Banana-slip into the ‘90s

Last Tuesday evening, drunk driving was encouraged—nay—required. Beers, adults disguised as teens from the ’90s, ass-like aromas and smack talk permeated Sactown Union Brewery for its Mario Kart Tournament, a first-time event for Sacramento Beer Week.

Sactown Union was packed before the “official” racing began in pursuit of prizes that mostly included gift certificates to the brewery. Men with babies strapped to their chests were shoved against dogs licking their owners’ pint cups. The host of the evening, Joshua Kress, from the pub trivia group Geeks Who Drink, kicked things off with a roll call and rules. Imagine second grade but with beer and profanity.

The 32 team names included gems like Yoshi’s Dirty Tongues and Toadstool Samples.

The rules were simple: No beers, no play—teams had to drink in order to drive. Swearing was to be kept at a minimum due to the family friendly nature of the brewery. This was immediately followed by a message to parents: “This is a brewery and people are going to swear,” Kress said. “Also, shit-talking is encouraged.”

The last golden rule from the host? “I am Josh, Josh gave up his playing time to host so buy Josh a beer,” Kress said. After looking at the overstuffed room: “Actually, everyone doesn’t have to buy Josh a beer or he’ll be shitfaced.”

The crowd’s passionate obsession with Mario Kart was anything but understated; we’re talking die-hard fans of the game and its associated trash-talk. The room howled when a player slipped on a banana during the first Mushroom Cup round. Picture the Sacramento Kings beating the Los Angeles Lakers … in overtime … with two seconds to go. Audience members screamed:

“You can slip on my banana any time!”

“Can I taste the tears?!”

“Peach, you should be ashamed of yourself!” Kress said. “If anyone is buying a beer, I could use one.”

Chris Martin, a Sacramento local, was on the one-man crew Shells and Cheese. As his friends noted, they weren’t talented enough to play alongside him.

Mr. Shells and Cheese—having just won the tournament at the Napa Valley Museum in December—was clearly on a confidence high.

“I smoked a lot of pot and played Mario Kart all the fucking time for a decade,” Martin said. “I am going to win that $50 gift card.”

Spoiler alert: He did not win, but made it to the last round, when Power and Green Shells raced to first place.

The brains behind the event belong to Aaron Taylor, a Sactown Union employee. The brewery is interested in turning it into a monthly event with a philanthropic twist: Teams will buy in, and the winners will not only get a gift card, but will choose a charity to which they can donate the entry fees.

“It isn’t just about brewing beer, we brew community,” Taylor said.

Well, Sacramento millennials flocked with their newborns and pets in tow, so mission accomplished. On to the next lap.