Thoren Grymm’s Pub Crawl at Bristol Renaissance Faire
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In our semi-weekly Summer Road Trip series, we venture outside the city limits in search of good, clean, and inexpensive summer fun. Starting close to home and working our way out, we’ll cover everything from indoor laser tag arenas in Waukesha to illicit swimming quarries in Redgranite.
Summer Road Trip destination: Thoren Grymm’s Pub Crawl at Bristol Renaissance Faire
Distance from Milwaukee: 39.8 miles
The Bristol Renaissance Faire exists at an unusual intersection between history buffs, theater folk, and D&D geeks. Some ren faire enthusiasts will spend days making sure their costume is accurate, and think nothing of wandering around in sweltering heat just to look good. Others put on their best accent to tell bawdy jokes and speak loudly to passersby, feigning ignorance of how smartphones work. Then there are those who build a character around their costume, devoting time and fanfic to Sir Wesley Neville, the Black Cad of Bowldershire. The one thing these people have in common—besides the shared hallucination that takes place every weekend from July 7 through Sept. 3 on the Wisconsin/Illinois border? They like to drink.
There are many entertainments and distractions for the whole family at the faire, but only a few directly marketed to adults. One of the newest is Thoren Grymm’s Pub Crawl. The crawl is a spinoff of RenQuest, which adds some salty LARP flavor to a day at the faire. The crawl is officially in its third year, and runs at 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. each day. It offers a chance to stop at five of the onsite pubs while being regaled by dirty jokes and performances. It compresses the most notable parts of the faire into a 90-minute experience: people in amazing costumes; a chance to show off some dirty jokes; and a brief walk around the grounds to think about buying that longsword, which is obviously a great idea.
The crawl assembles in the middle of the park. The bannerman leads the crowd to each of the pubs, which offers a chance to drink almost anything on each menu. At each stop, the crew puts together a song or a dance and encourages the crawlers to cheat their way to the front of the line. Skipping ahead means one of two things: tell a dirty joke, or volunteer to carry the banner to the next pub. Telling a dirty joke in front of more than a dozen strangers is surprisingly difficult at first. But as the cups are emptied and the crawl rolls on, the jokes tend to fly.
Games also get played for extra trips to the front. During a recent trip, a game called Buzz whittled down a large group of two dozen crawlers to a pair of gentlemen, who screamed numbers at each other for a drink. One was dressed in costume, the other in a golf shirt and shorts. Fortune smiled upon the costume that day. Perhaps it was because he brought his own mug. But everyone went home with a new party game to try with their friends.
There are a variety of beers on tap, putting the selection at local lakefront fests to shame. In addition to the beer, there are wines, ciders, and a few concoctions unique to the grounds. Honey mead wine has a white wine taste, and offers a chance for anyone—regardless of costuming—to feel just right wandering up to a barmaid and ordering a mead. All of the stops offer hard liquor mixes, but only one offers to half-tap hard cider and Mountain Dew. By this time, it’s easy to slip into a good buzz and forget what is currently assaulting the liver. The handy tear tabs on the wristbands keep things straight.
Thoren Grymm leads the crawl through the grounds. He dresses in an authentic outfit complete with eye patch and facial scarring. He chats up the patrons as they walk past for their booze, and keeps the energy up. He is assisted by the Pub Crawl Pussycats, a cast of women full of dirty jokes, dirty songs, and plenty of energy. Local Playboy Playmate Titania Lyn has even joined in the fun (she returns this year the weekend of August 11). Some of the women dive into the part with ghost white faces and bright rouge. Some of them look sweet and innocent. But all of them know the punchline to “What do Kim Kardashian and a used tampon have in common?”
The crawl condenses much of what’s fun about the ren faire into a 90-minute jaunt through the grounds. The people on the crawl go from cool-kid ironic to sunglasses-necklace professional, French musketeer to steampunk Victorian. What starts as discussing beer soon becomes sharing stories or correcting trivia. The participants begin the crawl as strangers, but through the sharing of tales, drinks, and laughter, they leave the best of drunks.
Other nearby destinations of note:
• Russell Road Military Museum: Literally down the road and filled with tons of wrecked military vehicles.
• Medieval Times: Round out a day at the faire with dinner at a show with more special effects and table wench service.