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|If it’s Sunday at 3 PM it’s time to settle in and tune the TV to the Food Channel for my favorite
program, Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives with Guy Fieri. Now the show would be great on any day of the
week but it’s twice as good on Sunday since that’s when Food Channel shows back to back adventures of Mr. Fieri
traveling the USA tasting food at every (what else) diner, drive-in, and dive that he can find. With subject material
like that DDD could to go on for at least several millennium and that’s just for dives.
As I sat there last Sunday returning Guy’s goodbye wave as he hopped into his trademark iconic red 1967 Chevy
Camaro convertible, it struck me that if food can have its own TV channel then certainly beer deserves one too. And
when that happens I want to be the beer version of Guy Fieri, sans tattoos, which I don’t want, and the classic
Camaro which I can’t afford.
Yes, it’s my own show; welcome to Bars, Pubs, and Gin-Mills. It’s an easy concept but just in case the network wants
some specifics here are six places I’ve visited recently that would be perfect for the first episodes of BPGM.
Episode One - Bean Town Pub, Boston, MA.
The Bean Town Pub is a nice bar. There are worse and there are better but this bar has one thing that no place
else can match. I invite the viewer to take a seat with me on one of the many stools near the long window on the
near side. From there history lays before us in the shape of a graveyard. It is an historic one for sure; it reaches
back to colonial times. The waitress comes by and I ask for a Sam Adams beer. And no, it really doesn’t matter
which of the many Sam Adams varieties she brings; it only matters that it is a Sam Adams. “Hey, be sure that my
Sam Adams is extra cold” I ask as the camera pans to the bartender reaching deep to the rear of his cold box.
As I take that first sip I point to the graveyard and the camera follows along. Slowly it zooms in and focuses on a
single grave site. It’s a bit hazy at first but then we see the name on the crumbling tombstone, Samuel Adams, United
States founding father. Next, in a voice over, the viewers hear me say, “There’s no place in the world like the Bean
Town Pub. It is, without dispute, the only place where you can have a cold Sam Adams while looking at cold Sam
Episode Two – Verona Inn, Verona, NJ
It’s still early in our series but we need to get off to a solid ratings start so it’s time for our first gin mill visit. People
like gin mills and the Verona Inn definitely qualifies. We have the camera car drive past the place since that’s what
everyone does the first time they seek it out. We double back and focus on a small sign, well hidden by weeds and
unknown varieties of dangerous green plants, on the upper edge of what, from the road, is only a narrow, stone filled
driveway. The reason it looks that way is simple - it’s a narrow stone filled driveway. We slowly head down the 50
foot long steep descent until we finally see a well worn building boasting an equally well worn sign, “Verona Inn”.
The camera follows me as I enter and select a seat at one of the twenty padded stools around the bar. That takes a
while since it isn’t easy finding one that isn’t cut, written on, or bent. Don’t worry, that can only help the show’s
“All Buds and Coors $2 during NFL games” shouts the sign next to the one that screams “All 24 ounce glasses $3 off
during Happy Hour”. Sadly there is no sign that indicates exactly what happens if you order a 24 oz. Bud during
Happy Hour while an NFL game is on. Maybe they pay you to drink.
Episode Three - Church Brew Works, Pittsburgh, PA
The scene opens with pictures of stained glass windows adorned with saintly figures drinking beer. Gregorian
chants that sound amazingly like retro beer jingles are heard in the background. Then we see it – a church. But this
can’t be the place no matter how much our GPS insists is it. However, when in doubt go with technology.
Just in case services are being held we enter the dark, damp vestibule with appropriate solemnity. But then we see a
sign that explains it all in a few simple words, "this is a decertified Catholic Church". Who would have known that
churches go out of business too?
We enter the main area and it looks as holy as ever until we notice the long winding bars along both sides of the
building and the small tables in the pews. The confessional boxes now offer seating for two, with candles providing
It’s a big place so our walk to the front is long enough for the camera to take in the beautiful archways and high
ceilings. And then we’re there, the main alter where worshipers for years had knelt in prayer. We look up and there,
behind the rail, bathed in soft gold lighting (appropriately beaming down from above), stand seven massive copper
and silver tanks. Only a fool could now deny that beer is indeed a gift from God. I kneel down and as we fade to
commercial, say, “Our Lager, which art in barrels, Hallowed be Thy Drink…..”
Episode Four – Dave’s Bellport Cold Beer & Soda Outlet, Long Island, NY
This place is an “outlet”, not a bar, a pub, or even a gin mill. Don’t worry, our viewers won’t mind since it does have
beer and that's all what really matters. We begin the show with a few seconds of our car taking exit 30E off the Cross
Island Expressway, navigating a few turns, and arriving at a scruffy, stand alone building dominated by a single sign
says all you need to know about this place – “Over 800 Varieties of Beer”.
While the interior of Dave’s is just as scruffy as the exterior the viewer will instantly be enthralled by the
kaleidoscope of labels from the row upon row upon row of beer, beer and more beer. It’s a visage of majestic,
hypnotic, beauty. We meander through a merry-go-round labyrinth of beer until we reach the rear of the store and
its golden ring of taps. Yes, not only does Dave have over 800 varieties of beer in bottles he also dispenses 12 taps
of beer gems and two hand pumps for his cask conditioned ales.
Next to the taps are boxes that stretch from floor to ceiling. Each box holds 6 official“Dave’s Bellport Outlet”
growlers. I ask Dave for a pint but he informs me that legally he is not allowed to sell in glasses, only in growlers.
Ah, now I understand why there were no bar stools around. It also explains the two guys lounging on the floor
drinking from large glass jugs.
Dave points out he is allowed to provide free samples and he quickly goes about doing just that. Many samples
later, growler in hand, I wave goodbye to the camera, as do the two others sitting next to me on the floor.
Episode Five- Stewarts Brewing, Bear, DE
The episode begins with a close up of a GABF Gold Medal. As the camera pulls away we see it was awarded to
Stewarts for their German Style Kolsch. That immediately hooks the serious beer buffs and drags in those who just
like to be around winners. The bar is long and circular bar with a chalkboard beer menu on one side and a dart
bard next to the glass enclosed brewing tanks on the other. It’s picture postcard perfect. But this episode it’s not
going to be about the place but about people. Human interest stories always hit home so it’s time to interview a few
of the patrons.
One couple is intently watching a Delaware Hens minor league baseball game on one of the many large screen TVs
in the place. I ask if they like beer. They say, “we didn’t know this was a brewpub when we walked in. We each just
had a double scotch, now we’re trying the beers.” Guess that shows you the power of scotch. As they finish a pint
the bartender asks if they want the pub’s eight beer sampler. They nod yes. Hail to Ninkasi, we have converts.
Farther down the bar sit three female senior citizens playing the MTM Trivia game. They tell me they’re here every
Tuesday and Thursday afternoon to play and drink. What’s not to admire about three Betty Whites who love beer?
One of the ladies shows me a Stewarts’ poker chip. She explains that every time she comes in she always orders the
beer sampler but often can’t finish it. She explains that Stewarts is so nice they give her a token for a free
replacement beer on her next visit. Now that’s a feel good story perfect for our Christmas week episode.
Episode Six – Defiant Brewing, Pearl River, NY
We open with a voice over by famed beer writer Dan Hodge: “This is the Beer Hotline” reporting from Pearl River,
New York. I’m here at the Defiant Brewing and this should definitely be your next stop on the BPGM tour since it’s a
little bit of each”. When Dan speaks we listen; Defiant here we come.
The camera moves into the pub past several hard working fans. No, not people who really like the place, fans as in
there are no air conditioners here. This is a no frills gin mill. Better make that beer mill since Defiant only serves
beer. No gin, no whiskey, no nothing, just beer. The bar is long and the room narrow. There are no tables, only
stools at the bar. Clearly the money has been spent on the decorations - ten, count’em ten, large silver tanks that
proudly stand behind the bar.
The pony-tailed bartender moves away from playing on the bar’s inlaid chess board and asks my name. When I tell
him he turns over a coaster and writes it down. My first guess is that his memory is in Alzheimer’s land but
that’s not the case; that coaster will serve as my bill. Have a beer, get a check mark next to your name. When it
comes time to figure out the bill just add up the check marks and multiple by $5. I can't believe I forgot to bring an
“An IPA, please” I tell the bartender. The camera takes a long, lingering shot of the bar. I speak for everyone
watching at home when I say, “Huh, where are the taps?” The answer is obvious – there aren’t any. Now before you
say nice place to visit but you can’t get a beer there the bartender picks a mug and walks over to tank #5 marked
IPA. He reaches down and turns a small spigot at the bottom of the tank. I watch my glass fill. Beer directly from the
serving tank – no wonder Dan Hodge made this a Beer Hotline call. I can almost hear the viewers applauding and
drooling at the same time.
So there you have it – Bar, Pubs, and Gin Mills. It’s sure to be a ratings blockbuster. And if wishes do come true,
one day Guy Feiri will co-host an episode with me!
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