Ramblings .......Continued

For BeerNexus.com

So yes been doing a bunch of traveling recently and found myself In Terminal C at
Newark, since I fly mostly United, for an early flight out. And in case you’re wondering,
yes I wear a flak jacket, shoulder pads and an old football helmet just in case I’m the
one they pick out to throw off the plane; better to be safe than sorry these days.
They’ve been doing a lot of remodeling in that terminal lately. They took out all the
moving walkways down the middle so now you have to actually walk, which really
means they’re just looking out for your health; knowing that you’re late and will have
to run to the next to last gate (why don’t I ever fly out of one of the first gates in the
terminal…) thereby building your heart rate up.

Like we should all assume they’re just looking out for our health…Not. But there is a
method to their madness as they’ve now installed more restaurants right down the
middle; lots of big screens, a well-stocked bar, lots of bar stools in various places to
sit and yes those new touch screens to order. I’m not a big fan of them, but I guess
you don’t have to have a bunch of menus lying around and technically you could
update all the menus quickly, if you know how to operate it. So maybe not such a bad
idea once you get used to it. But as I look again I see a bunch of taps in about four
different sections.

I’m curious to see what they have, not that I’m thirsty, its early morning and they’re
not serving. So I amble over to check them out and get quite a surprise. It’s not all
the usual suspects like Stella and Corona; there’s a Bronx Pale Ale and a Sierra
Nevada Pale Ale. It’s early so I rub my eyes and go to check out another set of taps;
there’s a Kane, a SmuttyNose and a Czig Meister. Wow this is pretty amazing for an
airport terminal. But there’s more so I head to the next group of taps and there’s a
River Horse and a Saugatuck Neapolitan Milk Stout.

So if I was stuck in Newark airport there was more than enough variety for me to
choose from and wile the time away. But that’s the key, you’re only there if you have
a ticket and just went through security and are waiting to leave, which usually is an
hour and a half or so, or you just landed in Newark. Now if that’s your destination, you’
re headed right by this place to baggage claim and out the door. If you’re connecting
in Newark then you might be stuck there for a while and might want to indulge in a
few between flights; unless of course you have a club pass which makes food and
drink much more reasonable.

So there’s a ton of foot traffic there, but do they have enough business to turn over
all the different craft beers they have? I would think they might have a tough time with
that. Reminds me of a local watering hole with 32 taps and a great selection of craft
beers, with had a ½ price craft happy hour. And we were very happy to frequent
them at least every Friday. Then they switched happy hour to Coors Light and Blue
Moon specials so needless to say the craft beer drinkers don’t go there anymore and
their craft beer selection hardly turns over.  I don’t plan to buy plane tickets just so I
can go through Security to see how quickly they’re turning over their beers, but I will
take a look my next trip to see what they have… Must admit that’s the type of
pleasant surprise you like to see when you’re traveling.

In case you haven’t noticed we are now in full beer festival swing and yes I’ve been to
a couple already. Many are just about the beer while others mix in other stuff like
beer and bacon or beer and bbq or beer and country music or beer and quilting; hey
whatever brings em in.  One of the best is Tap NY, which this year had a record over
500 beers being poured. When there are that many beers you absolutely need a
strategy; trying as many as possible will probably just knock you out for a day or two
or you might just fall in the mud and hope others in your group will help you back to
the bus. Being able to remember some of the beers you had and new breweries
should also be a goal. So besides that ring of pretzels around your neck bring a
small notebook and a pen; making a few notes will enhance your memory
considerably. And print out the festival guide in advance so you know which ones are
new to you. Think of it as a mini-vacation. You will spend time planning what you’ll
do/see each day of a vacation; well a little planning pays dividends at a festival also.
Don’t start out at the first tent/station as you walk in the entrance as many do, it’s way
too crowded; walk halfway or to the back where it’s less crowded. Enjoy that space
while it still exists as it’s bound to get crowded as the day progress.

And one of the most important things to do is not only to thank those pouring the
beer, but talk to them. True some of them are volunteers so may not know much
about the beer or brewery, but many are brewers and/or representatives who are
there because they love what they do and want you to try their beer. If you like it, tell
them! If there’s time, meaning there aren’t twenty-five people behind you yelling at
you for holding up the line and which can usually be accomplished by stepping to the
side, talk to them about how long they’ve been brewing, where they’re located, about
the types of beers they brew, etc.. Many of them would love to chat with you for a few
minutes, remember they want craft beer drinkers to try their beer and hopefully look
for it again. If you didn’t like it, don’t insult them, just move on. It can make for a more
memorable time.

And the same goes for a tap takeover at your favorite place. Many times a brewer or
area rep or distributor rep will be there. They didn’t come just to hand you a glass or
coaster or key ring. They came to talk about the beer and brewery, so all you need
to do is introduce yourself, tell them what you’ve tried, ask them a few questions
about how long they’ve been in the state, how’s it going, how many states are they in,
how are people responding to their beer and off you go. You may be surprised what
you’ll learn about the brewery, beers, marketplace, etc. spending a few minutes
talking with them.  So yes you’re primarily interested in tasting the beers, but it can
be more interesting if you’re a little more involved.

Okay I’m off to my next tap event…

Glenn DeLuca writes about beer and culture of drinking. He may
be reached by writing thebigG@beernexus.com.

***   ***   ***
Glenn DeLuca
Outtakes from a life of beer.
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