How to Become a Beerknurd at The Flying Saucer

If you want a place to try beer, the shiny new Flying Saucer in Sugar Land does everything it can to help you achieve that goal, and it does it in a way that makes you want to come back again and again.

There are 86 beers on tap, and another hundred and some odd beers by the bottle. All told, the number hovers above the 210 mark, and they are constantly adding new beers to the menu.

If you want to try a beer on tap, it's as easy as coming up to the bar and asking to sample it. The service is excellent, and the bartenders are not frugal about letting you try before you buy. My friend wanted an IPA and tried three before settling on a Karbach Rodeo Clown Double IPA, served in a snifter with a nice thick foam.

I didn't get the whole "flying saucer" thing until my bartender explained their U.F.O. program. It's cool, really. Especially if you like beer. It's like a frequent flyer program crossed with a game. To join, you have to pay $18, but you get a free T-shirt, and you start collecting points for every new beer you consume.

The people in the U.F.O. program are called "Beerknurds," and I didn't have to look far to find one. There were two sitting right next to me. When you drink all 200 beers in the house, you get a "flying saucer" in your name, which gets posted on the wall.

Looking up at the top of wall, where you'd normally see the crown molding, I saw plates with numbers and names on them. The guy I was sitting next to had #25, which meant he was the 25th person to drink all 200 beers since this location opened.

A maximum of three beers a day counts towards the end goal, so it would take 67 consecutive days drinking three beers a day to reach 200. Not everyone does it in 67 days, but like I said, it's sort of a game. Along the way, to keep you motivated, there are perks, like a $100 beer party when you reach a certain milestone, and other fun prizes.

"I'm already about 50 deep into my second round," the Beerknurd told me. "What happens when you hit the second 200?" I asked. "You get a plate on that other wall" he said, pointing to a special section on the opposite wall.

"How much would you say you've spent here?" I asked him, rather stupefied by the whole thing. "All told, about $1,000," he replied proudly, wearing it like a badge of honor. Not a bad price to pay for 200-plus beers, a T-shirt, a plate on the wall, and bragging rights, which he totally deserved. Cheers to the Beerknurd!

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Mai Pham is a contributing freelance food writer and food critic for the Houston Press whose adventurous palate has taken her from Argentina to Thailand and everywhere in between -- Peru, Spain, Hong Kong and more -- in pursuit of the most memorable bite. Her work appears in numerous outlets at the local, state and national level, where she is also a luxury travel correspondent for Forbes Travel Guide.
Contact: Mai Pham