|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
| Scholar of Suds
All I really ever needed to know about life I learned at the Gaslight
Pub. Far fetched? Nope. Spend some time at this establishment in
South Orange, NJ, enjoy some great beer, and always, always, bring a
notebook. If you pay careful attention, study hard, never miss a glass
then I guarantee you one great education at “Gaslight University”.
History is big at the Gaslight. Lesson one from the proprietor and the
institution’s Dean, Dan Soboti, revealed that beer was the real reason
the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock. Seems they were running out
of it and couldn’t wait any longer to find a better docking site. Really.
That’s having your priorities in order. Forget the milk and eggs, we
Our second lesson revealed that Washington, Jefferson, and Adams
were all home brewers. And how about the fact that by 1686 the
veritable Harvard College itself had 3, count them 3, brew houses on
campus. I guess that’s one definition of higher education. Professor
Soboti went on to tell us that Ben Franklin was fond of saying, “ there
can’t be good living where there is not good drinking” and Martha
Washington beleived that "ale must be had at least twice a day." No tea
parties for them, unless it was in Boston.
In the classical history seminar I learned that it was Sophocles who
personally recommended “….bread, meat, vegetables and beer” to the
citizens of the world. And who could resist ordering another pint when
we were told that the revered Plato advised “he was a wise man who
invented beer.” I got extra credit for inserting “and drinks it too”.
Prefer literature? Wizened lecturer Dr. Dan Hodge, who usually holds
classes along the right side of the Gaslight’s polished dark hued bar so
as to be closer to the taps, often quotes luminaries of the written
word. Last night he read some Henry Miller: “You think man needs
rule, he needs beer. The world does not need your morals it needs
beer….”. Talk about insight! Dr. Hodge followed that with an equally
moving selection by Thomas Hardy: “it was the most beautiful colour
that the eye of an artist in beer could desire, full in body, yet brisk as a
volcano, piquant, yet without twang, luminous as an autumn sunset”.
Obviously he was describing Gaslight’s Eliminator Ale. Almost too
picturesque to drink. Almost.
I do admit to struggling a bit in the foreign language courses.
Language instructor Jeff Levine carefully explained to his rapt students
that if a beer ‘s name ends in “ator”, a most prestigious suffix, it’s a
dopple bock at 18.5 Plato or higher. Huh? I knew I should have held
off going to the rest room during the prerequisite course, “Homer
Simpson from Duff to Bock”.
I next sat in on the Philosophy class under the direction of grad
assistants Brian Lynch and Vin & Judy O’Malley. Nice folks but they
lost me with the depths of the questions. I was in trouble with the
very first query: “It’s necessary of course that each Budweiser have a
born on date to indicate freshness but why is there an expiration date
on sour cream?” Duh. Their next question was even more esoteric: “a
bartender can draw a draft, but how can anyone draw a blank?”
Double duh. Finally I knew it was time to leave when they asked, “if
something as complex as ale is only three letters long shouldn’t there
be a shorter word for “monosyllable”?
Quick, I need another glass of Eliminator.
Scientific stuff? No problem. Give me an original gravity of each ale in
that " black and tan" you ordered and I will instantly know if you'll get
that prized two levels of glorious colors. Instructor DJ Soboti
demonstrated how the Gaslight’s Perfect Stout is an ideal match with
the Pirate Pale but not the scotch ale. To tell the truth I’d gladly drink
either one, separation or not.
Worried about your health? Guest lecturer Larry “The Beer Sage”
Bremmer, holds his well attended seminars next to the popcorn
machine. In his last class he happily cited the Journal of Agricultural
and Food Chemistry that said beer contains prenylated flavonoids,
which are better sources of antioxidants than red wine, green tea and
soy products. My goodness. Could beer be that elusive fifth food
After completing the required courses I bravely took the four pint
tasting exam. I easily identified the first glass as Gaslight’s Illuminator,
a delightful strong ale whose subtle kick was warming to the toes. I hit
another bullseye on pint number two - it was the Eliminator, a
heavenly honey maibock, golden hued and honey laden, it’s 8.2% ABV
providing a most bracing depth. The pressure began to build as I
stepped up to glass number three. Bingo. This was clearly the
Detonator, an “oh my” elixir of power who’s smooth balance exploded
in a finish that clearly said time to get on the bar and dance.
Intoxicated by my success, not to mention that added pint of
Eliminator I had for extra credit, I moved on to level four, the one
reserved for those scholars who settle for nothing less than an "A."
Needless to say your humble writer can now proudly boast that this
semester he will be on the Dean’s List since I hit Number 4 exactly. It
was the Terminator, one beer whose name truly speaks for itself.
I had done it. Four out of four - Illuminator, Eliminator, Detonator,
My only unanswered question was if my headache had come from too
|Scholar of Suds