I thought I knew how to rock a beer festival up until a few weeks ago. My confidence was shattered when I poured at a beer festival and wound up falling off my bike 10 times and shredding my elbows. I recently went for redemption at the Epic Beer Festival’s inaugural appearance in Denver. It should be a simple feat but the challenge had an extra dimension to it; I was pouring for the afternoon session which earned me a free ticket to the evening session. This filled the whole day with beer sampling instead of only a couple of hours.
Saturday arrives, I get to the convention center for my volunteer shift, we do our RAH RAH meeting, we talk about how to identify intoxicated people and we get cut loose in the exhibition hall. Only half of the hall was being used so it didn’t seem quite as overwhelming as the Great American Beer Festival. Still, 150+ breweries and 300 or so beers isn’t anything to wag your junk at, and I was pretty pumped to see what each brewery brought.
I arrived at my assigned table for Full Sail Brewing, got my kegs sorted out, filled my pitchers and prepped my dump bucket. Once all set up, we were given about 30 minutes to wander and try out some of the beers. The floor opened up around noon, it was game on. Much like the previous festival, I enjoyed the hell out of pouring beers, drinking beers and shooting the breeze with several hundred like-minded people. There were some costumes and even a couple of crying girls so you know it was a good time, and this was only the AFTERNOON session!
Once the session was over and we had cleaned everything up, I returned to my old friend The Bike. I muttered something about a mutual agreement to stay upright and did a quick ride back to my apartment. I ate dinner, drank some water and mentally prepared for what the evening was to bring. Then I realized it was only five o’clock and the doors didn’t open until seven. The only plausible solution was going to Great Divide and trying the recently released Oatmeal Yeti. After the Yeti (delicious) and a Denver Pale Ale I tried to convince myself was a spacer, I made my way to the beer festival. I whispered hollow threats to my bike about our two wheel agreement, and if it kept up its end of the bargain, I wouldn’t throw it off a balcony for a second time. We have a good relationship.
Walking into the convention center with absolutely no plan I decide to take my tiny two ounce taster cup and walk down the rows of breweries trying all the beers that catch my eye as fast as I can, essentially doing a Power Hour. I could split before the impact of all that beer really hits me. It seems like a no-fail plan and I dove in.
The chatter of the crowd filled the air, only to be overpowered when someone dropped their sampling cup and raised the jeers of thousands of festival-goers across the entire hall. People in costumes roamed the aisles and groups of beer aficionados stood with contemplative looks on their faces as they took dainty sips out of their tiny sampling cups. A brass band prominently featuring a tuba could be vaguely heard over the commotion.
After an hour or so of sampling, I was satisfied with my progress and hadn’t dropped my sampling cup. It was time to make a run for it. I grabbed my bike, shoved my new schwag in my pocket, and had a spiritual moment with my two-wheeled friend. If we could get through this anything is possible. One stop for pizza and candy later, I was safely in my apartment injury free. Challenge completed, and I had my mojo back.
That’s how you rock a fucking beer festival, folks.
An open mind and a few beers can make anywhere an adventure.