|Vince Capano is a two time winner of the prestigious Quill and Tankard
writing award for humor from the North American Guild of Beer Writers.
Vince's column is now a regular feature of beernexus.com
Check back often for the next installment of
Vince's Adventures in Beerland
In the limitless pantheon of numbers some are
justifiably more famous than others. People shudder at the approach
of Friday the 13th. Businesses boast they have a toll free 800 number
for customers to call. Roll a 7 or an 11 at Las Vegas and win big
bucks. Watch the hottest cult TV show on the tube and you’ll be
tuned into “24”. But for patrons of Krogh’s brewpub in Sparta, New
Jersey, there is only one number of any importance. That number is
70, as in seventy beers.
Krogh’s, in an explosion of promotional inspiration, awards an
inscribed gold plaque to any hearty soul that drinks 70 of their
outstanding elixirs. Just ask your friendly bartender for a free, official,
“Krogh’s Brew Club” membership card and your adventure begins.
Open this passport to beer glory and you will find seventy neat
squares, ten perfect rows of seven across. Order a beer, get a square
crossed off. It’s as simple as that. Completely fill in your card and, to
quote the handy dandy guide on the back of the card, “you will be
entitled to an engraved plaque (bold italics theirs) with your name or
nickname at or near the location you choose in Krogh’s Bar. There’s no
time limit, either.” Marketing poetry to be sure.
Nothing, however, is ever as easy as it seems. Krogh’s justifiably
makes you earn each and every one of the seventy. Only Krogh’s
brewed beers count. Sorry, no credit for that Budweiser or Coors.
Furthermore, only beers that are personally purchased and consumed
by the same individual are awarded a checkmark on the coveted
card. So, if a generous philanthropist buys you a deliciously hoppy
India Pale Ale or soul satisfying Stout, the only record of it will appear
in your memory, not your card. Conversely, if you buy a round of
refreshing Golden Lager or crisp Pale Ale for the entire bar, your card
will remain untouched by the ever-diligent bartender. Unless, of
course, he sees you actually drinking, but that still would only merit a
single check. Seventy really does mean seventy to Krogh’s
Other pitfalls lurk along the road to the plaque nirvana. Krogh’s
regulars often tell newcomers about the case of one Larry Remmer.
Prizing quality over quantity, Larry was a once a week pub visitor. To
be precise, that’s one visit a week for just one beer. For sixty-eight
consecutive weeks Larry stopped in for his single pint, always tucking
his official Brew Club card safely in his shirt pocket after receiving that
cherished X in yet another square. Then, shockingly, as he walked
towards the Pub on his sixty-ninth visit, a stray parrot from a nearby
traveling circus swooped down and stole the card out of his pocket. At
least that’s the heartbreaking tale according to Larry. Rumor has it he
simply forgot to remove it from the shirt before putting it in the
laundry. Somehow I can’t blame him for the parrot story. Pub
regulars rarely make fun of a wild bird attack but can be cruel to a
bozo that washes his shirt without checking the pockets and ultimately
destroys an almost complete Krogh’s card.
Then there’s the heart-tugging case of Sandy and his girlfriend Karen.
They began their quest for golden plaque fame together and wanted to
complete it together too. Quite the knowledgeable beer folk, they first
visited Krogh’s one rainy Saturday several months ago because of its
renowned brews. After several pints, they proclaimed the beer to
indeed be excellent and were subsequently informed about the magical
seventy club. Intoxicated with the idea of having their names
intertwined on a golden plaque, they touched glasses to seal a promise
that they would drink that final beer together. They agreed that
whoever reached the 69th beer first would simply wait for the other.
At most recent count Karen is now up to an impressive beer
consumption number of 41. Sandy is only at 35. That’s thirty-five,
on his third card. He stopped at 69 on his other two. No one ever
said love is easy. So Sandy waits, proving once and for all, true love is
never having your name on a plaque all alone. Oh yes, Krogh’s
management has said they will give Sandy a plaque for each and every
filled card. Cupid is clearly alive in Sparta, New Jersey.
It is often said that the journey towards a goal is usually more fun than
reaching the destination. At Kroghs that just might be the case. After
all, drinking seventy quality ales is not quite cruel and unusual
punishment, but deciding just where to put that well-earned plaque
could be. Space is at a premium. There are hundreds of plaques
along the dark wood frame border that circles the bar. There are rows
of tightly grouped ones running up and down the narrow posts to the
beamed ceiling. Plaques abound along the far and near corner walls.
A few iconoclastic individuals have even put their golden treasures on
the men’s room door, not illogical since it’s then certain to be seen by
at least half of the patrons.
Some open spaces do exist however. The last semi-pristine area for
plaque placement is near two large windowed doors that lead to the
pub’s brewing vats. Admittedly, that’s in the dark rear of the bar area
but it is, nonetheless, prime real estate. After all, if the purpose of the
seventy-beer club is to encourage the enjoyment and production of
fine craft beer, what better location than near the source of it all?
Placement there provides the ultimate synergy between the creator and
consumer. Each morning, as the brewmaster opens those doors to his
workplace, he sees the names of those for whom he is a godlike
personage. The golden plaques stand in testimony to the fact that the
fruits of his labor are truly appreciated. Perhaps, like football players
who slap a lucky sign as they storm out of the locker room, the Krogh’s
brewmaster touches the glistening plaques each time he steps through
the door, drawing inspiration for his day’s work. And somewhere,
each time he touches a plaque, a seventy-pint drinker smiles.
Some of the more frugal in the crowd may wonder about the relative
cost of one plaque versus seventy beers. Nothing to worry about since
Krogh’s beer is fairly priced. Even better, there is a sign behind the
cash register that proclaims a super deal that is impossible to ignore,
“free beer tomorrow”. While you may have to wait quite a while for
that particular tomorrow to come don’t worry, you can still get your
seventieth beer today.