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
                                    TAP Trip
                                       by Vince Capano     
 
 
The wheels of the bus go round and round, round and round……we were on our
way to TAP-NY, one of the great East Coast beer festivals.  Correction, please put
in an “eventually” before “on our way”.  The forty plus Draughtboard 15 beer club
members and friends on the bus had to endure the torture of a nearly 20 minute
wait for two late stragglers.  Their excuse for being so tardy made great sense, at
least to them: “the club never does anything when scheduled so we figured no one
would have to wait if we were late because that meant we were on time.”  Ah, if
you say so.  Needless to say they would have been instantly declared ex-members
if their lateness caused us to miss even a minute of the 4 hour drinking time at the
festival.  After all, we are a beer club with standards.

As the bus pulled out, our dauntless driver Reggie, welcomed everyone aboard for
the 140 minute ride to Hunter Mountain, NY.  (note- the editor wanted me to write
“two hours and twenty minutes” but as I’m currently trying to conserve internet
space I decided 140 minutes was certainly a greener way to write the time.  Don’t
thank me now, I’m doing it for the children and their children’s children.  In fact, I’m
thinking of entering this column in Al Gore’s “Save the Resources of My Invention
of the Internet Writing Contest.”)  Now where was I before I started saving all that
Internet space?  Oh, as soon as Reggie finished saying hello, our trip’s ad hoc
leader, Jeff Levine, went to the front of the bus and polled the riders as to what
DVD we wanted to watch.  His first attempt at a vote got little attention since most
of the passengers didn’t hear him.  They were already in line at each of the two
keg stations located at the rear and middle of the bus and, as everyone knows,
sounds don’t carry well when kegs are being tapped.  Now before you say it might
have been a tad too early in the morning to have a beer, let me point out that it
may only have been 9:30 AM for us but it was noon at Hunter Mountain,
Switzerland.  I know we were on the way to the one in New York but that’s just
being picky.

Ignoring the fact that he was ignored, Jeff proceeded to declare a winner in the
DVD vote –
Bella Lugosi Meets a Brooklyn Gorilla, widely know as the Citizen
Kane of the one dollar video section in your local supermarket.  After watching
fifteen faux hilarious minutes, the crowd began to realize that neither Bella Lugosi
nor the Brooklyn Gorilla was drinking beer.  That’s when rebellion struck.  Cups,
formerly holding said liquid, were now being thrown at one shaken Mr. Levine.  To
his credit, he instantly caved in and played his, ace in the hole, soothe the savage
beasts, always works with any group not dominated by women, video – The Three
Stooges.  It was their  1935 laff riot “Disorder at the Brewery”.  The intricate plot
has the three principals slapping each other, working at a brewery, slapping each
other, drinking beer, slapping each other, driving a truck full of beer kegs, and
slapping each other.  In other words, it’s one of their best.

The bus steadily rolled on as Moe, Larry, and Curly worked their cinema magic.  
Even the Shemp episode that followed was politely greeted.  Then, as the last
segment ended to the tune of Three Blind Mice, the Stooges’ majestic theme
song, silence gripped the crowd.  It was now 11:15 AM; our destination was less
than 45 minutes away.  More than a few made yet another trip to the on-board
kegs in an effort to keep their wrist and arm warmed up for the necessary lifting at
the festival.   A few others practiced putting on various game faces in the mirror,
much to the chagrin of driver Reggie who complained he couldn’t see what was
behind him.  Others studied the map of last year’s festival hoping to plot a route to
most efficiently visit each of the 38 breweries in attendance.   Several rookies just
began to shake knowing the moment of beer nirvana was close at hand.  One lone
voice in the back simply yelled for more Stooges. This group was primed for
action.

Then we saw it – Hunter Mountain!  Despite being several miles away, the ski
trails of “the Matterhorn of New York” were clearly visible from every window on the
bus.  We chugged up a steep, winding, never ending, near vertical, single lane
road.  Now we were less than a ¼ mile away and the smell of freshly poured
festival beer seemed to engulf the bus.  Then, suddenly, we lurched forward to a
bone jarring stop.  Reggie, to our shock, had slammed on the brakes.  Could it be
a breakdown?  A blown tire?  A passenger with the swine flu?  No, Reggie had to
go the bathroom.  This was the first time in the history of the world that the every
passenger on a beer drinking bus had wished the vehicle did not have a
restroom.  As Reggie briskly bounced to the back of the bus he answered our
silent stares by repeating over and over, “when you gotta go, you gotta go.”

Finally,the bus pulled in to the Hunter Mountain Resort’s parking area.  Reggie
neatly navigated away from the close to the main building, wide open spaces and
headed to the last spot in the huge lot.  We knew better than to even think about
asking why.  The bus’ door squeaked open and out we poured in full sprint toward
the festival ticket booth.  There we found the man who had actually planned the
trip, DJ Soboti, waiting for us with our tickets, wrist bands, festival programs, and
wine glasses inscribed with “Hunter Mountain”.   This guy just reeked with
efficiency even if he didn’t know why Hunter Mountain was giving out wine glasses
instead of beer ones.

Our group went into the main lobby area and it all lay before us -over one hundred
and twenty five beers to sample, an array of food sitting there for the taking,  and
lots of friendly beer loving people.   Some of our contingent immediately headed
for the rest rooms, some for the food, but 99.261% went for the beer.  As noted,
we are a beer club with standards.

As the hours of tasting mounted, spontaneous cheers of USA mingled with the
required hooting in tribute to the inevitable broken glass.  Strangers began
recommending beers to one another, brewers were happily expounding on their
creations, and countless smiles were exchanged between those on both sides of
the pouring stations.  Every tilt of a tap handle had become a celebration of the
brewers’ art. This festival, like the beverage being served, was exciting, satisfying,
and most of all, great fun.  

And we weren’t leaving until they shut the place down.
TAP Trip
by
Vince Capano