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
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Vince's  Adventures in Beerland
Does spelling count??                     by   Vince Capano    

Sometimes it’s not easy spreading the gospel of good beer.   In fact,
sometimes it’s not easy just minding your own business while looking for a
beer, good or otherwise.   I received an invitation to an engagement party
along with my buddy Joe, a fellow craft beer lover.  Since we assumed the
festivities would be Bud and Coors dominated we decided to first stop at
whatever brewpub was closest to the address on our invitations.   That was
our first hurdle – the party house was in the town of Rolling Rocks.  While
we were long time acquaintances of the green bottled fermented beverage
of the same name we were stumped as to where this place was located and
amazed that anyone in New Jersey would want to name their town after a

Now before you think we were the typical directionally challenged males,
we did know were every brewpub in the state was precisely located.  
Indeed, that’s the way we usually gave directions - “go a few miles past the
Gaslight....... it’s near that overpriced brewpub in Berkley Heights........ it’s
north of that brewpub that never makes a hoppy beer.”  As fate would
have it a quick check of told us that was exactly where
Rolling Rocks was actually located -north of  the brewpub that seemed to
believe IPA meant some pot hole marred highway in Pennsylvania and IBU
was police jargon for identity thief - I’m not me, I Be You.   At least we
now had a frame of reference- the Long Valley Brewpub.

It was a 55 minute drive to Long Valley where, after drinking four pints, we
were ready for the evening's festivities.  Off we ventured, turning right out
of the parking lot, boldly going where no real beer fan had gone before.  
We were now in the wooded despoliation that is northwest New Jersey.  It
only took us a few (if you define “few” as over 25) miles of travel to realize
we were lost.  Ok, maybe we did have more than four beers at Long
Valley.   Now, for the record, I had asked Joe to buy a growler of the
brewpub’s beer as protection against getting lost.  It really wasn’t logical
but Joe liked the idea anyway.  However, to his everlasting discredit he
declined saying I should be the one to purchase said growler.  With both of
us experiencing monetary shortfall we agreed our best course of action was
not to get lost.  Just goes to show you what happens to the best laid plains
since we were now totally lost and more importantly, beer-less.  

Joe, realizing our dire predicament, suggested we go back to the brewpub
and stay there for the evening.  Clearly he did not fully appreciate the
meaning of lost.  I reminded him that we were in an area where it seemed
that street signs and lights were like good beer at a Budweiser distributors’
convention.  We began to drive, and drive, and drive, cursing MapQuest
with every passing minute.  Then fate reached out to touch us.   We looked
up and there to our right was a single, small, lonely street sign which
appropriately read Hidden Mountain Road.  This could be it if we were
actually in Rolling Rocks.  We traveled along a narrow winding road that
went nearly straight uphill for at least a mile.  At the crest we again were
favored by the god of bacchanals.  A single mailbox posted at the top of
the hill had a gold #44 on it.  This had to be it.  Another quarter of a mile
drive brought us to the largest house either of us had ever seen.   Our way
was clearly lit by the glow of lights from the several dozen windows facing
us.  Music filled the air as we saw couples dressed in what were clearly non-
rented formal wear entering the house’s massive front door.  We
immediately wondered if our attire, jeans and Gaslight Brewpub shirts were
formal enough.  I felt especially sorry for Joe since my shirt at least had a
collar on it; but then again, at least his was clean.

Once again Joe had a solution for our sartorial mistake.  “Let’s go back to
the brewpub”, a suggestion that is almost always appropriate regardless of
the situation.    “Look”, I said, “the worst thing that could happen is that
they’ll think we’re part of the help and send us to the kitchen where we can
get some beer.”  We parked the car near the stable and guest house and
bravely walked the several hundred yards to the house.   It only took two
steps inside for us to be put at ease by our host, Pete, who greeted us
warmly and wisely pointed us to the bar room.  Clearly this was a friend
who knew us well.  He thanked us for coming, chatted a bit, then moved
off to greet the steady stream of guests telling us, “save me a drink, I’m
going to need one soon.”

The shelves behind the bar were filled with dozens of bottles of wine.  
Make that dozens of dozens of bottles of wine.  In front of that were
dozens and dozens of wine glasses.   There were also three bartenders
each of whom, as far as I could tell, had their own distinct job.  One
selected the wine, one opened the bottle, and one poured it.  A quick look
around the bar at our fellow guests revealed that a fourth bartender to tell
us they had no beer whatsoever was not needed.    Being brave, but
foolish, we nonetheless asked the eternal question, “Do you have any
beer?”  Even before we could answer the middle aged woman waiting for
bartender #3 to finish pouring her glass of Chateau Pretentious turned
toward us with a look I’ve only seen on the faces of someone who finally
realizes that Corona beer is always skunked.  It seemed to take all the
resolve she could muster to almost spit out her next sentence.  “Did you
say b – e –e – r?

As she carefully annunciated each letter her face became even more
contorted.  Her bravery under such duress was clearly monumental.  And
just in case we missed her anguish she repeated each and every letter once
again only now with a fierce anger seeping into her dismayed tone. “Did
you say B – E – E –R?”

Pete, hovering nearby, sensed the potential for disaster and sprinted over.  
With apologetic tones he introduced me to the incredulous woman as a
professional beer writer.   I instantly began to rattle off the first part of my
standard speech, “there are more varieties of beer than wine, some beers
have more nuanced flavors than any wine, beer ‘s history is a long and
proud one, that..... that......”.... before I could continue she turned to Pete
and now more animated than ever said ...... “But it’s B-E-E-R!!”    
Championing my cause, Pete slowly said “read my lips – there’s another 4
letter word that is perfect for you right now – B-O-Z-O.”  

As a crowd gathered around us it was clearly time to leave.  Crazed wine
fanciers can lose all control in situations like these.  Pete’s fiancée quickly
carted him off while we spread the rumor that our antagonist had actually
asked for a “Merlot”, the ultimate wine insult.    As shocked guests now
began to scrutinize her instead of us, we slipped out the back door.  In our
path we saw Pete, our friend, host, and long time drinking buddy.  Before
we could apologize for not quite fitting in he said “Get me out of here.  
These people make me sick.  The wedding is off.  I need a b –e –e – r”.
Does Spelling Count?
Vince Capano