Honky tonk blues

Politics and other mistakes
By AL DIAMON  |  August 23, 2006

Where can I find a good bar?

That’s the first question I ask when I arrive someplace I’ve never been in search of political scoops. Unfortunately, the answers I get often involve words like “Applebee’s” and “senior-citizen, early-bird specials.”

Never mind. I’ll drink in my room.

So, I was intrigued by a recently published book called The Good Beer Guide to New England by Andy Crouch, which purports to be a “comprehensive” listing of brewpubs, breweries, and beer bars throughout the six-state region. If Crouch’s book was anything like the Campaign for Real Ale’s annual Good Beer Guide, rating thousands of British pubs, I’d never have to listen to a hotel clerk’s creepy-chain-bar recommendations again.

Sad to say, I’m still drinking in my room.

The problem with this guide is not that Crouch doesn’t know a decent watering hole when he falls in one. He does. When he says the beer at the Bear Brew Pub in Orono is “less than impressive,” take it to the bank. When he writes, “there is not a cozier brew pub in New England” than the Liberal Cup in Hallowell, prepare to settle in. When he singles out Geary’s Hampshire Special Ale and Sebago’s Frye’s Leap IPA for praise, raise your glasses in agreement.

Crouch knows his bars and taps. He just doesn’t know guide books.

The British publications are organized by location. Look up almost any town in the Queen’s realm, and find out where to hoist a quality pint. Crouch’s book is organized by . . . well, I’ll be damned if I can figure out how it’s organized.

If you’re searching for fine ale in Auburn, you’ll have to look under the Portland listing for Gritty McDuff’s. Three Dollar Dewey’s, Portland’s first great beer bar, is mentioned only as an added attraction if you visit the D.L. Geary brewery, even though the two aren’t close to each other. At least Dewey’s gets a mention. With the exception of the Great Lost Bear, the rest of the state’s best saloons are absent from this book. As are brew pubs such as the Whale Tale in Old Orchard Beach, the Bag & Kettle at Sugarloaf, and the Sea Dogs in Bangor and Topsham. But Slopes in Presque Isle gets written up, even though the author admits he’s never been there.

Room service, send up another six pack.

Until there’s nothing left of us
The Christian Civic League of Maine, the state’s foremost advocate of a return to the Middle Ages, reports that its membership has undergone a precipitous decline in recent years. While the league was busy fighting same-sex marriage, Wiccans, abortion, evolution, gambling, lingerie models, and anything else that’s any fun, some 245 members, both individuals and churches, decided not to renew their association. Only 27 new acolytes came forward this year to offset that loss, leaving the league with a mere 124 dues-paying troopers to carry on the fight against science, common sense, and other forms of immorality.

Executive director Michael Heath blames the drop-off on such factors as intimidation of conservative Christians by secularists and the failure of the mainstream media to acknowledge his organization’s “obvious political muscle.”

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