Strong Beer By The Numbers
Having never been to Strong Beer before – and hearing plenty of horror stories of what people had seen in previous years of drinking gone bad – my attitude leading up to the event was similar to how I would prepare for an endurance race or thru-hike. I stick to the six P’s: Proper planning prevents piss poor performance … or at least quitting mid-race.
The first obstacle to overcome was the fact that each entry included 40 tickets for a 2-ounce pour of craft beer. There is no way I could safely consume 80 ounces of beer, nor would I want to, but I did want to taste as many different beers as I could without a horrendous hangover the next day. Therefore, I made my own tasting cup with a 1-ounce pour line drawn. Booya! I had my objective – taste 40 beers over 5 hours at a precisely measured and safe pace. Unfortunately, I knew this meant some of the pour souls I would be hanging out with would probably over-consume or I could be wasting perfectly good beer – but this was for science!
Regardless of my precise pacing over 5 hours of festive fun, I ended up amply buzzed by the end of the event. Certainly not as snockered as some of my mates … that is without a doubt another story. According to the online BAC calculator, 40 ounces of beer over 5 hours – for my curvaceous and womanly figure – put me at about .06 for my blood alcohol concentration. I am confident this was probably quite accurate for the majority of the event. I definitely felt the effects of alcohol (FUN Sina was quite present) and I could feel that it would not be safe for me to drive, but I never felt faint, hot, sick or in any other way like I was going to embarrass myself to monumental proportions. In this way, my experiment was a success! Sunday was actually quite enjoyable – no hangover and no headache – although I did have a serious craving for junk food.
Where I failed was in my intention to taste 40 distinct beers. By 3:30 pm, it was quite clear that was not going to happen. For the last hour of the festival, I chose to consume double pours at four different breweries (4-ounces in my SB tasting cup, but only 2-ounces from my special cup). Sadness.
Despite fluttering about as a fabulously social butterfly, I managed to come away with a few subjective observations:
My favorite parts of the Strong Beer Festival:
The People! Definitely one of the reasons I didn’t have time to taste 40 distinct beers is because I spent so much time talking to people, taking selfies and just enjoying the company. I did not meet one person at the festival that I failed to have an enjoyable time conversing with.
Brewery Selection. There were actually three sections at the festival I never even made it over to browse. This is a huge event with ample breweries to choose from.
Time of Year: February, while it can get a little hot in the Arizona sun, is beyond perfect for outdoor festivals. As long as sunscreen and water are intelligently employed – anyone should be just fine.
The parts of Strong Beer I did not like:
The Cigars! I wish there was a section just for cigar smokers – maybe a few cigar vendors with “tastings” could be there too. I could not really taste my beers a few times because all I could taste was the cigar stink that I was gagging on. Yuck! I understand that some people really enjoy cigars, but for me – they suck.
The VIP Section. Actually, this is a lie – I do not know if I like it because I never got to visit! I never got my goodie bag. MY BIG CHATTY MOUTH KEPT ME FROM ENJOYING THIS SECTION. I hate myself.
Uber and Lyft Pickup: I have absolutely no ideas to make this less of a cluster f-bomb, so I think it is lame for me to ‘complain’ without offering up ideas for a solution. However, there has to be a better way! Our Lyft driver was 1 minute away for over a half hour. We finally started walking to find him in the lineup and then I literally stopped oncoming traffic so we could turn around once we did. That was the beer … I was still quite happy, not in a condition to drive and obviously being an idiot.
I thoroughly enjoyed Strong Beer – I will be back! My plan next year is to just dump 20 of my tickets straight up (Perhaps a Half-Pint entry?) and spend my 5 hours enjoying 20 distinct tastes at a relaxed pace while catching up with all my beer-blogging and brewer friends.