also an ominous omen. Here, let's throw a session IPA on top of all this and see how aggressive the flames get.

The last beer I drank in November: It was Atrocious and I Dearly Regret it
Listen, if I can't bring your session beer into the shower, I don't want it. I only drink sessions when I NEED to hold a beer and I NEED it low-alcohol. Green Flash Session IPA: Nothing in that sequence of words correlates a good drinking experience. I ordered it anyhow. It was $7.

SURPRISE! It tasted like crap.

No, I have not tasted literal feces. "Crap" is subjective; for instance, I think the idea to liquefy sandpaper is crap, and that's precisely what this beer tasted like.

Back to ...

OMG Mugsy is coming! Fix up, look sharp!

She approached. Her beauty was like nothing of this world. She was perfect. I tried to play it cool, but ... hey, STOP LAUGHING!

"Mug-zeee!" I said with a Robert DeNiro-type familial holler. "Hey, happy birthday!" We shook hands. "We've never met, but--"
"Are you Frank?"

Douglas Adams would have called what ensued, "a terrible and ghastly silence."

I think we're safe assuming she doesn't listen to beer shows or read about cheeseburgers. That she recognized me could have meant one of one thing: She noticed a creep on her attendance list, whom nobody invited, whose name was Frank, and recalled him to look a lot like this creep in front of her.

Just like that, this pleasant mystery degenerated into a gibbering idiot with no idea how to proceed in this conversation. I clumsily offered a drink. She politely declined. I wished her well and oozed back into the shadows.I played Angry Birds until I felt comfortable leaving.

As for that sinister prank of a beer, I tasted it well into the next day.

In the end, November was quite a revealing month for me. Now that I don't have perfection to worry about on the air, I can take greater risks with my guests. Now that I know what I look like with a beard, I know for sure if and when I may want one. Now that I'll never feel comfortable standing near any member of Black Diet ever again (Oh God, oh God, what if she comes up and remembers me), I won't try to budge my way to the front of any more mosh pits.

I don't think they're actually mosh pits. It's just, I'm old and any crowd at a concert is automatically a mosh pit to me.


Before I get all hoity-toity and say "I haven't had a Budweiser in years," let me first say I've had my share, your share, your mom's share and a light-drinking hobo's share of Hamm's and ol' Grain Belt. I am by no means above it.

NOW. I haven't had a Budweiser in years.

To read this Wall Street Journal piece about the king's decline didn't make me drop my coffee exactly, nor did its chief statistic: forty-four percent of drinkers age 21-27 have never tried Budweiser.

My first thought: Why would they?

To be clear, this is JUST Anheuser-Busch's flagship Budweiser beer. This leaves out Bud Light, Bud Light Lime, Black Crown if they still even make that, and the other beers under AB InBev Alphabet Soup's umbrella. Budweiser is distraught over the youth's hesitation to drink specifically Budweiser.

The article suggests AB is befuddled by this, then it gives you the answer in statistical form: 50 percent of of 21- to 27-year-olds identify themselves as “foodies.” FIFTY PERCENT!! Those who fancy themselves foodies are out judging the new restaurant, the flashy cuisine fad, the brewery down the way that just opened. They aren't drinking Budweiser -- because it's, you know, Budweiser.

Being the world's biggest brand disconnects you from a few people. Unfortunately for the king, that group is rapidly growing. Having more than 3,000 breweries in the U.S. nowadays doesn't help. Those so-called foodies are going to be busy a while. Disclosure: I am not in the 21-27 age bracket, but I am married to a woman who is (I still can't believe she got in the van. Peanut butter cups, guys).

Now let's talk about those unfortunate marketing pathways they've set upon.

The clydesdales were the drink's only distinguishing quality, and they're cutting them loose? Today's marketing centers on being unique, not ANOTHER beer bouncing up and down in ANOTHER club scene ... so who is AB calling up? According to the article, Jay Z and DJ group Cash Cash.

First, who is Cash Cash? Is that the group with Skillets and Dead Mouse? How are these artists going to spin Budweiser's fortunes around? Speaking of spin, what made Coca-Cola's "Share a Coke" campaign go viral was the flooding of bottle shots onto social media. AB's trying to copy it, and completely missing the point. I saw one of the "holidaybuds" commercials on ESPN.com this morning and it hit me like a ping-pong ball against the hull of an aircraft carrier. What's worse, Coke's campaign is fresh enough that Bud's looks like an obvious ripoff (which it is).

I'm leery about the idea to sponsor food festivals and college parties, since Budweiser already sponsors a ton of events, but I've got to like ONE of their ideas. This one seems the most feasible.

So, what do they do?

Most of my ideas are a little nuts, I know, but hang with me for this one.

Maybe ... Budweiser hasn't fallen far enough.

Let's take Converse and Levi's, since they're mentioned in the article. They snuck back into style after becoming afterthoughts -- I mean total afterthoughts. Levi's had been banished to Shopko, and Converses (ever-chic Chucks aside) were marooned on the bargain racks almost right out of the shippers (I know: I spent years at Champs Sports putting them there). That's where Bud has to land if AB hopes to have it hauled back out by millennial "foodies."

They're not going to sip it for flavor's sake, and they're not going to chug it out of a marketing scheme. This generation grew up around marketing schemes. They're aware they're being targeted by marketing schemes.

AB's best bet is keeping their core consumer base happy while letting Bud lay low for a few years, then switching the cans retro and betting on a PBR-like revival. Being "big beer" will never ensnare the audience they're after, nor will lazy marketing.

Alternatively, AB could just buy some beer companies. They are AB-InBev, after all. Similarly to how MillerCoors bought Leinenkugel's and Duvel snatched up Ommegang and Boulevard, AB could just throw their dollars at similarly-sized companies who are still coined as "craft."

If it's straight-up Budweiser AB wants to sell, though, that's going to be tough. As long as it's still around, being marketed and produced in bulk, they'll be the opposite of what their target audience wants. They'll still be Budweiser, and they'll still print money. They just might have to settle for Budweiser being King Nothing.