One week ago we were gearing up for what turned out to be a lovely Great American Beer Festival weekend. I determined that I would ‘not work’ while I was there. I wasn’t going to take notes, I wasn’t going to try to judge which beers I liked the most and which were the worst, I wasn’t going to try to be the first person to post about my experience at the festival (I didn’t even bring a camera, but I did snap 3 or 4 pictures with my phone). Instead I was just going to have a good time, drink a ton, try some new stuff, and be satisfied with it.
So that’s what I did. But I do want to talk about a few experiences that stood out to me, ones that I think you’ll enjoy reading. Before I do that, let me direct your attention to a couple great GABF recaps: This One by our pal Matthew Schniper of the CS Indy and This One from New Belgium (it includes some of New Belgium’s love for Focus on the Beer!). So now, here are some of my tales:
|We met up with my buddy Angelo, of Brewpublic, at the Avery taproom.|
1. Don’t like Saisons? Then don’t drink them!
I don’t mean to pick on this particular guy but I have to share it as a moment that really stood out to me. At the Trinity Pre-GABF party I ended up meeting a lot of people who were visiting from out of state. I went up to the bar and met two people who were talking about Trinity’s beer, neither knew each other previously. One guy said that he was really impressed with Trinity’s sours, like The Flavor. I said that I agree, and then I went on to talk about the four special saisons that were on tap. The next guy interrupted and said “Yeah, but you have to like saisons and sours, if you don’t like saisons then you won’t like this place, they’re really limiting themselves” or something to that effect. So I said “Yes, that’s Trinity’s specialty, they make over 30 saisons a year.” I think I left it at that. Ultimately Trinity makes saisons and sours, and yes, the make other things here and there too. If you go to Trinity, you should just accept that fact. If you don’t like saisons, then don’t worry yourself with going to Trinity. A brewery can do what they want. That’s that.
2. Forgetting Your Ticket to GABF
I didn’t forget my ticket but I did have to pick it up at Will Call. I showed up at about 5:45, so I was already running a little late and I got really annoyed (and humored) by the guy in front of me. He was having ticket troubles. He apparently forgot his tickets, however there was no payment at all made under his name, or under his credit card, he said that he didn’t order his tickets through ticketmaster, but he also wasn’t an AHA member so he couldn’t have got his tickets that way either. He didn’t seem too ticked off or concerned either way, but he wasted a good 5 minutes of my time, that translates to like 10oz worth of beer. 10oz, that’s 10 different beers, that’s 0.4% of the variety of beer available at GABF. I never did get to see what happened to that guy in the end, but it may have been worth sticking around another 5 minutes.
3. Surprises from Small Breweries
If you’ve followed all the recent posts here, you’ll remember that I committed to trying all the breweries that my pals on twitter recommended. I asked specifically for smaller breweries that might be overlooked. I tried almost all of them, and I also tried to avoid the more popular breweries (although I did try a couple of those too) because I have had most of them before. There were some real surprises. First of all, I got in a small line for one brewery and accidentally found myself at the front of the line for Vintage Brewing. I tried their beer and absolutely loved it, so I tried all the others and they were fantastic. I also ended up really loving TAPS from Southern California, and they won some awards too. Boneyard and Breakside, both in Oregon were also really great.
|Jamie Floyd of Ninkasi, pouring me an old favorite.|
4. My Brother-In-Law is Super Famous
Being that I’m from Oregon I walked down the Pacific NW corridor and sampled some beers from some of my old favorites. One of these was Ninkasi. Behind the booth I saw the founder, Jamie Floyd. Now I’d never met this guy before but I’ve seen pictures and my brother-in-law, Justin, used to talk about him here and there. Justin worked at the busiest bar in Portland and Jamie used to come in to drop off kegs and they would chat. So, I figured I’d talk to Jamie about Justin. I told Jamie I used to live in Oregon and that my brother in law worked at Henry’s. Jamie’s eyes got big, “Justin! He’s my favorite!” We talked about Justin for a while, I snapped a photo and sent it off to Justin telling him that he was super famous. I don’t idolize brewers but I really enjoyed this moment because I got to talk about Justin, I call him one of my brothers, and we hung out almost every day in Oregon when I lived there.
5. Getting Lost at GABF
I’ve begun reading this book called “A Field Guide to Getting Lost” by Rebecca Solnit which has nothing to do with beer, but a lot to do with walking. Walking is something I think about all the time, and I’m interested in the philosophies of walking, and I’ve even created that program Beers Made By Walking. Anyway, at GABF as soon as we walked in, my wife needed to excuse herself and use the lavatory. Somehow we didn’t see each other again until four hours later, after GABF was closed. I ran into a couple friends and they’d say ‘Oh she’s hanging out with Isaac and Dan’ and they’d point in a general direction. I never saw her, Isaac, or Dan, or a number of other friends I purposed to see. But! I had a great time getting lost, searching but not really searching, discovering new places while headed in some generalized direction. I think that’s the way to do GABF.