“Bucket List Plus One"

A few years ago Draught Board 15 CiC Vince Capano
wrote a piece about ten things a
beer lover absolutely
must do. Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman
popularized such an agenda as “The Bucket List”, or
things one wishes to do before he “kicks the bucket”. I
have my own beer bucket list, the items on which for
the most part have already been checked off, having
spent the past forty five years actively collecting “beer
stuff”, touring breweries, visiting brewpubs and beer
festivals, reading beer books, writing beer articles and
yes, having a pint or two on occasion.

The last unchecked priority on my list is a visit to
Munich’s Oktoberfest, which will possibly be
accomplished next year if the preliminary discussions by
DB 15’s cask commissioners about a group trip come to
fruition.

But one additional item was recently checked off that
wasn’t even on the list to begin with, and now that I’ve
completed it I heartily recommend it to be added to
everyone’s beer bucket list: working behind the taps at
a beer festival.

I had mentioned to Gaslight bartender Jeff Levine that I
was thinking of attending the New Jersey Craft Brewer’s
Guild Festival aboard the USS New Jersey in Camden. He
asked why don’t I just come along with him and the rest
of the Gaslight staff because there was plenty of room
in his truck, with the obvious advantages  being free
transportation and no admission charge, and the
drawback being that I’d have to take some turns
pouring beer for the poor unfortunates who had to buy
a ticket. This seemed like a very fair tradeoff so I eagerly
anticipated the event and showed up bright and early at
the Gaslight to help in loading Jeff’s truck with all the
stuff that had to go along, only to find out that HE
wasn’t going, having been summoned at the last minute
to attend a family function. (probably by Mrs. Jeff).

Fortunately, Gaslight brewer DJ Soboti had a reasonably
sized SUV with a sort of rear extension that enabled us
to load four kegs of beer, two coil boxes, what seemed
like about fifty feet of beer lines, tap handles, banners,
flyers, coasters, cases of Gaslight steins, hats and
Tshirts, dump buckets, tool boxes and even a case of
small rubber brains with the Gaslight logo to promote
the Abbey Normal ale.

With DJ behind the wheel, me in the passenger seat and
“Long Haired” Brian Baumann nestled comfortably in the
rear against a frosty keg of Solstice Ale, we set off only
twenty minutes behind our scheduled departure time, in
the wrong direction. I questioned why we were headed
north when we aiming for south and found out we were
traveling towards Rt. 280 to head into Newark and
South Kearny in order to pick up the turnpike at
interchange 15. I guess you’d consider this a direct
route if you consider that  traveling from Newark to  
Washington, DC by way of Pittsburgh is also a direct
route.

But we entered the turnpike without incident, only to
get caught up in the usual Saturday morning parking lot
between interchanges 8A and 7, forcing us to exit the
turnpike and fight the traffic lights on Rt. 130. We
endured 130 for an hour before finding I 295 and finally
arriving in Camden only twenty minutes late after a
three hour trip that normally takes an hour and a half.

We unloaded everything onto two dollies and schlepped
it up to the deck of BB62 where the festival was already
in full swing. Finally we were ready to go and I took my
first shift behind the taps which were situated
immediately past the entrance. This position enabled me
to serve up a little schtick along with the suds.

A couple of festival attendees remarked that we were a
little late, to which I cheerfully replied with a straight face
that the festival organizers requested that we be late. I
explained that ours being the first stop upon entering,
after tasting our beer all the patrons would realize that
they’d found the perfect pint and just stay there,
causing a log jam at the gate. Most just chuckled when
they heard that, but a few more gullible tasters asked
“Really?”.

Actually, this has some degree of truth because one of
the available Gaslight beers was the Oak Barrel Aged
Quad, not exactly the perfect style for a summer day,
but in my opinion the “Best in Show” on that particular
date. A guy from England, working his way around the
other participating brewers, stopped at the Gaslight,
asked for a Quad, and stayed there until the bitter end,
downing at least a dozen samples of the excellent brew.

As a paying customer at other festivals I suppose that
after a few pints I have also asked stupid questions, but
working behind the taps gives one a whole new
perspective. I heard questions like “Are these beers any
good?” and “Do any of these taste like Yuengling?”. One
young lady, obviously a first time festival goer, asked if
she could try more than one.

Many people asked the more sensible question “Which
one do you recommend?”, to which I’d reply,  pointing
to the tap, “start from your right and taste, in order,
the Solstice Ale, Belgo Pale Ale, Abbey Normal Dubbel
Ale, and the Oak Barrel Quad, figuring that they’d get a
much greater appreciation of the beers if they went
from lowest in alcohol and body and lightest in color to
the darker, heavier and much more potent Quad. After
mulling over this sage advice, some went directly to
their left and asked DJ for the Quad. So much for my
recommendation!

The best bit of server/drinker interplay came from a girl
who had two studs in her tongue and a dozen more in
her lower lip, nostrils and eyebrows. She asked for a
taste of the Solstice Ale which I quickly poured, handed
her and watched as she swirled it around her mouth.  
After smacking her lips, which made a sort of tinkling
sound, she commented “I think this tastes a little
metallic”.  Naaaaahhhhh…………Ya think?

But the majority of folks simply asked for their samples,
always with “please” and “thank you” and commented
favorably on the beers. More than a few agreed with me
on the quality of the Quad. Nobody, other than The
Incredible Studded Woman, had any adverse comments,
which made me happy since I’ve always been partial to
Gaslight beers.

A few breaks from working the taps let me get around
to taste the other brewers’ offerings. As at any festival,
most were good, a few were outstanding and one or
two tasted like somebody had filled pitchers from the
bilges below decks of BB62.

Sampling great craft beers on the deck of Admiral Halsey’
s flagship on a beautiful summer day was a memorable
experience. Pouring great craft beer under the same
circumstances is definitely a bucket list item. I’m
certainly glad that one’s checked off. I’d hate to kick the
bucket without having done so.




Cheers!

Dan
Another two
glasses up
article from
Dan Hodge!
Someone
has to say
these things
and it could
only be
Dan!
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Dan  helping to brew the Quad
D.J. Soboti