Marylander has chance to win an Irish pub

May 16, 1999|By ROB KASPER

THIS WEEK, ANDREW Zerrlaut, a 28-year-old Millersville man, is in Ireland trying to win a pub. He is a finalist in the annual win-your-own-pub contest sponsored by Guinness, the Irish stout makers.

Tomorrow at J. O. Sullivan's pub in Newcastle West, about 150 miles southwest of Dublin, Zerrlaut and nine other American contestants will be put to several tests.

They will have to draw a pint of stout, making sure the head is creamy but not too thick. They have to play a round of darts. And they have to woo a panel of judges with an oral presentation.

The tricky part of the contest is the verbal part, Zerr-laut said in a telephone conversation last week from his Anne Arundel County home.

"You have to do something clever," he said. "Something to show you have kissed the [Blarney] stone."

At the time, Zerrlaut said his Blarney routine was still under development.

To win the free trip to the Emerald Isle, he wrote a poetic description of a perfect pint of the stout:

"The Perfect Pint of Guinness is drawn amongst good friends, subtle conversation as dark perfection blends. The head arising from the dark, a perfect Irish dawn. Toasting camaraderie, toward the lips it's drawn. The sudden anticipation, the glass begins to tip. The moment enjoyed by all, the long awaited sip."

Zerrlaut had entered the contest while prowling cyberspace on his home computer.

He had almost forgotten about it until he got a message on his telephone answering machine from a Guinness official in Stamford, Conn., who told Zerrlaut he was the mid-Atlantic-area winner.

Zerrlaut reacted with a mixture of joy and anxiety, he said. "I was ecstatic. Then I was worried that if I didn't get in touch with the Guinness guy right away, it might be a default, and they would give it to someone else."

For several anxiety-filled hours, Zerrlaut repeatedly called Connecticut until he reached someone. When he finally got through about 7:30 at night, he was assured that he indeed was going to Ireland.

Zerrlaut said that owning an Irish pub would be a career shift.

After serving in the U.S. Army and being stationed at Fort Meade, he managed some JCPenney and Lord & Taylor stores. He then went back to school to study computers and is set to become a certified software engineer, he said.

I wasn't exactly sure what a software engineer does, but Zerrlaut said he was confident that he could be a software engineer and a pub owner.

In the contest's six-year history, this is the second time that a Baltimore-area man has been in the finals.

In 1994, Paul Bollard of Parkville was a finalist.

Bollard, according to an account in The Sun, scored well on the dart-throwing and pint-pulling parts of the competition but suffered when he had to lyrically persuade the judges why he was the one who should win the pub in Cobh, Ireland.

The winner that year, Jay Mulligan of Boston, had said, "This pub would change my life, perhaps attracting a wife."

Zerrlaut can't use that. His wife, Brooke, is with him in Ireland as is their 14-month-old daughter, Alexa, and Zerr-laut's mother, Phyllis.

The family members went along to make the trip more interesting, Zerrlaut said.

If he does win the pub, he might consider moving in right away. There is a three-bedroom apartment above the pub.

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