As political clamor and frenzy begin to build toward
the upcoming presidential election, we of the beer loving community cannot
smugly snicker as if we were above it all.  Now don’t get me wrong, we
clearly are above those monotonous debates on the – yawn – boring stuff
like health care, social security, national defense, tax cuts and the rest.   But
alas, not so when it comes to the seductive power and prestige of being a
beer club’s “member of the month."

Yes even in my small, local group, the beloved HOPS club, it happens.  Now
trust me, the HOPS Club is truly a dedicated group that promotes the
appreciation of all types of beer through, ah, well, consumption.   After all, is
there any better way?   Indeed, we members proudly live by our elegant
motto  “ more than just beer…”, though we often times simply shorten it to
“more beer”.  Just for the sake of efficiency of course.

The most prestigious and revered title in this august group is “Member of the
My goodness, just writing those words brings a chill.  Member of the Month.   
My, now that is impressive.   And talk about rewards. You get an official  
“Member of the Month” pat on the back at every club meeting; a warm round
of applause whenever you enter (or is it leave?)  a room, an offensively
cheap certificate, and the right to ask any bartender in the continental United
States for a free pint.  “Ask”, not “receive” being the operative verb.

The criteria for selection is itself a glowing testimonial to the foresight,
fairness, and spirit of generosity of the HOPS Club’s founding fathers.  All it
takes is for the candidate to submit a certified and duly notarized statement
of what they have done to further the renown of the club and the mystique of
beer.   The theory being – and it is certainly a sound one – that in their
quests for the prize even the losers will have done countless good beer deeds
and that for every pint size good deed done, a growler of rewards will be

Currently we are in the midst of an unprecedented three-month reign of the
great Larry Bremmer, widely proclaimed as the “Beer Sage”.    Space, and the
need to save material for subsequent articles, preclude me from now
recounting his fabulous deeds of beering excellence. But Larry has his work
cut out for him this month.  Oh yes indeed.  Check out this entry:

Dear Judges – here is my true story.  An incident happened this past weekend that I
feel easily merits member of the month consideration and serves as proof positive
that a true beer drinker’s job is never done.   I was peacefully fishing, my passioned
avocation, for the noble steelhead on the banks of the beautiful Salmon River in
quaint Altman, New Jersey.  Ah fate.  Little did I know that shortly my beer expertise
was about to be put to the test for the good and glory of the beerdom.   Due to the
amazing restraint I showed the night before at my local brewpub, despite their
fantastically delicious Eliminator ale (and at 8.5% is that ever a perfect name), I was
a titan of alertness.  My every sense was heightened.  As the minutes and water
rushed by, I surveyed the solitude around me and suddenly spied another fisherman
some 85 feet away. His solitary form silhouetted against the rising sun, a pole in one
hand and, yes, a beer bottle in the other.  

I instantly drew upon my basic training course in beer bottle recognition, advanced
placement level.   This though, was no classroom simulation; it was the real thing.  
Vast distance AND the label was facing away from me.  Then it hit me, like the
sharpness of Anchor Liberty Ale’s hops.  I knew that shape.  It was the classic vessel
of “Old Speckled Hen”!  Being your tireless representative, I waded over to the
hearty angler and respectfully asked if I could see the label.  YES! OLD SPECKLED
HEN!  I proceeded to tell this fine fellow of how impressed I was by his choice of this
fine brew in such a wilderness setting.  He in turn told me of how awed he was that I
could identify his beverage simply by the bottle shape.  Then, I let the secret out.  I
was no ordinary fisherman; I was a member of the renowned HOPS club.

He then thanked me profusely, joyous in the knowledge that his beer choice had been
vindicated by a certified professional.   Yes, another fellow human made happy
thanks to good beer.  He fished on, caring not about his catch but secure in the
comfort that his beverage money had been well spent.  He now knew the unassailable
truth of the prime beer directive: bad beer at a cheap price is no bargain.
Yours in Hops,
Vin Lacovara

All I can say is that Mr. Lacovara is easily worthy of the Member of the Month
title.  But the big question remains, is he the most worthy?  

I can’t wait to open the next entry.  
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.  

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