Laura Hinerfeld

It was the perfect bar

‘I think every one of us who loved McNeill’s could write a memoir’

In the early 1990s, during and after my time at Marlboro College, I spent countless hours at McNeill's Brewery in Brattleboro. Some months I spent more on beer than rent, probably - neither were very expensive. My favorites were the Extra Special Bitter, the Oatmeal Stout, and the legendary Dead Horse IPA (“you can't beat a Dead Horse”).

I think every one of us who loved McNeill's could write a memoir. The darts, the sound of Jenga crashing, Holiday's chicken chili, watching election returns, flirting with Amy or Rob or Chris behind the bar. Knowing that you would run into someone you knew. Miles Keefe's smile and bird laugh at a good story or indefensible opinion. Someone sitting in Fenwick's giant chair, holding court on top of a pile of coats.

Maybe Nora would draw your portrait on a coaster while you drank unawares.

Maybe Richard Coutant or Richard Gottlieb would be at the bar, and things would get philosophical, but not serious. Maybe Giles would come in, and you would build a dome of toothpicks and gum on the bar while he rambled about Buckminster Fuller. Maybe Ruby would come from the Common Ground with a tray of her flan. (It happened!)...

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