Vince Capano
is a two time winner of
the Quill and Tankard
writing award  from the
North American Guild of
Beer Writers.  

Vince's column is now
a regular feature of
new -  How To Be A Fake Beer Geek
Leo knows a lot about wine.  He likes to drink wine.  His passion for it (if passion can be measured by consumption) is
prodigious indeed.  Some of Leo’s friends however are beer people.  They, like all beer folk are friendly, gregarious
types and as such have invited him to join their weekly poker game.  Wanting to fit in so as to better fleece them of
various amounts of cash (good wine is expensive), Leo is in desperate need of an instant beer geek makeover.  With
no w
here to turn he reached out to the only source that could help –BeerNexus.  And so in answer to Leo’s plea and
for anyone else out there trying to survive in a beer centric world I give you a crash course in How to Be a Fake Beer

Follow these tips faithfully at any bar and you will be respected and admired by any craft beer drinker while gaining
the enmity of the Bud Light crowd – opposite sides of the same coin.

1.  Look the part.  Facial hair, preferably a full beard is a must.  The longer the better.  If you’re in a rush and don’t
have the time to grow a real one, I recommend   Professor Auguste Balls’ Discount Disguise Shop.  Ask for the
Clouseau Special.  You won’t be disappointed.

2. Dress the part.  Wear a beer related t-shirt; you’ll get extra points if it’s from a defunct brewery.   They might be
hard to find so if you have a little patience, just buy a few
current ones since the market glut will soon put many out
of business.  

3. Carry a “brewspaper” with you at all times.  There are many out there like the Ale Street News ,Mid-Atlantic News,
etc. They’re available at the right price (free) at most craft beer bars. You don’t have to read it of course.  Simply
have it displayed next to you and occasionally look down and shake your head.  Up and down is acceptable but side
to side with a small snicker is preferable.  Remember, a beer cynic is more respected than a beer Pollyanna.

4.  At any point in a conversation casually mention the name of a several pubs you were in recently and say they
really had great -or bad-  beer. Don’t worry, it doesn’t matter which you choose since you are making up the names
of the bars.  Since they’re fake you never have to worry that some wisenheimer will contradict you.  The more
creative the bar's name the better.  I suggest some practice with this.  No, not in saying the name but in keeping a
straight face.  Caveat - do not use names like Dew Drop Inn; Bar, Bar, Black Sheep; High Dive; Drunken Duck, or
Bubba’s Sulky Lounge since they’re all real.   If pressed on its location pick a different state or for more credibility
make up the name of fictitious town but place it near a real one.

5. When scanning a bar’s beer menu pick out the most expensive item.  Order it.  Then after it’s served complain
about the price.  Mumble something about its outrageous cost per ounce, the incredible markup, inflation in general,
and the excesses of the national budget.  Follow that up by saying “three tier system” in a guttural tone that clearly
conveys your disapproval.  If you’re feeling particularly adventurous add, in a reverential voice, “ Adam Smith, Milton
Friedman” with a knowing wink and nod.  If anyone shows the slightest bit of interest at that say “Jan Tinbergen” and
they’ll slink away.

6. If you’re asked if you like a particular beer be careful.  If you laud a bad beer or criticize a world classic your
incompetence will be apparent.  Therefore it’s always best to simply say “it’s better on tap.”  For optimum effect have
a look of resignation whenever drinking bottled beer and a slightly satisfied smile when it’s from a tap.  Broad smiles
are allowable only for cask ales.

7. When your beer is served wrap both hands around the glass.  If it feels cold continue to grasp it tightly and say
to yourself (but loud enough for anyone within a few feet to hear) “Never underst
ood why they serve this at 38
degrees.”   Addendum – if you overhear someone in the bar ask for a chilled glass gently nudge your companion and
quietly chuckle (two or three heh, heh, hehs should do it.)

8. If your craft beer is served in a shaker pint with a logo of Bud, Coors, Miller or any derivation thereof point to it and
say “this almost ruins the beer”.  For advanced students only:  if you have ordered a beer over 9% ABV and it is
served in shaker pint say nothing regardless of logo  You are getting a big bang for your buck.  Drink quickly and
order another.

9.  If you are buying a bottle ask the bartender to see it first.  Hold it up pretending to look at the fine print.  Then tell
the bartender you forgot your glasses and ask if he can read a good by date.  If the date he reads is over a year ago
or if it doesn’t have one refuse to purchase it.  Not only will you get an admiring look from all beer geeks in the area  
the bartender may offer it to you at a discounted price. Exception – if the date is earlier than the year you were born -
buy it but do not drink it.  There are a lot of suckers on E-Bay just waiting to feverishly bid on it.

10.  During the course of a conversation with
a  beer geek you will sometimes find yourself totally confused.  Fear
not.  There is a universal phrase that is always appropriate and will serve to validate your beer credibility.  
Regardless of context, say in a clear strong voice:  “Ah….Michael Jackson.”  The “ah” should be stretched out after
which there should be a very short pause before saying  “Michael Jackson”.  Your tone should be most respectful
with a sing song cadence.  I cannot stress enough that it is crucial you do not, repeat do not, then begin to hum Billy
Jean.  It
's not that Michael Jackson.  

11. Some pubs offer “flights”, not of the airplane variety but small tasting glasses.  Be wary of ordering these.  Since
a flight is usually four or five beers your chances of a misstep are dramatically increased.  Ordinarily a beer novice
would ask the server which order is best to drink them in but no experienced beer geek would stoop that low (except
when at Hooters – come on, do I have to explain everything).   As a fall back move drink the beers from lightest to
darkest color.  Do not chug.  Take a quick sip and move on from one to the other.  If still under extreme scrutiny
knock over all the glasses being sure to spill them toward the suspicious party.  Immediately say some passing idiot
hit your arm.

12. If you’re asked where to buy good beer never say in a supermarket or in bulk. Note: the "Xll" in Westvleteren XII
doesn’t mean it comes in a twelve pack.  In fact nothing good comes in a twelve pack and often not in a six pack.  
Experience shows that the best beer usually comes in a one pack.

13.   After a few sips of beer take out your cell phone and fiddle around with it carefully hiding the screen.  Everyone
will assume you’re on Untappd or some such geek beer app.  If someone asks about your “check ins” or the beer’s
rating respond by saying “the service in here stinks.  I can’t get a good connection.”   Quickly blame AT&T, Verizon,
or (always a winner) the bar’s cheap Wi-Fi.  You may ask “why Fi, why not something else?” but it’s not advisable
unless everyone around you is a bit hammered.

14. If you’re asked to comment on a bottle’s label examine it closely and say any of the following:
A. it has a
surrealistic look;  
B.  the logo almost fits in the Hyperrealism school; C. it’s a fine example of  minimal Minimalism.
It is highly unlikely you will be challenged regardless of which one you use unless the person is a painter.  If so, ask
him what he charges per room.

15. If heavily pressured to evaluate a beer it’s quite acceptable to generalize with insightful phrases like “this beer
has tasteless flavor”, “the beer is only as good as it tastes”, or the always accurate, “it’s not Heady”.  

So there you have it – the easy way to be a Pretend Beer Geek.   Leo, you can thank me later.


click to contact vince
March 2017