PESHTIGO, WI–Seeking to gauge the personality and character of new next-door neighbor Roger Lundback, Bob Iwanski surreptitiously subjected him to a beer test Monday.
"You can learn an awful lot about a fella by the way he drinks his beer," said Iwanski, a 16-year-resident of Maple Bluff Road. "And based on what I've seen from Roger, he's a pretty all-right guy."
Iwanski, 52, who administers beer tests to all new male arrivals to Maple Bluff Road, invited Lundback over to share a six-pack of Heineken. He used the seemingly innocuous, welcome-to-the-block gesture as a means of secretly gathering valuable information about the newcomer.
"Roger not only accepted the offer to drink with me, but he held his own, drinking three of the six beers," Iwanski said. "He doesn't put his beer in a glass, so he's not some fancy wine-and-cheese guy, but he also says he's never shotgunned a beer in his life, so he's not a party hound. He still hasn't mentioned anything about having a favorite beer, which makes me suspect he's more of a hard-liquor kind of guy. Nothing wrong with that, though."
Iwanski said he meticulously plans his beer tests, leaving no detail left to chance.
"On a first meeting, I always bring something neutral like Heineken in cans," Iwanski said. "It's an import, so it says 'I care about beer,' but since it's in cans, it says 'I'm no snob.' If you bring anything too fancy or too cheap, it tips the study too far in one direction."
Iwanski said the test also gives him a sense of how the new neighbor will fit into the larger Maple Bluff Road beer-drinking community.
"We're a pretty tight unit, so how a new neighbor responds to an offer of beer goes a long way toward deciding whether he'll become a regular at Sunday-football get-togethers," Iwanski said. "That's why I met Roger one-on-one instead of with Brad [Juergens], Ted [Tabor], and the rest of the gang. Having someone like Ted around could skew the subject's reactions, because he can be a little rough when he's been drinking all afternoon."
According to Iwanski, Lundback has proven he is not a beer snob and is willing to "kick back a few," but it remains to be seen whether he shares Iwanski's deep, abiding passion for beer.
"The other day, I happened to notice that Roger had a refrigerator in his garage–always a good sign," Iwanski said. "But when he opened it, I saw it was full of Bud Light. I figured he must be a namby-pamby light-beer kind of guy, but then he blew my theory clear out of the water when he told me the beer was left over from a bridal shower his wife had thrown. It was a relief, to be sure, but it still raised more questions than it answered."
Determined to learn more about Lundback, Iwanski said he plans to test him in other beer-related situations, including Darts Night at T.J.'s Tavern and a backyard barbecue with the wives. If he passes muster, Iwanski will bring in neighbor Gary Pullman to administer the Guinness/Corona standardized test to answer any remaining questions about Lundback's psychological profile.
"Next time we get together, I may have to bring out the aged 40-year-old brandy or schnapps," Iwanski said. "Sometimes, the way a man carries himself outside of the beer circle tells you the most about the kind of beer drinker he is."
Iwanski said he hopes to conclude the beer test by the end of the month. He then plans to move into Phase Two of his neighbor-evaluation project, closely observing Lundback's reaction to such stimuli as bratwurst, pictures of lingerie models, and conversations about 1960s American muscle cars.
Phase Two is tentatively scheduled for June 3 at Gary's Bowl & Billiards.