Beer Club at The Dive Bar, Martha’s Vineyard

— Photo by Ben Williams

Some beers are smooth and refreshing, others would rather give you a friendly kick in the gut. With all the beers out there it’s hard to know which ones really fit your palate, and this, in large part, is why The Dive Bar on Circuit Avenue in Oak Bluffs has a Beer Club and is doing a Beer Tasting every Monday through the summer, from 6 ’til 9 pm.

The Dive Bar is not a dive bar by the usual definition. Its humble entrance down some steps conceals that it’s a large place with ample room for dancing and great acoustics. It has lots of wood paneling that makes it feel like a ship’s hold if the hold was warm, dry, and carrying a cargo of fresh beer from around the world.

On Monday evenings bartender, manager, and event coordinator Lizzie Andrews and her assistant Alyssa Carpenter set up patrons with samples of five or so beers, selected around a theme each week. One week was lagers, lining up canned beers such as Narragansett alongside bottles of Brooklyn Lager and Grolsch. The samples are served in plastic shot glasses, a fresh glass used with each sample to preserve taste.

One gets a much better idea of how beers differ when they can try them side-by-side. Notable was how impressively a canned beer like Narragansett stood up alongside more expensive bottled beers. “It’s a personal pet peeve when people think that a beer will be worse because it’s in a can,” said Ms. Andrews. “A lot of brewers are moving to cans because they block light, keeping the beer from breaking down and losing freshness.”

The Beer Club is a summer long event that records how many different beers a person has drunk. Entering the club is free, and each member is given their own number. The people who have drunk the most different kinds of beer are posted up on a chalkboard, and at the end of the summer, the leader will get their name enshrined on a plaque.

The current leader is “Lynchberg” who had 34 beers to his name at the start of Monday night.

Riley Dobel, in second place with 28 different kinds of beers drunk so far this summer, described his motivation: “I want the plaque on the wall, I want to be the first one to have the fame and the glory. There’s a fun personal rivalry between me and all my buddies.”

“I think the Beer Club is a win-win,” said beer club member Connor Johnson. “They sell more beer, we get more beer, they love us, we love them and its fun for everyone. They get regulars, which is an old time Vineyard tradition.”

There’s also live music playing alongside the beer tasting every Monday. Phil DaRosa alternates weeks with Adam Lipsky. This week Mr. Lipsky brought in drummer Mike Alberice and flamenco guitarist Alberto De Almar.

The band played laid back jazz, their not-overpowering jams easing along the natural pairing of cold beer and chill grooves.

All was low-key this past Monday night, until an inspired flamenco solo from Mr. De Almar drew all eyes and attention. The drums and keys coalesced in exultant crescendo to approving shouts from the crowd.

Between the music and the vibe the beers tend to disappear, but along with a drinker’s personal responsibility to know their limit, logging the beers that people drink for the beer club helps the bartenders keep tabs on things.

A bar promotion can bring in the familiar seasoned locals, packs of frat boys, or visiting connoisseurs with the predictability of a nor’easter’s wind, and The Dive Bar has so far catered to all tastes.

“The Beer Club and the Beer Tasting are for people who really enjoy beer,” said Ms. Andrews. “It’s educational and you grow into knowing your beers. You mature into letting your taste buds make their minds up.”

Dive Bar Beer Club, Mondays, The Dive Bar, Oak Bluffs. Admission is free, patrons pay for individual beers. For more information, call 508-696-9352 or search The Dive Bar Beer Club on Facebook.