|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
| Bar Observer
by Vince Capano
If you hang around a pub long enough you’re sure to find something that makes
you smile. In addition to the beer that is. All you have to do is look and listen –
become a “bar observer”. Bring a pen, notebook and enjoy. If anyone asks what
you’re doing just pretend you’re writing a novel. If you need a title, try “The Girl with
the Beer Drinking Dragon Tattoo”. It should fool most of the people at the bar, or
at least those who have been there six or seven hours. Anyway, I did just that the
last night and it paid off in quite of bit of entertainment - all without a cover
charge. Herein is my report.
As I was enjoying a pint of Founders Harvest IPA at a local craft beer oasis, a
couple sat down one seat over from me. It was clearly a first or second date. The
male, in an effort to impress, loudly ordered a bottle of “Bud Light for me and a
Coors Light for the lady”. The bartender promptly placed the Coors in front of the
macho man and the Bud in front of his companion. To the bartender’s credit,
neither was served with a glass. I took that as a gesture to the integrity of those
same vessels that at one time had held Kentucky Breakfast Stout, Chimay,
Westmalle, St. Bernardus, and countless other great beers at this bar.
The guy looked at both bottles and promptly switched them saying to his lady
friend, “this one is yours. The bartender here isn’t very good, she wasn’t paying
attention”. Huh? How could anyone tell the difference in taste (or lack thereof)
between these two beers? I was ready to set him straight and thereby defend the
reputation of our bartender but realized it’s never good to argue with an idiot. This
guy would drag me down to his level and beat me with experience.
I leisurely ordered another pint of the Founders and turned my attention to the TV.
The evening news was just coming on. Did you ever notice how they begin with
“good evening” and then proceed to tell you why it isn’t? I was quickly distracted
by a voice saying, to no one in particular, “this beer is so good I want to hug it.”
The voice belonged to my friend Mike, a craft beer aficionado, who was drinking
“Stone Vertical Epic 10”. He graciously offered me a sip and I, just as graciously,
acquiesced. No, not because I didn’t believe him. It’s the practical cynic in me.
I’m the type of person who will accept it when someone tells me there are 4 billion
stars in the universe but has to check if a sign says wet paint. Mike was right; the
beer was huggable, and even better, most drinkable.
As Mike and I chatted, three females who had clearly been at several bars before
this one, rushed in and angrily ordered Lemon Drop shots. Unlike some people
who bring happiness wherever they go, this group obviously brings it whenever
they go. They wanted their shots “NOW!!”. The bartender hesitated and wisely
asked for proof of age. At that, they all took offense, umbrage, resentment, and
even dislike. One of them began to shout over and over, “I’m really 31 but look 29,
you can’t proof me.” I don’t get it either, but don’t expect logic. They were
women. I don’t think women will ever be the equal of men ……until they can walk
down the street with a bald head and a beer gut and still think they are sexy.
The ladies downed their shots, had another round, and started to go. “I need
someone to pay the bill” the bartender said matter-of-factly. “How rude”
responded the woman who was 31 but looked 29. She turned to a now bemused
Mike and asked for a loan. Actually that was a good move. Mike is a pessimist
you see and it’s always a good idea to borrow from someone like that. They
never expect to get paid back anyway.
Mike was saved from his own gallantry when the woman’s friend handed the
bartender a credit card. She promptly signed the bill, and simply said “thanks
(burp)”. At that the bartender nodded and smiled. She was most professional but
she knew the real definition of hospitality – making your guests feel at home even
while wishing they were.
I looked over at the other side of the bar and began watching an ongoing debate
between to purported beer experts. One was saying that Oktoberfest brews were
ales; the other insisted they were lagers. Back and forth they went until the lager
proponent said in frustration, “I’ll agree with you but all that will mean is that we’re
both wrong.” I think they noticed me laughing so I discreetly turned away since
anonymity is essential for any real Bar Observer.
Seated at a small table right behind me were one of the bar’s usual suspects,
Tom, and an attractive blonde. As a self described “Ambassador of Beer” Tom
had earlier left is seat next to me to weave his male magic on said blonde. He
initial move was slick – he brought two bottles of Duvel to her table , said it was
“Belgium Night” at the pub, and he had taken the official Trappist Oath to spread
the word of beer. Not the most believable line but he did bring free Duvel so the
blonde invited him to join her.
They seemed to be hitting it off especially well when Tom began his “never fail
joke barrage”. She was chuckling at all the right spots until he dipped into his
infamous blonde joke repertoire. At that she cut him off by curtly asking that he
get her another Duvel. He dutifully obliged and stood near me as he waited for
two more bottles. “Tom, I think she’s sensitive about blonde jokes”. “Don’t worry”,
he responded, “I’ll tell them to her slowly”. Needless to say, in short order, Tom got
to finish that Duvel seated next to me.
I’m looking forward to being a Bar Observer again tonight. And, no, I don’t worry
about seeing the same old thing. Every night things are different. After all,
change is inevitable……except from a vending machine.