( I swear writing one of these sounds like I am writing a letter to Penthouse forum. Hey look at the cool stuff I did, and listen to me brag about it. Its not my intent. But the excitement is very similar)
Saturday was starting off early. As ussual! Madison is a good 3 hours from home. So, not knowing much about where I was going to park catch up with the guys… I left at around 7:45 AM.
I caught a couple text’s from Dave telling me they would be at the park when I got into town. It was confirmed that I would be serving and I was on my own for a parking space. Parking worked out well… I pulled up to a baricade and talked to a “Police Ranger” asking him where to park. He told me that the area I was in was restricted to staff. I told him I was serving for a brewery… He let me park without any more questions!
One text to Dave, and he was on his way down with my wristband. I stood around at the gate for a while… But after watching all these dudes walking through proclaiming they were volunteers… I realized I was doing that “Law Abiding Citizen” thing that I seem to be falling into. Must be making up for past transgressions?
I caught Dave midway to the gate. We headed to the O’Fallon booth to find head brewer, Brian Owens, hanging out with his new brewing partner Jason Small. This is killer! Brian never comes to these fests! Well, not the few that I have caught up with Dave at in the past. Dave is now representing Buffalo Brewing Company. So, I would be left wtih Brian and Jason. I was praying that I would not let them down! This was all new to me! Brian was pretty easy. He said “go grab some beers” when we were just standing around.
I started to wander.
One mega-plus side to showing up to a fest 2 hours early… Turns out that you have lots of time to sample beers before the crowds are released. I had to tweet our buddies Mike and Chad that I was getting a pretty good buzz while they were standing in line outside!
I looked around a lot of stations. Said “Hello” to Matt Potts from DeStihl. He was obvously in the middle of some hose problem when I tried to chit chat. I grabbed a St. Dekkara Sour… It was brilliant as usual. Ran into Travis at the FFF booth and talked a bit. I was tipped off by Brian to check out the wild beers over at the Livery. Holy Crap! They had 4 amazing sours! All excellent!
This kind of sets the mood. You have all these great beers at your fingertips. What do you do? Well for me… I get bored doing this by myself. I got back to O’Fallon and readied myself for the crowds. Brian gave me a rundown the beers and ABV we were serving.
Wheach, Gold, 5 Day IPA, Hemp Hop Rye, Black Hemp and some freshly bottled Pumpkin Beer.
We still had lots of time. I got a chance to talk with Jason and found out that he is just like the rest of the brewers in this St. Louis circle… Laid back and easy going. Learned some new info on the brewery: Stu, who we first met at the brewery when he was low man on the pole… Had left for a corporate job (Ha! Sorry Stu! Missed ya!) Also, Tony and Fran had some the brewery to Jim Gorczyca, a former A/B executive. Turns out that our lack of O’Fallon beers in Peoria were part of a larger problem as the brewery was going through some struggles. Jim did not come to the fest, too bad, I wanted to meet him. But there is word they GOOD changes will be coming soon for the brewery.
We had a few regulars at teh booth that loaded up on Wheach… Turns out they were all St. Louis transplants that were missing their local beer. I was pretty generous on a few of these ladies pours. They kept coming back to seek me out!
About 3 hours in… I ran off again. You will see that in the video. Its a madhouse. It had rained that morning… And I had hoped that it would not turn into a mudbath. The grass stayed amazingly dry-ish. About 5PM it started raining again, but by that time… The grass was the last thing on my mind.
I did run into Chad and Mike from the Peoria beer scene. We had a frantic “Bonus Round” for the last hour. I used by brewers pass to grab a few (dozen) behind the tappers glasses before the fest shut down at 6.
After that… I hit our station for tear down. We still had some beer… So, those kegs were heavy! After getting the truck all packed up. We headed over to the brewers dinner. That was a welcome relief. As you can hear from my voice at teh end of teh video. I was horse, and pretty exhausted. Some chow and a Coke had me back in good spirits for the rest of our night out. You see… Everybody hits the local bars after the fest!!! So, I will leave you with this…. It was more drinking and beer talk till 1AM!
Good times! Thanks Dave, Brian and Jason!!!!
Oh, the ap for the Great Taste. I almost forgot. It was cool… But it was far to complicated and tedious for guys drinking beers. Then again… I was not spending time in lines. That might be a good place to use it. Also, bandwith was at a premium during the fest. I am guessing that all 3000 folks there had a smart phone in their pocket, and you could tell this by the slow network response on the ap.