I Survived Strong BEer Fest 2018
If you’re reading this, I survived Strong Beer Fest 2017.
After nursing a slight hangover, taking a few days to come down from the festive high, and recollecting my thoughts, here’s a rookie tips recap of Strong Beer Fest 2018.
Soon as I got through the gate I made a beeline for a recognizable tent. Mountains and a telescope. Yep, Dark Sky Brewing was the first to take my drink tickets. And I had to go dark at Dark Sky. Getting it jumpin’ out the gate with that 9.2% ABV Astro Cookie. Not even noon and I’m drinking a dark beer that tastes of Oreos and decisions so bad that they’re oh so good.
Get proof you were there.
Easy enough. Right next to the Dark Sky tent was some perfectly placed scaffolding with a sign that said love, beer, and some other words. Do I love beer? Do people write rhetorical questions to prove a point? Do they also take pictures showing their love of beer? Yes, to all 3. Disregard the caution tape in the background. The only thing I murdered that day was a few last tappings on kegs and possibly my liver.
Can’t get Gold? Settle for Silver
We’re about 3-4 beers in at this point and in that mode where you feel anxious to try as much as you can before the lines start getting crazy. And then I see a framed picture with a medal draped across it. Looking closer it wasn’t one of those little league participation trophies that your parents put up on the mantle because they love you so much; it was an actual accomplishment. A real medal! Silver at Strong Beer! Well I have to try this, especially since I’ve been standing in front of this tent peering down at this framed picture with a medal on it like I’m losing my eyesight or I have a crazy kink in my back. And am I oh so glad that I did. Predation, a barrel aged s’mores imperial stout, from Wren House was one of the most memorable beers from the festival. Hence, the medal.
If you ain’t first, you’re last! Or just farther back in the line
You’re in the thick of the afternoon. Over a third (or is it half?) of your drink tickets have mysteriously vanished from your pocket. You’re trying to convince yourself it has to be a mistake. No way you’ve drank THAT much. Then your phone buzzes in your other pocket that doesn’t have the magical disappearing tickets. Who the heck… oh it’s those incredibly handy push alerts you signed up for a couple days back so the omniscient Strong Beer gods could alert you to rare tappings happening throughout the day. You see the words imperial, stout, and fudge. Your heart flutters with beer love as your eyes scan the tents hoping to see the special tent with this chosen brew. Lights from above shine down, as angelic beings from the land where your “missing” drink tickets probably ended up sing on high, to spotlight your target. It’s 10 minutes before Lagunitas taps their imperial stout called Fudge & Sickle, and guess what, you’re first in line. Moral of this story: text alerts for a beer festival can be a godsend.
Don’t be afraid to try beers that look like they might turn you into the 5th Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle
Things might be starting to wind down for you at this point. Your palate for sure is not what it used to be a couple of hours and many ounces ago. So why not shock your system? Go outside your usual comfort zone of styles and see what you can manage. Tommy’s Lullaby from 12 West/Grand Canyon/Bottleshop 48 made me do a double take at first. I normally don’t do sours and just for safety’s sake, I try not to drink anything that looks like it might turn me into the Hulk or Master Splinter’s next protégé. Sadly I didn’t get to join the Avengers or become a hero with a half shell, BUT I found one of the few sours that I do like, so cheers to that!
Appreciate the people that put up with you
You are only as good as the company you keep. And at social events like these I think it is vital that you have a good crew behind you. So I wanted to take the time and give a special shout out to my beer drinking partner in crime. Victoria, or as I call her Vic, is my ultimate companion for all things beer festivals. We’ve put a few under our belt together and Strong Beer Fest 2018 was a fun new notch to add to the list.
Get ready for the next go round
But Joel, I missed out on Strong Beer Fest! Or Joel, I can’t wait a whole year for another awesome Arizona beer festival! Have no fear fair reader for I have the answer to your exclamations. Three words: Real, Wild, and Woody. It’s a one-of-a-kind indoor summer beer festival that specializes in wild ales, sours, cask aged, and rare barrel aged beers. Not too many details on this just yet but be sure and follow the Arizona Craft Brewers Guild on their social media pages in the coming months as the hype continues to ramp up.
Fun fact you obviously learned from this article: I can count to 7!
But seriously, Strong Beer Fest was a blast and I see now why it’s an annual highlight of AZ Beer Week. Plus, I’m already pumped about Real, Wild, and Woody! If you haven’t been to a beer festival, I highly recommend it. And if you do attend, I hope to see you there!