is a two time winner of
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Tankard national writing
award for humor from
the North American
Guild of Beer Writers.
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|The odds were at least ten bazillion to one, give or take a zillion or so that In a single
day two different individuals would tell me, and I do quote accurately - “you’d have been very proud of me
last night. I drank a Bud Light!” Right, about as proud as the Captain of the Titanic was of his navigator or
Mr. Ford was of son Edsel's flop car.
For the record, when it comes to almost anything but beer, these folk are extremely bright and discerning.
Both however never drink beer (needless to say, their Bud Light experience kept their record intact).
Maureen, you see, is a wine drinker. Christina is a Captain Morgan devotee. The only thing they have in
common is that I have recently been lobbying them to give good beer a try. I guess it’s the Mother Theresa
in me. Still, this job wasn’t going to be easy especially since neither ever use the words “craft” and “beer” in
the same sentence.
Maybe their hatred of beer can be traced back to their childhood. It’s possible they were frightened by
circus clowns reenacting the Big Top’s version of H.G. Well’s War of the Worlds. As the clown Martians
moved toward the crowd little Maureen and Christina began to scream. Fortunately a kind nurse sitting next
to them gave each a sip of her beer to calm them down. Then, at that very moment, the ring announcer
screamed to everyone to leave the building because several hundred lions and tigers (no bears) had just
escaped. Based on my PhD in psychology from the online extension program at Whatsamatter U., I’m
fairly convinced that they don’t drink beer now because it reminds them of that frightful day.
Well, it’s either that or they tasted beer once and just didn’t like it.
Maureen’s wine proclivities are so well known that when she walks into most pubs a glass of quality
Chardonnay is daintily sitting on the bar before she even settles into her seat. Such was the case one
recent Friday at the venerable Tap Room bar. Happy Hour was just about ending. It’s always easy to tell
when that happens – people begin to leave since the prices are changing. Being on a writing research
mission and an incredibly generous BeerNexus expense account, I stayed, despite the increased tariff.
Remaining with me in defiance of the economic law of demand were BeerNexus colleagues Arty
Hannemann, Dan Hodge, and Arny Lands. (Actually, I don’t have an expense account but I still wasn’t
going to leave; it was Arny’s turn to buy.)
Maureen said a gracious hello to all, took a quick sip of her wine, and then told us about her Bud Light
epiphany the prior evening. Not wanting to be rude Arny was able to hold his laughter until he reached the
men’s room. Arty looked bemused and ordered another Firestone Walker Double Jack IPA. Dan simply
wandered away on his eternal search for a true session beer. It was now up to me to nudge Maureen into,
if not Beerland, then at least its outer suburbs. I commended her adventurous Bud experience and
suggested she chug her still cold Chardonnay and get ready for a real beer experience. It started with a
Duchesse De Bourgogne.
As I was pouring Arty intoned with regal flourish, “A Duchesse from Belgium for a Duchess from America” .
He claimed it was a line from Shakespeare. The beer poured a deep brown/red with a nose of wine, plums,
oak, and apricot. The Chardonnay like oak notes had to be reassuring as was the glass itself. No scary
shaker pint here, but a most appropriate vessel that resembled a wine goblet. At ease, Maureen tasted her
first Belgium beer. A smile slowly spread across her face as she reached for the bottle. “This is so good I
had to make sure this was really a beer” she said.
Hello Houston, we have made contact!
I opined about the beer’s great interplay between the raspberry tartness you'd expect from a Flanders red
and the malt backbone that provided the needed sweetness. Maureen, not really listening, continued to sip
the beer. For some reason she never let the bottle go. She probably sensed that as soon as she put it
down I was instantly ready to pour those last remaining ounces in my own empty glass.
Beer was winning but what would I have her drink next? Needing time to think about my next selection I
simply ordered three more bottles of the Duchesse. It seemed to make sense. By the time she finished I
had her next five beers planned out. A small misstep in selection could easily undue this great start but my
plan was foolproof. There was only one thing I hadn’t counted on. “That’s it for me. Think I’ll be going.”
What?? Not now; not when you’ve broken the Bud Beer Barrier. My efforts had failed. Despondent, I
wished Maureen a safe drive home. As she left, she asked one last question. “Where can I buy that
Duchesse beer?” Now it was my turn to have a smile slowly spread across my face.
I really didn’t know much about Captain Morgan but I knew it wasn’t wine. A bit of research revealed that
Captain Morgan is, by volume, the second largest brand of spirits in the United States, and the seventh
largest worldwide. With a slogan of "To Life, Love and Loot" it wasn’t hard to see that the Duchesse De
Bourgogne might not have the firepower to sink that pirate in Christina’s eyes. I decided to first lull this
Captain acolyte with familiar flavors and then suddenly unload a beer broadside. I started with Innis & Gunn
Rum Cask Oak Aged Beer.
As Christina entered the Tap Room later that evening I immediately began pouring the Innis & Gunn, half a
bottle for her, half for me. Hey, I had to try it. Who knows, maybe this beer would convert me to the
Captain’s side. Actually it was a nice tasting beer, except for the rum flavors.
Somewhat reluctantly Christina took a sip. “Hey, did you pour some Captain Morgan into a Bud?”
“No,but did you enjoy this beer’s molasses-like flavors, brown sugar, oak, vanilla, nutmeg, and caramel?”
She looked at me like I was crazy. Undaunted, I continued with the plan. I nodded toward the bartender
and instantly a bottle of Rogue Hazelnut Brown Nectar aged in Rogue's own Hazelnut Spiced Rum barrels
was in front of us. “How do you like this beer”, I asked. “Well”, she said, “ I think the hazelnut and chestnut
come through up front, followed by wood and oak characteristic, white rum and slight touches of sweeter
honey and vanilla.” Now it was my turn to look at her as if she were crazy.
The setup was complete. It was time for a serious beer barrage. Enter Arty with a bottle of Rodenbach
Grand Cru. The beer’s flavors of tart cherries, sugary apples, and grapes seemed to shake Christina free
of her beer prejudice. Next, came some heavenly artillery – bring on the monks! “This beer is called Orval.
The Trappist Cistercian monks of Orval, Belgium make it” I said in the voice I use when practicing
Gregorian chants. I knew Christina couldn’t help but enjoy its tangy bready yeast, orange blossom, and
dried nectarines flavors. The brew’s rich texture and fine balance of astringency with sour sweetness can
sway anyone. Orval was a winner.
As for why I picked Orval , well, the main reason was that it was “Trappist Tuesday” at The Tap Room
meaning that Orval was $4 off. Right, it was my turn to buy.
The plan called for Dan to join in by ordering a Dogfish Midas Touch followed by Arny going for the hops
with a Ballast Point Sculpin IPA. The BeerNexus team was rolling but it was getting late and Christina was
bidding adieu. She thanked us for an educational evening and said she would never again think Bud Light
was what beer is all about. I mentally gave our team a rousing standing ovation for making another convert
to craft beer.
As I waved my beer glass in a farewell gesture Christina promised that the next time she visits her local bar
the first drink she orders will be a beer.
“I’m not going to ignore beer anymore. I think I’ll try the one they call Coors Light”.
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