Love it or Hate it: Beer festivals

by David Holub

Love itOf all the festivals – music, craft, mushroom, art, wine, dandelion, pie, macaroni and cheese – beer festivals are my favorite.

I love paying a flat fee and having nothing but four hours of beer in front of me. I love how beer festivals are always kind of music festivals too, with always-good bands to have something on hand on the small chance four-ounces-at-a-time isn’t enough.

I love the rock-solid excuse for day-drinking.

I love being able to talk with the people who produce and/or have insiders’ knowledge of the beer you’re drinking. Even the folks associated with beers like Colorado Native, which, once you realize they’re brewed by some puppet named AC Golden Brewing Co., which is actually a subsidiary of MillerCoors, you can turn your nose up to it like the beer snobs we all imagine ourselves.

I love the hundreds of different kinds of beer, the good stuff, the weird stuff that breweries are salivating to bring to true beer lovers – coconut stouts, pineapple IPAs, nitro vanilla porters, pepper saisons, farm house ales, apple sours, pear ciders, goosy goses, whathaveyou, then getting to vote on my favorite and arguing with friends about why my vote was the clearly the best.

I love the people-watching, the guy with the beer festival T-shirt going back 15 years, the twisted faces at the two-hour mark, the long lines at the two breweries still pouring by the end, the guy with the crazy beard who apparently came for the beer(d) festival.

Really, it’s everything I love packed into four hours.

– David HolubHate itI’m not really one for festivals. I respect the general spirit of them all (music, booze, renaissance, whatever), but I hate the crowds. It reminds me of living in New York City, pressed against other people’s sweaty bodies in Times Square or shoved into someone’s armpit on the subway. I can handle only so much humanity in one day, and crowds force you to absorb the maximum reality of other human beings in a very short amount of time. It’s exhausting. I’m also impatient and don’t like waiting in line. Festival attendees are rowdy and loud and usually don’t make ideal line buddies.

I do quite enjoy beer. But a festival during which you sample beer after beer seems tricky. First, drinking beer makes you pee a lot, and I don’t relish the prospect of visiting porta potties. They’re rarely clean and often run out of toilet paper or hand sanitizer. And although the samples you receive at beer fests are small, beer is still incredibly filling. You need to eat if you’re drinking, but I’m not sure how much food AND beer I can physically stomach.

I know it hurts to hear this one, but beer is also among the most caloric intoxicating beverages available. Don’t get me wrong, it’s delicious. But I eat enough carbs (pasta, pizza, sandwiches – OK, now I’m getting hungry) in my daily life, so I usually try to stick with spirits. Despite what I might think, beer is still the world’s most widely consumed alcoholic drink, apparently third most popular after water and tea. Our human priorities are clear: 1) Drink water to stay alive 2) Get wasted.

– Anya Jaremko-Greenwold


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