This past Saturday, the West Coast Brewfest was held at Miller Park in Sacramento. Within spitting distance of two rather confused whales, I and several hundred of my closest friends partook in that fine summer event, the brewfest. Unlike an Oktoberfest celebration wherein men wear high socks and lederhosen and the women pour themselves into lace-up bodices, the brewfest calls for a completely different wardrobe. The typical brewfest attendee is typically garbed in: for males, shorts, flip-flops, t-shirt sporting comical yet cynical saying and sunglasses; for ladies, shorts/skirts, flip-flops, t-shirt sporting comical yet cynical saying referring to men’s inability to use good judgment when choosing a mate, and sunglasses.
Men’s choices in clothing this year ran the gamut from my clever shirt (a picture of the California Grizzly and underneath the saying, “Hecho En California”) to less clever (a guy with a white t-shirt on which he had written in Sharpie “Hi! My name is Chris Hanson,” to which I asked “Who is Chris Hanson?” and he says “The guy from that show where they catch the perverts,” at which point I just went along with him, not wanting to tell him that the star of Dateline NBC’s popular show “To Catch a Predator” is named Chris Hansen, not Hanson) to the mundane (the guy in the Lark wearing the “Show me your tits” shirt, but he did make up for that by having a bumper sticker on the back of the Lark that said “Just Lazy”, and he told Mrs. Eats that she had spectacular boobs). Ladies fashions were a bit more subdued other than the Germanic amounts of cleavage that were being sported by everyone from old ladies to toddlers. Overall, the crowd was fun and lovable at the brewfest, except for that lady who ran into me, spilled her beer all over her hand and then wiped it on my clever shirt. Apparently, she thought that I had run into her and was “zinging” me by wiping her beer sodden cougar claw on my wonderfully clever shirt. So, I don’t want to seem petty here, but I sure hope she dies…soon.
Anyway, you probably want to know about the beer, and I would too because the truth is, I didn’t get to drink much. The event was listed as running from 1-5pm, so we showed up a little later than I wanted to but not too late at 2:30pm. Rather to my surprise, some of the breweries whose craft brews I was looking forward to tasting were already packing up and calling it a day at 2:45pm. By 3pm, nearly half of the breweries were out of beer and no longer pouring. This may have been because most of the pourers were giving each person a nearly full mug of beer per “taste.” Now, I’m no genius when it comes to weights and measures, especially liquid measure, more especially if you throw in the metric system, but I’m thinking that a pouring a full mug of beer per person not only slows up the lines, but also causes you to run out beer at three fucking o’clock at an event that is supposed to last until five goddamned o’clock and for which I spent $30 which got me four whole “tastes” of beer.
You may be able to tell that I am somewhat passionate about the whole concept of the brewfest. To say I was disappointed would be accurate, but the day was not a total loss. To temper my disappointment, a few brews rose above the rest and colored the day with a softer, kinder light. Here are a few worth checking out at your local store, brewery, alehouse or brothel: 1) Almost anything by the two Czech breweries that had product there, Klaster and Kralovsky Pivovar Krusovice. 2) Absolutely everything from Sequoia Brewing Co in Fresno, yes that’s right, Fresno. They have nummy beers. 3) From our friends at the North Coast Brewing Company in Ft. Bragg comes Brother Thelonious Belgian Style Abbey Ale. Not only is this a very tasty beer, but it has a snazzy label featuring jazz icon Thelonious Monk. And that’s not all, part of the proceeds received from every bottle goes to the Thelonious Monk Jazz Institute to further jazz education. How can you not want to support that?
A special word goes to the Gold Country Brewers Association. They were very kind to me and my friend Tom when we attended one of their events in March, and they were equally nice at the brewfest. They were serving a delicious home brewed cider that was exceptional. I have recently put their name in a for an Editor’s Choice award in the “Best of Sacramento” put on by Sacramento Magazine and I hope that they’re recognized.
Anywhoo, the brewfest was a little lacking in terms of variety but not in terms of people watching. Next year, they may want to tell the pourers to lighten up or bring more product or both. Oh yeah, and one more thing, how bout a few more port-o-lets? The two that were near the entrance were full to bursting by 4pm. I mean full, like the soupy mix of human effluvia was forming a meniscus at the top of the bowl kind of full.
I’ll leave you with that image.
11 thoughts on “West Coast Brewfest”
Incidentally, regarding comments earlier about isn’t a beer fest a bunch of DUIs waiting to happen… driving with the family we accidentally found our way by Miller Park as the beer fest was letting out. A bunch of people walking from a beer fest to their cars does actually seem like a horrendously bad idea.
But our only run in was with those 3 “cruiser bike” dudes. I say this because I assume they made giant asses of themselves at the beer fest as they did weaving in and out of traffic when they left. They moved me to road rage, I’m sorry to say. I hope one of them rode into the river and got eaten by Delta.
I had a great time at the Beerfest. I got there early (to set up). But at the stroke of 1PM, I was off talking to the brewmasters of 4 different breweries and handing out my Hop Heads propaganda. I learned a lot from the brewers, and was very lucky to casually enjoy the beer without fighting the crowds and lines. I had to leave early to catch Zinfest, too. Busy day!
The Chadd: does the Hop Heads propaganda call for a full-scale invasion of the Pyramid Breweries facility in Berkeley? if so, i’m in…
Glad you could all attend and enjoy our event. Though, just to correct, beer didn’t actually start getting low until after 3 which started at the first tent (always the case since they get hit the most) and most of the brewers there were only pouring half mugs. Some others ran out because they only brought a small bit of their beer, and since it is all donated, we are gracious for any chance to taste their brew. By 4pm, about a third of the breweries were out, a third were almost bust and a third were still strong. But, overall, it was a great event. We had about 2700 drinkers and about 300 designated drivers. Most of which arrived at 1 and left at three. Since we are one of the last of the UNLIMITED microbrew tastings, we always recommend everyone to get there at one, because we cannot guarantee that beer will be there til 5. Hope to see you at our other events… Northern California Blues Festival, SUDS on the GREEN and the newly revamped FAIR OAKS’toberfest!
Yeah, I’ll also have to disagree with the statement that half of the brewers were out of beer by 3:00. Totally not true. I ran around to every brewer at 3:00 to check their supplies, and less that 5 were out and packing up at that time and only a third were close to running out. By 4, only a third of the almost 50 breweries were dry and packing up.
I will agree with the statement that your wife has a nice rack.
Next year, try the 15 port-o-johns in the back of the fest.
Oh, if you attended the fest and want to supply feedback, click here for a brief survey of the WCBF:
I think the moral of the story is: Show up early!
And smaller pours could keep the lines moving and the beer flowing until after 4pm.
And Stickie, I’m a little disappointed that you didn’t stop around to say hi and check out my wife’s rack.
I could see it from where I was standing. 🙂
About the pours… I think about a half a mug is adequate for events like this. Have you ever been to the Rotary Club fest? Fun, but they patrol the brewers, acting as beer Nazis and yelling at people for pouring too much. They even print a little dotted line on the glass to encourage 2 oz pours. Lame.
The folks who run these fests NEVER want to be put into that position (I’ll speak on their behalf, as we’ve had this discussion in the past) as it makes the organizers look like pricks and, even worse, makes the good people who volunteer their time, energy and beer look like pricks. THEY don’t want to be put in that position, either.
So, IMO, the only way to regulate the pours is to hand out smaller mugs. Do they sell 4 oz mugs?
Let me know next time you’ll be in attendance at a beer fest, I’ll probably be there…
We had a great time. We were still pouring Sac Brew until 5pm. We had 4 different brews. We were close enough to the line of port-o-lets at the back where there were very few people. I enjoyed the variety I sampled from everyone. Overall – a great event.
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