Pokerama-rama! Now with more beer!

Beer, brewing and poker, with possibly some inane drivel on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Frickin Firkin Fest

Wow, what a weekend. A weekend that I was happy to have, but it's a relief to finally have some time to rest. Crashing at 9pm last night definitely helped with the whole resting part.

There's a lot of walking and drinking that I'd like to talk about, but I don't think anybody really cares about the random beers I had, or how hard I suck. What do you want to hear about?

Well, Firkin Fest at the Happy Gnome, of course!

My friends and I arrived about 15 minutes before they opened the tent flap, and I was expecting the line to be down the street by that point. Fortunately, we just barely beat that rush and ended up 15 people or so behind the front of the line. In another 5 minutes we would have been at the end of the line, or as I like to call it "Minneapolis".

Not that it would've mattered, though, because once we were let in the door, we were greeted with the beautiful site of the guy checking IDs. But behind that guy was the beautiful site of the people taking tickets and selling(yes, selling) programs for $2. But behind all those people? Two huge rows of cask beer, one row to each side of a tent the size of a football field. It could make a grown man cry. Since I'm not a grown man, I giggled and danced a little jig instead. I also farted, too, because that's what men do, and in a tent this big, you can't really pinpoint exactly who it was that crapped their pants.

The deal with this fest was that you paid $5 to get in, each pour was worth one ticket, each ticket would cost you $1. On the surface it sounds like not too bad of a situation, especially considering the number of beers present, the 4 oz glass you received with the $5 admission, and that you could spend as little or as much money as you wanted. Considering that most beer festivals start at $45 and go up from there, this didn't seem too bad.

The reality of this fest, though, was that most pours were 1oz. One measly little ounce, and I even had some particularly light handed pourers(mostly volunteers, mind you) that had trouble giving even a ounce. Yeah, that works out to about $16 a pint if you're keeping track, which in my book is asinine and I, and a lot of people I talked to, felt like we were getting hosed pretty hard. That's because that is a pretty hard hosing.

I'm not sure if this was to keep down on the drunken fratboy shenanigans,a flat out cash grab, or if they were short on beer and didn't want to blow through all the casks right away, but it caused a few problems as far as enjoying the fest went, for me at least. More on the latter in a bit.

For one, the teensy pours made me not even want to try anything that I'd normally be able to obtain here in Minneapolis, and I leaned more to the big beers and stuff that made it worth my money. Like the guy that was giving 3oz pours of Avery Maharaja through a beer engine, and if I have to choose between that and a $1 1oz pour of something with a normal ABV, it's not too tough of a decision to make. I know that makes me sound like all I wanted to do was get ripped and chase tail*, but that's not the case at all. I just wanted to feel like I was getting my money's worth. And guess what--getting refill after refill of 13.6% Double Crooked Tree IPA from Darkhorse will get your drunk, as will Surly 16 Grit(thank you Surly beer engine puller lady!) in case you were wondering.

Second, the small pours don't really allow you to get a good idea of what you're drinking, let alone give you the time to enjoy it. I'm not asking for a half a pint, but 3oz of something definitely helps. You'd go up and get a beer, try it and then it was almost immediately on to the next beer. There was no time to sit down and enjoy it, or be able to talk to friends because it seemed my glass was always empty. They had tables in the middle of the tent, but that does no good when you're constantly in the quest for a refill.

The best part about the day was the weather, for sure. 65 degrees and sunny in the middle of March? So awesome. The worst part about that was that the only place to enjoy the sun was way back near the porto-biffs. I understand that the event coordinators really can't predict that it's going to be the absolute perfect day and allow for more outdoor space, so I didn't really hold this against them. For all they knew it would be 35 degrees and raining sideways.

If the small pours were due to them running out of beer, then whose grand idea was it to make the fest last so damn long? I stuck around far too long, but by the time we left at 8pm or so, they were out of plenty of the good beer, like Hopslam, and most everybody associated with the event just wanted it over and done with. They were going so far as selling glasses of beer, which I think were still only 12oz, for 5 tickets, just to get rid of the leftovers.

I had so many tickets left at that time that I was harrassing the New Belgium guy for full pours of New Belgium La Folie Love for 2 or 3 tickets each. Too bad that I wasn't able to do that earlier in the day, if only to keep me from feel like I was looping in circles, from toilets to tent. ALL. DAY. LONG.

I know it sounds like I'm ragging on this fest, or that I had a terrible time, but that couldn't be more wrong. There was a lot about it that I liked. For example, even though the tent was ass-to-crotch by 3pm, I never once had to wait in a line for a beer. Not for Hopslam, not for 16 Grit, not for a single damn beer, which was a good thing considering that I was always on the prowl for another beer (zing!). Also pretty impressive, especially for an event this large.

Also, the bathroom situation was wonderful. I'm usually loathe to use outdoor toilets, but this was almost downright pleasant, if taking a wizz when that many people are enjoying the scents of spring immediately outside your biffy door can be a pleasant circumstance. Hand sanitizer and urinal cakes signifies spring for you, too, right? Thought so.

One thing I must mention, though--I've never had more people commend and simultaneously mock me for wearing my Camelbak. Granted, I was the lone guy that didn't ride a bike over, and was sucking out of a straw attached near his shoulder for much of the afternoon, but what do you expect? It's an outdoor beer festival, for fuck's sake! They're not going to just give you water. You're all just jealous of my forethought and unstupidity. While you were lamenting about your orange urine, I was peeing confidently and clearly all night long! HA! HA!

Suck on that, losers.

So, would I go back next year? Probably, but I wouldn't show up as early next time. Bah, who am I trying to kid? I'll camp overnight just to be first in line.

*If you've never been to a beer festival, I'm sure that joke went vwoop!, right over your head. If you have, you'll know that, even for a single guy(I'm not), there are no women there. Just dudes. For the most part, fat, disgusting beer dudes that do nothing but talk about beer. Oh joy. And the women that are there? Wives, girlfriends and sober-cab call-girls that are purchased for the day by these beer dudes to make it look like they're not so lonely.