The Visceral Enjoyment Of Kicking A Keg

Michael Donato, April 12, 2016

I sat down at the bar an hour before my BJCP class to order a beer and a burger. Filling my stomach before we tackled styles including American Strong Ale and American Barleywine seemed like a smart course of action, but I certainly wasn’t going to ignore the solid tap list at this beer bar.

I ordered a Mean Old Tom by Maine Beer Company on nitro, and as the bartender was topping off the glass it turned to foam and he announced, “Last one”. I smiled happily at this. Mean Old Tom is a fantastic beer even without the nitrogen, but the combination makes for one of my favorite milk stouts. I was thrilled to be able to enjoy it in this medium.

I pondered, aloud, about whether I’d regret missing out on whatever was going to replace Mean Old Tom, but the bartender explained that he’s not allowed to change the craft kegs anymore, because the owner has an unspoken order in which he likes to put things on. I know the bar lists Founders Canadian Breakfast Stout as ‘coming soon’ on BeerMenus, but that’s probably not going on un-promoted. 

The bartender removes the tap handle, but the printed menu and the chalkboard don’t get changed in the time that I’m sitting there. Numerous people ask for the beer, and each time I glance at my glass and smile. Mean Old Tom is not a rare beer; it’s not a whale or even particularly hard to get. It’s not Maine’s best beer or a popular style, but it’s still a terrific beer that many people enjoy. Tonight no one else will enjoy it here, except me.  

Beers come and go. There were certainly plenty of other delicious beers on tap and I doubt anyone else was particularly worked up about missing out on Mean Old Tom. Still, sitting there sipping the smooth creamy beer I knew I probably wouldn’t have it again like that for a long time. I savored the chocolatey notes and the rich malt finish. I let the taste linger on my tongue and rejoiced in getting there just in time to grab the last glass.  Life is good. 

Michael can be found on Twitter and Untappd and feels he should be honest with you and let you know that the header image is a Wookey Jack, not a Mean Old Tom. You can also email him at