ADVENTURES IN BEERLAND
Vince Capano
is a two time winner of
the  Quill and Tankard
national writing award
for humor from the
North American Guild of
Beer Writers.  

Vince's column is now
a regular feature of
beernexus.com
Ten Beer Things You
Really Must Do
That’s all I can stand, I can’t stands no more.  I’ve just read the umpteenth beer magazine
article about the “100 best places to order a beer”, the “50 greatest beer pubs”, the
“ultimate list of the ultimate beer things”, and yes, even “the greatest pub urinals”, complete
with pictures.  Each of these ‘best of’ and  ‘things you have to do once in your life’ type
articles share two common traits – a pretentiousness that belies the universal appeal of beer
and an arrogance that would shame even "the most interesting man in the world".   

These masterpieces of bad beer writing say we, the underprivileged beer loving average folk,
really can’t appreciate the true greatness of beer unless we have a pint in some obscure
Belgium monastery, a tiny pub in a thousand year old town in Bavaria, a real French
farmhouse, or Peruvian archaeological dig (that one requires your beer be from a centuries
old recipe you found the day before).   Sadly, if you’re like me you’ve never done any of
those and don’t even plan on doing them by the end of next week.  Yet you still like and
enjoy beer.  Well, for all of us grassroots beer folk here’s my list of the ten best things we
could do to earn our citizenship in Beerland.

Number Ten- enjoy a cask ale poured from a hand pump.   I don’t care if you drink it in
a pub in Manhatten, KA or Manhattan, NY.  It also doesn’t matter if your bar stool has a
padded arm rest or is just a bench.  A fresh pint of cask conditioned ale will take care of
everything.   If you haven’t had one search it out.  You may have to drive a few miles, but I
guaranteed you won’t need a passport to find a place that dispenses true real ale.  To
further enhance this experience enlist the help of the person next to you.  Have them ask  
“how can you drink that?  It looks flat and I heard it’s served warm.  And I don’t think it’s
even made by Anheuser-Busch."   Then just smile and enjoy being the one who's in on the
secret for a change.

Number Nine – get a great craft beer at happy hour prices.    Needless to say, bad beer
at a cheap price is never a bargain, but a $2 pint of Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA or Stone
Arrogant Bastard is as good as not being able to fill your car up with gas at $3 a gallon
because you just did at $2.15.  Great beer deals are around.  The Office, a New Jersey
restaurant chain, has one such happy hour, as do Jersey brewpubs Pizza Uno and JJ
Bittings.  As an added bonus, they can’t tell time.   Their hour is 180 minutes.   

Number Eight – have your beer served in a English Imperial pint (20 oz) instead of the
16 oz. American version.   Twenty-five per cent more, is a treat, plain and simple.  
Admittedly, the only thing imperial in some bars is the margarine they try to pass off as
butter but with a little effort you’ll surely find a big glass using pub.  Here’s a tip- any Irish bar
worth their shamrock will only serve Guinness in an Imperial pint sizes.  One word of warning
however, there are ersatz Imperial pint glasses out there.  These travesties, some even with
Guinness logos, are being filled in defiance of every major American truth-in-beer-serving-
law currently on the books.  Ok, maybe there aren’t any of those laws, but there surely
should be.  Case in point, on a recent trip to Easton, PA, I was served Guinness at an “Irish”
pub in a fake glass, by a barmaid with a fake anatomy, while the juke box played Danny
Boy…as sung by the Screaming Trees.  I think dishonesty is contagious.

Number Seven -  Make your own beer at least once.  Hey, if it turns out to be palatable
you’ll be thrilled and if it’s undrinkable you’ll have a better appreciation of the quality product
from craft brewers.  It’s a win-win deal.  However, if your product inches past the swill quality
level this still does not mean you can call yourself a home-brewer.  Most of those people
actually know what they’re doing.   All I’m suggesting is that you just buy a Mr. Beer kit,
which according to the manufacturer will allow “ anyone not from Mars or Venus to make
real beer”.  That, in the writing world, is called literary license.  Still, whether you brew in a
sack or plastic mini-keg, the result will make you smile.  You can’t ask for more than that.

Number Six – have one beer logo glass in your house that is only used for beer.  While
true aficionados have a distinct glass for each style of beer all I’m asking is that you anoint a
single one as your all-purpose beer chalice.  No one touches it.  No liquid other than beer will
ever be poured in it.  No soda, coffee, tea, wine, or even water will ever spill onto its interior.  
Well, maybe water, but only the bottled variety.  The glass will always be carefully washed
but not with soap.   Sorry, but soap residue inhibits the beer’s head from properly forming.  
That cannot be allowed.  The glass will be stored in plain sight as a symbol of your
appreciation of beer.   

A wine snob would ever drink their preferred beverage from an inappropriate vessel so
neither should you.  And for the romantics out there, sorry, drinking beer out of anyone’s
shoe is also out.

Number Five – Drink beer that comes from a bottle with a cork.  W.C. Fields may have
been on to something one afternoon when he said “What contemptible scoundrel has
stolen the cork to my lunch?”  I guarantee you’ll find that cork is used to seal every $500
and up bottle of wine so it’s obvious that when it’s used on a beer something special is going
on.  The beer may likely be a Belgium or an iconoclastic offering from a noted craft brewer,
but the odds are it will be memorable.  Just remember, Miller Chill uses a twist off cap –
enough said.

Number Four- collect at least 10 beer mats and bottle labels.  On one level you will be
the owner of some desirable artwork that you can bring to the next taping of PBS’Antique
Road Show.  On another level you will see that the beer culture is indeed just that, a
culture.  The beer world is obviously about beer but it’s also about classic names,
flamboyant designs, witty slogans, and in the case of the mats, neatness.  Even more, since
every label’s design has been approved by the government, you are in possession of an
item that in one sense reaches back to the ideas of our founding fathers.  History is indeed
priceless.

Number Three – go on a brewery tour.  Macro or micro, it doesn’t matter.  See how
the beer is really made.  Get free samples.   See the big silver vats.  Get free samples.  Watch
the bottle filling machine.  Get free samples. Step over hoses and in beer puddles. Drink free
samples.  Even more, you get free samples!

Number Two- thank a brewer.  If there were no brewers we’d have no beer.  That alone
merits our sincere gratitude.  Furthermore, brewers do not enter the field to get rich.  The
job simply doesn’t pay that much.  These hearty souls put their love of beer ahead of their
quest to buy the house next door to Bill Gates.    Think of them as members of the Mother
Theresa guild of BeerLand.  Even worse for a brewer is that their work is instantly judged by
an often clueless public.  Here in New Jersey, where Coors Light outsells every other beer
made, clueless is indeed king.

When you thank a brewer it not only shows you have good manners it shows you do care
in a way that an accountant cannot quantify.  So, the next time you see a brewer at a bar,
buy him/her (yes the first brewers were mainly women) a beer.  Just be sure it’s theirs.

Number One – We’ve finally reached Number Uno, the top dog, the big enchilada, the
Budweiser of the list.  If you only do one thing this is it.  This one is so big we can’t have just
anyone know about it so I’m putting it in code: 2-21-25-2-5-5-18-14-5-24-21-19-20-19-8-
9-18-20.  To break the code all you need is an official decoder bottle opener.  The opener
has a dial which will translate the numbers into letters and allow you to read the top secret
message meant just for you.  To get your very own decoder opener send in at least five
beer labels (see number four above) and the decoder is yours.  What’s this….management
forgot to order the official decoder beer bottle openers? Ok, ok……I’ll tell you.  I confess it’s
just a lousy commercial: “Buy BeerNexus T-Shirt”.  

And no, that’s not a rip-off of The Christmas Story.  It’s going to be part of my book, The
Beer Story.





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