Big Beers, Belgians and Barleywines 2016: We Meet Again, Vail

Big Beers, Belgians and Barleywines 2016: We Meet Again, Vail


As I type this sentence, I am sitting in the lobby of the Vail Daily. It’s currently Sunday, the day after the Big Beers, Belgians and Barleywines festival. It’s nearly 11am and I was expecting to be sitting in traffic going back towards Denver, but instead my car was towed. “If it’s not there, you can’t be mad,” I told myself as I walked up to the spot where my salty blue S10 was supposed to be. I’ll be honest, I was pretty fucking mad.

I wasn’t mad at how the weekend went previous to this moment, though. Big Beers is easily my favorite event of the year. I don’t know if it’s the location, the fantastic beers, educational sessions or the manageable size, but both years I’ve attended ended in meeting new friends and getting rip-shit along the way.

The whole weekend started out right on Thursday night. I got to the condo I was sharing with the Focus on the Beer crew and we cracked a few beers, ate some pizza, then started an impromptu bottle share with the Porchdrinking posse somewhere around 11:30pm. This party went late and there was some magic erupting out of the bottles. Ultimately, I capped the night off with a suicide chug that almost came back up. Everyone thought I was going to be out for the count Friday, and I was ready to prove them all wrong.

Friday was probably harsher than I was ready to admit. I woke up with the Sahara goddamn desert in my mouth, a stomach doing flip flops, and slightly blurry vision. I chugged some water, went back to sleep and about two hours later decided I was ready to greet the world. Over the next several hours, a small headache would creep up on me, but seeing how I’m professional as fuck, I powered through and went to the welcome reception.

I had a few snacks, enjoyed a few pours of some fancy beers (2008 Abyss being one of the more noteworthy pours) and began my scavenger hunt. A few small pours of strong-ass beer brought me fully back to life. Alright Vail, game fucking on.

A few of us went to the grocery store and grabbed some food to cook up an exquisite meal for the night. This was funny to me later because I stuffed myself stupid before going to a beer and food pairing. Thankfully, the beer was light and the plate paired with them with was not huge. However, something was growing inside me that I wasn’t fully aware of until towards the end of the pairing.

We were on our way to go hit the Avery and Dogfish Head bowling event at Bol, when I felt that pang in my stomach that let me know: diarrhea-is-coming

My stomach hurt. Bad. Like, I might cry bad. I needed to fart, but my gambling days have helped me identify when I should and shouldn’t trust one. So I slipped into a bathroom, went into a stall and fired off a few warning shots, then I just gave in and let the evil erupt from my body. It was all noise and no substance, if you follow what I’m saying (No dook, just air). Awesome. I hope anyone in the bathroom appreciated me giggling like a five year old kid at my own noise. False alarm, I thought.

Fast forward 30 minutes and now we’re sitting at Bol. I have a wonderful barleywine from The Bruery in my hand and suddenly my stomach does that thing again. I get up and head for the bathroom and promptly bump into someone who stops me and says hi. Now, I don’t want to be rude since I haven’t seen this person in a few months, but I can’t ignore the turmoil going on in my stomach and I know this time won’t be the same result as the previous. I’m pretty sure I was visibly sweating.

I make it to the bathroom.

So now that I’m all clear, it’s time to find a place that’s more my speed and the perfect opportunity revealed itself in a friend being at a place called The George. This bar is a fantastic dive selling $4.75 Sierra Nevada pale ale tall boys. These are all facts I didn’t know about The George before beginning the brief walk over, but they would have been great to know as means for motivation as my stomach clamped up once again.

This time I break into a panic sweat. I’m walking along Vail Village, too far from Bol to go back, but unsure of exactly where The George is and in possession of a dying phone. Panic makes people do weird things. Me, personally, I start talking to myself. Muttering at first, but depending on the distress levels, I can get up to a full on shouting match. In this moment, I’m nearly screaming to myself when I get to where the bar should be. “DEAR GOD THERE’S NO SIGN WHAT DO I DO NOW” was all that flashed through my head.

Many great partiers of the past few centuries have released their bowles at inopportune moments, right? I couldn’t be the only one who’s been tortured by the pant-shitting ghosts of past, present and future, like a stingy, underwear-hating Scrooge? These are all things that flash through my brain as I slowly start to accept my fate. Then I spotted a cop about to get into his patrol car.

I flag the officer down and ask, almost too rushed, where The Goerge is. I can only imagine what he’s thinking since I probably had pure panic in my eyes. Maybe he knew the look. Maybe he had a long day and wanted to go home. Maybe he was Jesus. I don’t really care because he succinctly pointed me to the stairs I needed to go down to reach my destination and suddenly, I thought I had a fighting chance to keep my underwear. I head right to the loo praying to anyone who would listen that the stall wasn’t occupied, out of order or splattered with someone else’s emergency.

I make it to the bathroom.

Fast forward two days and I wake up, go to the spot where my truck was supposed to be and spend the next four hours tracking it down and finding my way to the tow company to pay a Russian man $235 to let me drive my truck two hours back to Denver to go scrub toilets for four hours. Always coming back around to the toilets. I can’t wait for my next Vail adventure.

Samuel Sly
Written by Samuel Sly

Homeboy seemingly came out of nowhere. Michigan? Colorado? Truth be told, no one knows where this motherfucker came from. Rumor has it he dwells in Denver and drinks ram piss.

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