There’s never really a good time to get a hangover. But one of the worst times would have to be on the same day of a beer festival you’ve waiting months for.
Which is precisely what happened to me on Saturday, the first day of Wollongong’s Froth and Bubbles beer festival (yeah, there was cider and wine there too….but who cares about them?). I’d been stoked about it for ages because it was the first proper beer festival in my home town. It meant I could go there and try loads of great beer and then catch the bus home and sleep in my own bed.
I was invited to the launch party on Friday (cause, you know, I’m pretty important around these parts), which was great. I got to check out the finished set-up on the floor of the entertainment centre – very nice indeed – and sample most of the beers without once having to queue up behind some guy who wants to show off his beer knowledge to the brewer manning the taps.
And so I took great advantage of that. So much so that I woke up the next morning feeling rather less that perfect. If I could have gotten away with it, I would have spent the whole day in bed. But that is never going to happen in a house with a six-year-old who asks “daddy are you okay?” every five minutes.
So I soldiered on with painkillers, Berocca and Gatorade and, by 3.30pm felt okay enough to head back into town for a bit of hair off the dog that bit me the night before. There were three reasons I had to go back in
1) If I didn’t attend the festival after months of looking forward to it, I’d regret it.
2) There were a few beers I still hadn’t tried.
3) I wanted to see if Wollongong was ready for something like this.
Number three really worried me. While Wollongong’s good beer scene is growing I wasn’t sure it was big enough to support a festival like Froth and Bubbles. When it comes to festivals, the ones we see Wollongong are wine festivals with a few beer stalls, all held in car parks with trestle tables and drunk people getting sunburnt.
One thing about car park festivals is that they can’t really change admission. But Froth and Bubbles did come with a $35 entry fee, and then you needed to buy drink tokens on top of that. This set-up is nothing new to beer geeks who regularly go to indoor festivals, but for a number of people in Wollongong, there seemed to be the expectation that the $35 entry fee included all the beer you could drink. Leaving aside the RSA nightmare that would create through people trying to drink more than $35 worth of beer so they can get “in credit”, an indoor festival isn’t cheap. There’s the venue hire and set-up costs, the fees for the bands playing over the weekend and, of course, the brewers would like a bit of cash for their efforts and time.
I was concerned that plenty of people wouldn’t get it and wouldn’t turn up. Or they would turn up but treat it like a pissfest. Either option sucked for me, because this was a festival I really wanted to see succeed because I wanted to to return next year.
So I was pleased when I turned up on Saturday afternoon and saw a pretty big crowd. Rather than hang out on the floor, I would grab a beer and take my slightly hungover arse up one level to sip and watch (which is where the photo at the top of this post was taken). As you can see there was a pretty good crowd – a lot of people but not so many that you couldn’t get around. And everyone seemed to be having fun, with hardly anyone getting “tired and emotional” (except the one guy who was tapped on the shoulder by security while I was talking to him and escorted from the building).
It was all a very happy surprise and made me think that, at least for some people attending, they would go on to become part of the city’s growing craft beer market.
The festival itself was great and I really hope it comes back next year. I promise I won’t be hungover on the first day too.
Categories: Venues and events