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
Beam Me Up, Jeff          by   Vince Capano    

As I sat in the warm friendly confines of the treasured Gaslight Pub in
South Orange, NJ, my insight began to grow with each pint of incredibly
good Hop Fest Ale, outstanding Alt, tasty 80-Shilling Ale, and refreshing
Vienna Lager.  Fully fueled for deep thought, I came to realize that there in
front of me was not my amiable, efficient bartender but the reincarnation
of that classic American icon, Captain James T. Kirk of the starship
Enterprise.  Now before you snicker that this is, not some
cyber outpost of science fiction psychobabble, just remember that the
beloved Kirk was the original celebrity endorser of Romulan Stout, Vulcan
Ale, and Klingon Octoberfest.  

Through countless reruns on the SciFi channel I had watched the good
Captain hold sway over his magnificent ship with steely fortitude and
omnipotent power, the personification of wisdom, strength, and bravery.  
He was the unchallenged ruler of his ship and the vast expanse of outer
space – not to mention those commercials and Boston Legal.  
I thought the world would never see the likes of such an individual again,
but even a beer writer can be wrong.   There in front of me, pouring one
pint of exquisite golden elixir after another, was his heir apparent, the great
bartender Jeff Levine.  Flashing from tap to tap across the long extended
deck inside the large wrap around bar, he, like Kirk, commanded all the
minions before him.  Supplicating patrons awaited his attention as 16 taps,
hundreds of bottles, and countless types of glasses of every size and shape
served as his powerful arsenal.  Tall, commanding, and coolly focused on
his task, Jeff was singularly and totally responsible for the well being of
each of us that had come to fill up the 35 barstools in the Gaslight Pub’s
universe.  Proud and strong, he stood alone prepared for any adventure.

At this level of greatness even the seemingly small activities take on
momentous proportions.  I watched in admiration as Jeff rushed to the aid
of a shaking customer, deeply frightened by the cloudy consistency of his
weizen bottle’s contents.  Consoling the poor soul by telling him “that the
way it’s supposed to look”, Jeff held the glass at an extreme angle and
carefully poured in most of the bottle’s contents.  Next, he gently spun the
bottle, and with the glass now held upright, he boldly added the final
drops.  “The best way to distribute the yeast” he told the relieved and
grateful drinker.   

Not one to rest on a single success, Jeff’s eyes searched his domain and
quickly found an empty glass in need of a refill.   Almost instantly, with an
athletic grace worthy of Jackie Chan, Jeff leaped to the stout tap.  Flipping
a sturdy pint glass over his shoulder he caught it at a 90-degree angle and
held it under the appropriate tap until it was about 3/4 filled.  As
appreciative applause began to fill the bar Jeff stood the glass up and then
abruptly stopped pouring.   A shocked silence gripped us all as he waited,
waited, then waited some more.   Finally, as we reached the point of near
nervous collapse, he hit the tap handle again.   The cascading liquid filled
the remainder of the pint, somehow finishing with the clear outline of a
shamrock on the dark foamy head.   This was truly an artist at work.  As
the cheering subsided I finally began to understand what Jeff meant by his
oft repeated expression that “every tap has a personality of it’s own”.

Then, unexpected trouble hit as an unknown voice shouted out that sure to
create a brawl phrase, “what do you have that’s light”?  As a nearly audible
shudder rose from the throng of regulars, Jeff quickly quelled any
problems by firmly answering– “do you want something light in taste, light
in body, light in alcohol, or light in color?”  The troublemaker’s bluff had
been called.  He had tried to insult the pride of the great Gaslight and had
met his match.  Next, almost imperceptibly, a young woman at the far end
beckoned, meekly asking for a Coors.  Moved by her misguided sincerity,
Jeff softly explained that in this brewpub Coors was not available.  
Confused and trying to avoid public ridicule she desperately pointed to the
pint of stout that had just been served and said well, I’ll try that. “It’s a bit
different from Coors” Jeff quietly but firmly said as he poured her a taste
on the house.  He proceeded, without even of hint of condescension, to
generously guide this neophyte pub-crawler through various tastes of the
Gaslight’s eight great brews.  She finally settled on a Pirate Pale Ale,
forever converted to the goodness of craft beer.  Our trusty leader had
saved another soul.

As the evening passed I caught bits and pieces of Jeff’s fascinating
conversations as he roamed his post.  There was his exposition of colonial
recipes for making applejack, an insightful analysis of the results of the
Great American Beer Festival, a treatise on Belgium brews, an explanation
of the German beer purity laws, and a spirited lecture on to the intricate
details of that splendid alchemy that is the beer making process.  It was a
tour de force from a true ambassador of beerland.   Leaning back, I
watched as Jeff moved to the point end of the bar, his slender visage
engulfed in the starlight steaming in from the huge window across the
breathe of the pub’s front. Hands on his hips, he took a moment to gaze
skyward. It was then that I knew.  It was unmistakable. This was our
James Kirk.  That same confident tilt of the head, that same insightful gaze,
that same charismatic attitude that almost demanded to boldly go where no
bartender has gone before.   Jeff was truly the Captain and the Gaslight
pub his starship.   Beam me up Jeff, I need another HopFest!
Beam Me Up, Jeff
Vince Capano