So pace yourself and don’t be “that guy”
Those are the two greatest words to hear at a beer festival if you are attending, and the two worst if you are actually working at the event. Even a 2 oz. pour limit becomes essentially meaningless with unlimited sampling, because no matter what you do, people are people, and will always go too far.
Over the years I’ve told all of you to behave yourselves at the Great International Spring Beer Festival, because it’s a big event with a lot of people, it takes a lot of hard work to put together and deserves a little respect and restraint. This is supposed to be an egalitarian gathering of people who enjoy beer as a craft and wish to enjoy and compare notes with other beer enthusiasts. This is not an occasion to get smashed out of your mind.
In previous years, I’ve given everyone good advice on how to have a good time at this festival without going too far.
I wish I could say everyone listened to my advice, but like the aging father of a teenage girl, my advice falls on deaf ears as you’ve all been misbehaving and sneaking out the window in miniskirts at midnight with bottles of my vodka and the bad boy from down the block that I disapprove of heartily.
All right, so it hasn’t been all of you. But some of you, and you know who you are, have been diligently ruining everyone’s fun. Wait, you don’t know who you are? You’re all looking around as if to say ‘Who, me?’ and batting those eyelashes with your big innocent doe eyes?
Sorry, not working. I’m calling all of you out. I know who you all are.
If you recognize yourself on this list, please pay attention.
Life of the Party
If you find yourself pounding down those 2 oz. samples and shouting for more, congratulations, you’re going to be covered in permanent marker when you pass out at 8:30 and get taken back to the dorm full of your equally shameless buddies. You’ll be at their mercy as you will be unconscious for who knows how long. How about this: Play a new game. It’s called ‘who can keep their wits about them.’ The game is played all night, and whoever is lucid enough to drive home gets permanent ‘can’t touch me’ rights for the duration of college. If you’re not in college, then the prize is getting to pick and choose which facebook pictures of you get to stay up or get taken down. Does this take some of the fun out of things? Yes, but only to people who carry around permanent markers to these events. You can still have a blast without getting blasted, and maybe you can get your friends to take down that picture of you and the goat from last year.
The Glutton AKA The Booth Hopper
If you go through a long line, get to the front of a booth, and then once you’ve gotten your 2 oz. pour, down it and take two steps to the side to cut in on the next booth, please hold still because the rest of the line is about to clock you in the face and kidneys. Those long lines serve an important function called ‘pacing.’ You have to wait three to four minutes for your next 2 ounces of beer? Oh, the horror! Try this: Actually talk to the brewers at the booth about the beer you’re drinking and get a little insight into it. Maybe you’ll learn something. Then get in line like everyone else and be grateful you’re even in line at all. And if you see me doing it, it’s because I actually am special, and a member of the community, so suck it!
The Ladies Man
aka The Creepy Guy
Yes, there’s a lot of attractive girls there. Yes, many of them are scantily clad, or in costume. Yes, it’s fine to take a picture. It’s not fine to try and slip a camera up their skirts or cop a feel in the crowd. That’s a one-way-ticket to a night in a cell. These girls are doing a job, and if they smile at you and act friendly or even mildly flirtatious, realize they’re doing it because they want to be cool, and they’re getting paid for it. Be cool with them, and they’ll be cool with you. If you have terrible social skills, be honest about it. Just blurt out ‘I’m nervous around cute girls.’ You’d be amazed how often that can ease the tension. Then you don’t look insane. If you actually are insane and trying to sexually harass these ladies, be ready to meet a cell mate in the near future. Bring flowers.
Look at Me
This is the person wearing the unusual outfit, hat, or other accessory to attract attention. Unlike the girls at the booths who wear those outfits for promotional reasons, insert joke here, these people are crying out for attention and can get angry and belligerent when they don’t get it. If you find this is you, then maybe you should spend some time looking in the mirror and saying to yourself ‘There’s nothing wrong with therapy,’ over and over again. The world doesn’t revolve around you, and that’s okay. Maybe stop thinking about your novel little costume for a moment and try to be the cool guy who doesn’t give a damn about what people think.
This guy is always ready with a half-made-up story about how he’s been to a better beer festival and personally drank from the Holy Grail as it was being filled with 120 Minute IPA. This guy looks down on the entire Beer Festival and condemns its corporate tone, yet shows up faithfully every single time to harp on the event while getting in line at only the trendiest breweries’ booths. Listen, man, the thing that makes these festivals great are the people. Be cool, and we’ll all be cool with you. Be an ass, and you’ll be watching all of ours as we walk away.
The Cool Brewer
This guy is more than happy to talk about the beer with you, answer your questions, and hopefully teach you something. Most of the time, these guys have beards. Not always, though. Sometimes the guys are women, so you can never really tell until you talk to them who they are. They’re always happy to hear your praise, and if you have a valid criticism, be gentle and constructive. They’ll listen, and maybe even improve their brews based on your suggestion. Maybe not, but if you’re respectful and cool, they will be, too.
These are people, much like myself, who love the subject of craft beer so much that we soak up the knowledge like sponges in swamplands. We’re always eager to learn something new, and if you’ve got a question and the Cool Brewers are busy, you can ask us and we’ll probably know. We’ll be the people with ‘Yankee Brew News’ ‘Arrogant Bastard’ or ‘Hop Head’ tee shirts on, we usually travel in groups, and once again, we usually have beards.
The Booth Girls, aka OMG Get the Camera
I’ve made jokes about the beautiful girls promoting cigars at the festival before, and now they get real acknowledgement. These girls are, of course, good looking and they know it. They’re also a little on guard because, let’s face it, statistics show there’s probably at least a few sex offenders in a crowd of that size. These girls are beautiful, but they’re doing a job, and remember that if your instinct is to try and swagger up and sweep them off their feet. They might have just had to deal with a few Creepy Guys, so it’s possible they’re not in the mood and you won’t change that. Just be cool and casual and you won’t come off as a Creepy Guy.
This is the guy who is so at home, so comfortable, so unflappable that he strides through this festival with no fear. He doesn’t need to wait in line at the port-a-john because he doesn’t need to pee. He doesn’t get wasted because he’s taking his time. He doesn’t get into fights, because he’s just too chill. This guy is the best to hang around with because he keeps you out of trouble. He regards trouble as someone else’s problem, and with good reason, because it is. These guys are hard to spot, but they’re there, and they are the best. You’ll find yourself closing the Wild Colonial or The Apartment after the show if you hang around Awesome Guy, and he knows people, so you’ll be tasting the best of the best. Awesome guy is awesome!
So those are the people you’ll meet at the GISBF. If you’re looking to really enjoy yourself, I hope I was helpful, and if you’re looking to get blitzed, you clearly haven’t read the entire article. Well, as always, I tried.
Great Beers to Sample
When it comes to your choice of beer at the festival, and you will have quite a few to choose from, including some new favorites that might pleasantly surprise you all.
Founders Brewing has been hailed as one of the best brews in the country, and after sampling a few of their creations I can’t help but agree. Their Red Rye IPA I’ve already raved about, and their porter is a delicious, dark brew with prominent notes of chocolate and coffee, roasty but not too roasty, and smooth like polished chrome. On an unrelated note, don’t try to eat polished chrome.
Speaking of excellent smooth porters, Berkshire Brewing will be there with their own Vanilla porter, a silky smooth, not-too-sweet brew with real natural vanilla flavor unmolested by fake additives or artificial flavors.
Cape Ann brewing will be there, possibly with their fantastic Pumpkin Stout, possibly not, but that doesn’t mean their other brews aren’t worth a try or two. They make a mighty fine Kolsh that’s more in season with the current season, and definitely give their IPA a try as well.
Of course you’ll always have the Boston Beer Company on hand, dishing out their newest surprises and epic creations, and perhaps even some hop packets as they did several years ago. That was wonderful. I used them to make an IPA at home.
Our new friends at Grey Sail will be there, popping their Beerfest cherries as new brewers. Their Flagship ale is the only one in consistent production at the moment, but I’m sure they’ll have a seasonal on hand to try. Their Winter seasonal was a very nice little smoked porter, and I’m looking forward to what they do next.
Lagunitas has a booth, and hopefully some beer, too. Lagunitas is one of those reall chill breweries that makes good beer because they love to, not just to turn a profit. And oh boy, do they make good beer. Then again, anyone who releases beers named after Frank Zappa’s album history is epic in my, and anyone else’s books. If you don’t know who Frank Zappa is, get some damn culture!
Longtrail will be there as well, dishing out their usual fare and maybe, if we’re lucky, some of their specialty brews on a limited basis. They make a Coffee Stout that’s absolutely amazing. If you love coffee and you love stouts, this beer will make you happy and keep you up all night.
And, of course, there will be many more, possibly including our own Newport Storm, the Extremists from the Coast who will have their usual line, plus, I’m sure, their latest Cyclone series, which is always a treat.
Hope to see you all there, and behaving yourselves.