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
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Vince's  Adventures in Beerland
Vince's Adventures in Beerland Archive
Welcome to Beerland          by   Vince Capano    

I’ve sometimes wondered about the moment when other beer drinkers
crossed over from macro beer consumer to micro aficionado.   My own
journey to Craft Beerland can be traced to two defining moments of
wondrous epiphany that led me to dwell in the house of good beer
forever.   Perhaps my tale is simply one of serendipity, but I prefer to
believe it was part of a divine master plan; a kismet of beer.  I’ll let you be
the judge.  Traveling from Montreal to the Garden State of New Jersey I
decided to stop for dinner in the small town of Suffern New York where, by
sheer chance, I came upon the now defunct Mountain Valley Brewpub.  The
dark cave like interior – design clearly not its strongpoint – led to an
oblong copper bar.  As the only patron, perhaps an unfortunate omen of
the pub’s future, I was quickly asked, “what’ll you have?” immediately
followed by “the only beer we have is what we brew here”.  Egad.  They
must be kidding.  Too tired to depart for a “real” bar I ordered a pale ale,
mainly because I had no idea that the other listed items, porter, stout, and
IPA were even beers.  I was however totally positive “ale” meant “beer”.  
Besides, my esoteric beer credentials were impeccable; after all I had been
the first on my block to sample Miller Genuine Draft and Coors Extra Gold.  
Badges of courage in my crowd.

“Wow” was about all I could say.  Other than “it tastes so fresh” (right
bozo, this was a BREW pub) that is.   And then the stunning realization hit
that this golden elixir may have looked like my regular beer but that it was
so tasty it just might not really be beer.  At least not beer as I knew it.  
This actually had body, bite, and flavor.  Of course I couldn’t identify
exactly what the flavor was.  My first thought was they must have used an
extra measure of one of those high quality ingredients listed on my Bud
cans.  Right, had to be the corn.   But, being a practical, not technical soul,
I quickly concluded who cares how it’s made …as long as they never run
out of it!

But there’s more.   The good gods of beer heaven continued to shine upon
me as an amiable, gregarious, bearded gentleman emerged from an office
door and introduced himself as “Lon”.  He proceeded to give me a friendly
tutorial in beer and brewing.  And yes, he generously included ample
samples to explain and illuminate his glorious products.  Sometimes the
good deeds men do live on even when if don’t know it.  I’m sure Lon has
absolutely no recollection of that fateful day and his heroic actions yet I
always count it as my “born on” beer date.

But wait.  Please don’t think the rest of my journey from beer buffoon to
solid Beerland citizen was now total and complete.   Before the explosion in
craft beers it was oh so easy (read convenient) to simply return to buying
Coors or Bud regardless of my new found preference.   Most stores carried
little else.  It took another singular event of monumental impact to
complete my transition.  One lazy evening, switching channels on TV, I
inadvertently came upon the local PBS station.  There he was.  Michael
Jackson.  The Beer Hunter! For the record I must admit that I had no idea
just exactly what a beer hunter was but I knew instantly when seeing
Michael Jackson that he was it.   Here was an amazing raconteur with a
mesmerizing lyrical style.   In the very first scene I saw he stood
somewhere in the bowels of a Trappist monastery where he spoke of
monks who made beer “not to refresh the body, but to sustain the soul”.  
Now that’s a poetic Pied Piper of beer by any definition.
Watching one segment of this series sealed my conversion. I was now
totally committed to leaving the land of tastelessness, never ever to
return.   I vowed to happily accept the fact that I might just have to drive
an extra 5 or 10 or (gasp) 20 miles to find a tasty craft brew.  How could I
not have realized this before?  True insight is indeed a wondrous and thirst
quenching thing!

Of course compared to the exalted knightly standards of the one and only
real Beer Hunter I am still only a lowly novice assistant squire hunter.  
Nonetheless, a beer hunting I often go.  I take it as a personal duty and
challenge to discover and, most assuredly, drink, as many new beers as I
possibly can. This weekend's quest was especially successful as I
discovered two, new to me, brews.   I began the evening by unhesitatingly
ordering, and thoroughly enjoying, multiple pints of “Yellow Snow”.  
Fortunately, it’s not what you’re thinking. This was a fruity, well-balanced
treat from the brewers at Rogue.  I followed that with another discovery, a
unique offering
“Love Stout”.   This dark, roasty, creamy brew from was actually made with

And there’s one more thing that made it all even more satisfying.  I had to
travel  37 miles to the reach the pub that had these on tap.  Thirty-seven!  

I hope Lon and Michael will be proud of me.
Welcome to Beerland
Vince Capano