So out of nowhere, this very blog was selected as "Beer Blog of the Week" by the fine gentlemen of Beer Tap TV. Eric Boles and Eli Shayotovich host a weekly internet TV show all about beer! From events to tastings to beer-related news, these guys know their beer and are entertaining to boot! I hope to raise a few with them someday. I am very humbled to have been selected. Thanks guys!
In a Hop Press article this week, fellow writer Brian Cendrowski reviewed his trip to the Chaleston Brewvival beer festival and it made me think about the festivals I have been to and will go to. This coming weekend is the Florida Brewers Guild Beer Festival in Ybor City, an event I have been to numerous times. However this time I will be attending as a member of the "press". Being invited to a festival takes on a different feeling than just attending one. There is a certain responsibility that comes with it to not only prove that you belong as a recognized beer writer/journalist, but also to represent your sponsor, even if it is just yourself. In my case I am representing the Hop Press by RateBeer.com, the St. Petersburg Craft Beer Examiner, and of course Beer for the Daddy. My conduct directly reflects on all three (even more than the following article to a certain extent), and can very well determine future invites. Drunken, slovenly behavior is not usually appreciated by hosts or sponsors.
That said, these ARE beer festivals. Alcohol is part of the equation. And when you have twenty five craft brewers from Florida, and god-knows how many other great craft breweries represented, even if one were to only taste a single beer from each ("tastes" roughly being 1-2 ounces)... well, you do the math.
But something I have noticed about myself at recent festivals is that I am being more selective about what I choose. Maybe it is a sign of being a little more mature, maybe a sense of responsibility... maybe I am actually taking the time to TASTE the beers now. Yes, intoxication is pretty much a given, but obliteration is not. Back in my days at the old Harp and Thistle Pub we used to call it "that slightly blessed feeling, where you are oozing good will and compassion." Its a good state to be in.
Beer festivals have a tendency to bring out a variety of people. Of course, you have the beer geeks, hop heads, malt-lovers, home-brewers and so on. Then you have the people in the business... sales reps, distributors, brewers, and bar owners.
From there things start to go downhill. Its a toss-up to me which is worse: the frat-boy drunk or the beer-snob. The frat-boy drunk is the loud obnoxious guy sporting his Hollister shirt (2 sizes too small) trying to drink as much beer as he can and trying to find the highest alcohol beers only. He does taste, he guzzles. He probably will try to sound like he knows something about beer by making "poignant" statements like "I'm really into beer these days. Mostly I like lagers and ales." He will say this with a straight face.
The beer-snob is at the other end of the spectrum; she knows her beers. In fact, she knows YOUR beers. Better than you do. And she knows what is good, regardless of what you actually like. She will recite the OG, IBUs, and ABVs of everything you mention (WTF... seriously...) And she will tell you she will not enter a bar that serves Budweiser. She too will say this with a straight face, and probably an upturned nose.
But do not let the inevitable appearance of these two deter you from attending. They are easy to spot, and easy to avoid. It is not hard to find the beer geeks and genuine craft beer lovers, and they will most likely welcome you into their conversations, talk about the beers that have tried and liked, and direct you to ones you may not have found yet.
Saturday I am looking forward to tasting many of the Florida craft beers I have not had a chance to sample before. Swamp Head, Saint Somewhere, and a few I have never heard of are tops on my list. Most of all, I am looking forward to talking to some of the brewers and hearing their stories and ideas for the future of craft brewing in Florida. The event proceeds all go directly to moving pro-craft beer legislation in Florida government, spearheaded by the Florida Brewers Guild.