Monday, May 03, 2010

Tapology 101

The short version of the post:

Read the instructions.

The "I'm a Dude, So How Can I Avoid Reading the Instructions?" version:

My good friends Brandon and Caitlyn were married yesterday. To connect the dots from an earlier post, Brandon is the originator of the use of Twombly as an adjective meaning, roughly, "that state of slight goofiness that follows consumption of a couple of beers." Our shared love of good beer probably lay behind Brandon's asking me to help man the keg at his wedding reception yesterday.

It was a post at which I was more than happy to serve, especially since the brew du jour was Ghost River Pale Ale. There was one problem, however: though I had reaped the benefits of many a tapped keg, I had never actually tapped a keg myself. I thought about this after Liturgy yesterday and cornered Brandon as we were moving tables and chairs into and out of the parish hall for the reception. "Do you know how to tap a keg?" I asked outright. Brandon, kind enough to at least address my question while his mind must've been on thousands of more important things, said, "Nah, but I think it's easy."

Fortunately for me, Brandon had also "tapped" a second beer server, our friend Nathan. "You ever tapped a keg?" I asked Nathan. "Oh yeah, lots of times." Good, I thought, and went home for my post-Liturgy nap feeling confident in my ability to be a good Beerman.

After sleeping a bit too long and waking a bit too groggy, I drove back to the church in what I thought was plenty of time to ready the keg before the wedding began. I found Nathan, and we moved the keg from the storage room to the larger room where food and drinks were to be served. Once the keg was in place, Nathan promptly inserted the tap into the valve at the top of the keg, turned it clockwise, and tried to press the handle down. Nothing. "Hmm," he said, and tried again. A bit of beer shot out at the bottom of the tap onto his sleeve cuff. "Uh-oh," he said, as beer continued to not flow from the business end of the tap. "Hey," Nathan said, "I need to run upstairs and do my job as an usher...ask [another friend] if he can help you."

"OK, I got this," I replied, with absolutely no confidence that I actually "had this." At that point, I began to sweat a little: Brandon had splurged for the good beer, and he'd given me the responsibility of serving it on this most important of occasions. So I went upstairs to the nave to find a helper. Walking along the side aisle (as the choir was singing--there was now about 10 minutes till the start of the wedding), I spotted a likely helper. "Psst. Can you help me tap a keg?" I asked him. "Sure," he said, "but I've never tapped one before--just tell me what to do."

By then, I'd begun to sweat a lot more. Ushers (including Nathan) were escorting attendees to their seats. Groom and Pals were ready to enter the nave from the narthex. I'd even seen the bride begin to make her way to outside the front door of the church. "I wonder if the brewery has an after hours, beer emergency phone line," I thought to myself. 7 minutes till the wedding. I strained my eyes looking up and down the nave, but I could see no other potential keg-tapping assistants. 5 minutes and counting.

At that point, I figured I had one last shot to try to right the beer ship myself. Taking a deep breath, I walked back downstairs, entered the serving room, and tried to press the handle down again. Nothing--except this time a small bit of beer sprayed onto my sleeve cuff.

In desperation, I removed the tap from the keg to look it over closely. Right there on the side of the tap, bold white on black letters, were the magic words: "Tapping Instructions."

"Why not?" I thought.

"Step 1: Insert the bottom of the tap into the notched opening at the top of the keg and turn clockwise one fourth of a turn till the tap locks in place." OK, that's what Nathan had done, but I'm out of options. Done.

"Step 2: Pull handle outward and then press down until it locks in place." Aha! Pull handle OUTWARD. THAT's what we hadn't done. Sure enough, I pulled the tap handle outward and was easily able to press it into its locked and beer-releasing position. "Now we're getting somewhere!"

"You should now be ready to serve the beer. Use the pump only if the beer flow slows." Grabbing a plastic cup, I attempted my first pour. Foam. Then nothing. "That's bad!" I said, probably too loudly. I gave the pump a couple of pushes and tried again, hoping for the best. Presto! After a slight bit of foam, real live beer flowed into the cup. I was tempted to down the cup's contents as a celebration/thank offering, but decided there would be plenty of time for that later. I had a wedding to get to--and only 2 minutes to make it upstairs.

God grant you Many Years, Brandon and Caitlyn!

Running log: None today, but a "virtual 10k race" (6.2 miles) on the Y treadmill yesterday as a substitute for the Corinth Coca-Cola 10k that I skipped owing to the (realized) threat of storms that morning. Time = 43:34, which would've been a personal best had I run it outside in a race.


Beverly said...

I could see you doing all the above....not even sure this was The David T......until I read about your the earlier post! Funny stuff....

David T said...

Hi Beverly!

You're so right--I'm pretty much just like I was growing up, just with grey hair now. I guess, for me, "growing up" had more to do with height than with maturity :)

Bill S said...

Pretty cool story! Makes me appreciate that ale even more knowing that such sweat and panic went into it! :-)

Ah, I can still taste it now.

David T said...


Just so you know, Nathan and I are generally available for summer weddings as well. Again, just so you know. :)