Beer festival

No time for tiny samples

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This is a paddle full of tasters. Something I’m not going to be bothering with any more.

There comes a time in a beer geek’s life where they must say ‘‘to hell with the tasting samples’’.

For me, that time comes this weekend. Well, actually it kind of came in May, I just didn’t realise it.
See, in May I attended both Friday sessions of GABS. The first session I spent drinking my way through paddles of 85ml tasters (some of which were enjoyed with the company of Ammo and Liam from the blog Drunken Speculation – which you really should be reading).

The second session, I opted to forgo the paddles and start filling up the souvenir glass instead. It was the influence Phil Cook from the Beer Diary blog and podcast. whom I met there. He’d been filling his glass and finding a quiet spot at the festival to sit back and enjoy it.

I did that a few times and found it a wonderful experience – I wished I’d discovered this earlier. It allowed me to enjoy what I had rather than worrying about what the next beer in my paddle was. It also allowed me to take in the festival, which is hard when you’re right in the middle of it.

It also allowed Dave from the Ale of a Time podcast (jeez, a lot of name-dropping going on in this post) to drag me to several stalls and force me to get a glassful of their beer. Which was fine – they were good beers.

At some stage that evening I opted to take a new approach to beer festivals – I would treat them like a big bar. See, when you go to a pub, you usually just look at the beer list on the wall and say ‘‘I’ll have one of those’’ and then go sit down somewhere and enjoy your drink. Or maybe sit down with your friends and have a chat over a beer. I’d argue that sort of social interaction is restricted if you all have a paddle – you’re too focused on tasting the five beers you have to have any decent conversation.

So that’s what I’m going to do this weekend – the festival will be one big bar for me.

Oh yeah, I probably should tell you about the festival. It’s called Froth and Bubbles and it’s in Wollongong. Yep, in my home town. It’s like Beervana but I can catch the bus to get there.

It’s a proper beer festival too. It’s not set up in a car park with about 100 trestle tables and brewers trying to keep kegs cold in buckets of ice. Nope, it’s in the WIN Entertainment Centre. So no matter what the weather’s like, it’ll be fine and dandy indoors. And the kegs will be looked after – no magic boxes (I use this phrase to sound knowledgeable when really I have no idea what a magic box is. But I love the name – anything that beer comes out of has to be magic, right?).

It’s also a proper beer festival because it’s not just the usual suspects bringing their core range along. See, for me, beer festivals are no fun at all if they’re just serving beers I can source at my local bottlo. But at Froth and Bubbles you’ve got the Illawarra Brewing Company and HopDog each premiering two new beers.

Six-String from the Central Coast will be there – which is exciting for me as their beers have never been in town before. James Squire is bringing something special, the brand new Nomad Brewing is turning up.

There’s also the likes of Kooinda, Brewcult, Riverside, Ekim, Cavalier, Feral, Two Birds, Nail and Prickly Moses. Yep, it’s a proper beer festival.

And I’m going to be there all weekend. Or at least as long as my liver can handle. You should come too – it’ll be awesome.

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9 replies »

  1. Interesting approach, I like it! For us in the northeastern Unites States (in New York State specifically), we are required to only get 3 oz pours at beer festivals, so generally filling up an entire glass is illegal. There is definitely the issue at some beer festivals where geeks are like kids in a candy store and don’t have actual conversations with each other but try to run around and try everything. I see it changing among me and my friends thankfully, and hopefully the trend will continue.

  2. I find that 150ml about the smallest taster I can have to appreciate what I’m drinking, so 85ml would be a no go, see you tomorrow.

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