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
The Ugly, The Bad, The Good
I’m sure you’ve noticed – the title of this little treatise is the reverse of Clint Eastwood’s 1966 classic spaghetti (no
meatballs) movie.  That’s because, like quaffing a quality craft beer, the finish should leave you happy no matter how
many Bud and Coors drinkers you have to endure at your local pub. So let’s begins this tale of woe - not to mention
Larry and Curly - at the beginning, which is when my rear end hit the bar stool at The Libertine Pub.  A quick look at
the tap beer menu and I immediately knew something was amiss.  Over a dozen of the twenty beers listed were being
served in glasses less than a pint and a good many of those were 10 ounce ones.  Less is fine as long as the price
reflects the reduced volume.    And in this case the price did indeed reflect something – the leering grin of an avarice
crazed management.   Using the knowledge I gained during a weekend seminar in Advanced Beer Drinking at the
Connecticut School of Art, Broadcasting, and Applied Mathematics I quickly computed the cost per ounce.  Three of
the same beers that a week ago were being sold for $7 a pint were now being served in a 12 ounce glass for $6.50.  
Admittedly $6.50 is less than $7 but 12 is less than 16 too.  Or to put it another way – Red Alert Warning – beer
gouging ahead.  As for the specific increase in cost per ounce well, I never said I got a passing grade at that seminar.

Fortunately, before a massive math induced headache began, my friend John entered the bar and alighted on the
stool next to me.  Besides being a beer drinker, geography maven, and genial man about town, John is good with
figures (even the math ones).  He instantly said “these prices are crazy; most prices are up over 20% per ounce.”
I vigorously nodded in agreement although deep down I thought he was probably guessing.  Then again, I had no
reason to doubt him especially since he won the bar’s annual guess the number beers caps in the bottle contest for
the last three years.  

Being at the mercy of the Libertine’s profit mad impresario we had no choice but to order.  However to register a
protest we each opted for one of the few beers still served in a pint glass.  It was a rather drastic gesture for two
rather calm individuals but sometimes you just have to make a stand against injustice.  Our bartender, Lauren,
scurried to the taps and returned with our beers……. each in a 10 ounce glass.  What?!?   I said to John, “our
protest must have been too strong; they’ve retaliated.”  Not listening, John just stared at his glass in disbelief.  
Instinctively he took a sip, then another, and another.   He muttered a few things that I quite didn’t understand since it
was either in Klingon or a demonstration of the gift of tongues.   Then, turning toward me, he said quite distinctly “this
is wrong.  I’m going to tell her this beer was supposed to be served in a pint.”  

With a gentle voice he called Lauren over and pointed toward that singularly unambiguous line on the menu – “this
beer is served in a 16 oz. glass”.  Lauren nodded in acknowledged of the telltale line and took John’s glass pouring
the remaining beer from his 12 oz. baby size glass into a full sized Coor’s Light shaker pint; then she filled it up.  As
she returned, John with a voice dripping with justification and authority said, “and the same thing happened to
Vince.”  I know you’re thinking it too – John is of a true Champion of Justice fighting for the helpless and thirsty.

Without apology or mea culpa Lauren repeated the sequence of pours to finally make things right.  As John sat back
comforted by the correct amount of beer and warmed by the knowledge that comes with a righteous success he
didn’t hear the unrepentant Lauren telling another unnamed pub regular (Karl, if you really want to know): “hump, did
you see he waited until his glass was almost empty before telling me about it.  He just wanted free beer.”  I think
Lauren’s middle name is incorrigible.

Like a plague of (choose any disease or disaster you like), the downsized glass and the upsized price seems to be
spreading faster than the appearance of Christmas beers on store shelves in October.  With prices sometimes well
over $1 an ounce for some beers it seems prudent for the educated consumer to ask for a taste before ordering.
That practice however has been m
et by another counter insurgency tactic from bar managers.  The following day I
was performing my renowned magic act – while walking down a street I magically turn into a bar – and entered the 75
Main Bar.  They had a decent selection of craft beers but like The Libertine they were charging big bucks for small
pours.  One beer, Dogfish Higher Math, was priced at $10 for a
n 8 ounce pour.  Politely, I asked the bartender for a
taste.  “Sorry sir, we’re not allowed to give samples of that beer.”  When I asked her why she said “I don’t really know,
that’s just what the manager told us.  Maybe it’s because the beer is so strong
; it's 17%.”  I readily admit never having
seen anyone ask for a taste of a scotch before ordering but I have seen it for wine which is in the ABV ballpark of
Higher Math so her answer didn’t convince me.  And by the way, if you want to call something as strong as Higher
Math a beer then it should be treated like a one .  Needless to say I didn’t order the beer, my higher math proved
Higher Math wasn’t worth it.

The bartender seeing my distress quickly asked if I would like to sample anything else.  Well, it was a bar and I was
there to drink beer so, “yes”.  I asked for tastes of two beers and quickly received them.  The only problem was
finding any liquid.  More beer is likely caught in a drinker’s mustache after finishing a pint than was in either of the
glasses. Combined. I immediately contemplated a tip of equal generosity but a quick look around the bar confirmed
that my sample size was not personal but standard, albeit absurd, practice.  Without John there to tell the bartender
about the impossibility of tasting anything from 5 or 6 drops, I caved in and order one of the beers, hoping for the
best.  The beer gods were kind to this faint of heart drinker; my beer was good but needless to say the 75 Main Bar’s
bottom line would not be enhanced by any future  visits from me.  They clearly have forgotten the old adage, a penny
given turns into dollars earned.

Continuing on my roll of bad beer luck my next stop was Tap House 7, inappropriately named since they had 22 taps
and were located on Rt. 15.  At least it seemed inappropriate until, after a few beers, I realized the brilliance of the
name - 22 minus 15 is 7.  The tap lines were clean and the beer was fresh but I was intrigued by their bottle list.
I selected an IPA from a brewery I had never heard of.  The bartender dutifully delivered it and I poured it into a
glass.  Acceptable head, fairly clear body, and an okay nose.  It had some taste but wasn’t anything special.  I then
began to look at the label and noticed the brewing date – It was well over a year old.  All of a sudden the aroma
wasn’t good as good as I had thought; every scent was muted. Flavors of sherry, paper, and cardboard appeared
out of nowhere in my next sip.  Yes, my palate and the bottling date agreed– the beer was old.  Then again, maybe I
just shouldn’t have looked at the label.

The beer h
ad become almost undrinkable.  Doesn’t management have the duty to check the freshness on each of
the bottles they are selling?  And since it was
over a year old why then weren’t they at least selling it at last year’s
price?  Shouldn’t the bartender look at the date before opening it and inform the customer so he can make an
informed choice?  And the most pertinent question of all - what should I do about it now?  Following the WWJD (what
would John do) principle my course of action would be to demand a fresh bottle at no charge or to demand to see the
manager and chastise him on the bar’s beer abuse.  However I knew that either course of action would invite
retaliation.   Maybe I should be less confrontational and just casually point out the date while continuing to drink the
beer with a smile.  The stress of it all was become overwhelming so I turned to mediating on the wisdom of the great
Beer Hunter (or the WWMJD principle - what would Michael Jackson do) and decided to just order  another beer…..
but only from the taps.

Next stop on this beerland adventure was The Hat tavern located in a large, historic hotel.  Rumor has it that several
Presidents slept there though allegedly none ventured into the bar, they used room service.  Trouble seemed
imminent as the beer offerings were printed on chalk boards neatly secured to wooden columns along the bar. It was
just a simple listing of their many taps with no ABV, no serving size, no price, and no descriptions listed.  Is there no
light at the end of this tunnel of beer gloom?  In a moment of weakness I considered ordering a Bud Light as self-
punishment for yet another bad bar choice but then an attentive bartender arrived and said “would you like to see
our beer menu?”  Ah, does macaroni go with cheese, do leaps go with bounds, does duct tape go with kidnappers….

The menu was clearly prepared by someone who knew and cared about beer, and not just because it was on clean
quality paper in an expensive leather cover with a logo of a shoe (okay, it was a hat but a shoe would have worked
too.)  More than just a classy presentation, the menu not only listed, with tasting notes, over two dozen excellent
offerings but also had every bit of information you’d ever want to know about the beer with the possible exception of
the brewer’s home address, phone number, and astrological sign.. And then, just when you think things couldn’t get
any better they did.  In the bottom left hand side of the menu a highlighted box announced:  Happy Hour 4 to 7 PM,
all craft beers $2 off; special Manager’s Flight of four beers in five ounce glasses -$9.  It was only 5 PM so there were
two hours left in the hour which doesn’t make sense unless you’re in a bar.  To sum it up, great place - I tip my hat to
the Hat.  

Buoyed by finding a beer friendly pub I decided to try one more stop, which according to the sign out front was
Nicole’s Ten.  I don’t know if Nicole has nine other places but I’m sure glad she has this one.  The beer menu was
every bit as good as The Hat with a draft lineup that was outstanding.  Happy Hour prices gave the same welcome
relief as The Hat to the ever shrinking wallet of the craft beer drinker.  And there was even icing on the cake.  In
addition to being efficient, professional and friendly, the bartender knew beer; he really knew beer.  He enjoyed
talking about it.  He liked discussing beer. He could have been me if you forget about his movie star looks, abundant
hair, quick wit, and John Cena physique. As we chatted he began to get an understanding of the styles of beer I
preferred.  Seconds later, seemingly out of nowhere, there were three samples of beer on the bar for me to try
before ordering, each glass with an amount sufficient to evaluate the beer.  

Something tells me that if Clint Eastwood were to ride into town you won't find him at the ugly or the bad watering
holes, he'd be at the good - Nicole's Ten and The Hat.


click to contact vince
Oct.. 2016