Five things I love and hate about craft beer festivals

on 09/03/12 at 11:16 am

Beer

I have a love/hate relationship with beer festivals.  This occurred to me as I was walking into the New York City American Craft Beer Fest, my head filled with a sense of dread, my belly tingling with excitement. These are always bipolar affairs for me — it seems that there’s something I hate about everything I love when it comes to beer festivals.  Here are a few examples:

The crowds
The saying goes that beer people are good people, and that’s generally true.  I love seeing beer geeks running wild at a festival, sampling beers, making notes and comparing what they’ve tasted with their friends.  I could hang out all day with these folks and their interesting facial hair.

But I hate the other element that beer festivals attract — the frat-boy types who are out to get their money’s worth by drinking as much as possible, as quickly as possible.  Pray they don’t figure out that the crowd goes “ooooh!” when someone drops their glass, because these geniuses will start slapping them out of the hands of strangers.  I hate that — you’re upsetting the gentle nerds!

The volunteers
I love the fact that people are excited enough about craft beer to volunteer their time to pour samples at a festival. They are the lifeblood of the event, and I’m all for anyone learning more about beer and sharing what they know with others.  It’s what being a beer geek is all about.

But I hate that volunteers are pouring the beer instead of people who actually work for the brewery, because many of them don’t know much about the beer. You can ask what’s in their pitcher and they’ll regurgitate a memorized answer, but if you ask anything about how the beer was made, most will look at their shoes and say you’ll have to talk to the brewery rep about that. Problem is most of the brewery reps are off networking with the other brewery reps, so there’s no one at the booth to answer my enlightened inquiries — I want to know how this beer was hopped NOW.  Frustrating!

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