I apologize (to anyone who might notice such things) for my absence the past few days. I’m not sure I can muster sufficient excuses for the end of last week, but I can, from recent experience, assure you this:
When you plan to attend something called a ‘Beer Summit’ at half past noon on Saturday, you should really plan on getting nothing else done for the rest of the day.
Also, when said Beer Summit lasts for four hours and features only brews with seven percent alcohol or greater, you probably shouldn’t make any grand plans for Sunday morning, either. Possiibly Monday or Tuesday, either.
My lost day-and-a-half notwithstanding, the sudsy event was well worth the effort. I’ve been to similar shindigs before, with slightly different but oh-so-clever names — ‘BrewFests’, ‘Beer-O-Ramas’, ‘Brew ‘n’ Tells’, and ‘In-Law Family Reunions’, to name a few. And they’ve all followed the same sort of protocol as yesterday’s function — except for the reunions, of course, which are booze-soaked free-for-alls from the first bite of macaroni salad in the afternoon until the wee hours of the next morning, when we usually end up turning the hose on Uncle Floyd to get him off the roof. With that notable exception, the beer tastings usually go something like this:
Upon arriving, you’re handed some sort of drinking vessel — an oversized shot glass, usually, though yesterday we got the sort of plastic cup you might use for water in a child’s bathroom. Or to provide a urine sample at the doctor’s office. You’d be amazed how little beer it takes to shake the notion that you’re sipping yellow frothy liquid from a specimen jar, too. By the third drink, I was completely over it.
At the same time, you get your tickets. The rule is, one ticket for one beer. And one ‘beer’ means one shot in the glass or cup — two ounces, maybe three — up to the ‘fill line’. Now, back in the giddy old days, before any of us cared too much about wrapping the car around a tree on the way home or the health risks of having a liver the size of a small horse, they’d hand out twenty tickets, or even more. In recent years, the number’s been ten. Ten tickets, ten teeny shots of beer. Them’s the rules.
Of course, rules are always meant to be broken. Or at least bent. And rules involving beer doubly so.
This is where a bit of strategery comes in. I’ve found it’s best to spend the first five or six tickets wandering around and finding the good stuff. The really distinctive, quirky, top-shelf, never-heard-of-it-before brews. Seek them out, take your time, and savor them. Besides the fact that this will draw out the time it takes to use up your tickets, if you’re doing it right, these beers will also be the last thing you taste all day. Treat ’em right.
If you’ve sufficiently drawn out those first few tickets, you’ll be about an hour into the festivities, and you’ll have a significant advantage over several groups of people who attend these things:
This is the time where a smart Summitteer can really clean up, if one is careful — and still able — to observe the dynamics that emerge. The chuggers, desperate for more, will work on the people running the event for more tickets. It doesn’t always work, but when it does — as it did yesterday — then it’s simple enough to follow their lead and grab another roll of tasty, tasty tickets.
Meanwhile, the lightweights are just about toasted, and the connoisseurs are getting bored with the ‘pedestrian fare’ that no doubt can’t match up to the concoctions they’re all brewing in their bathtubs at home. Personally, I prefer my beer without hair from the shower drain. But to each his own.
Anyway, when these folks leave they’ve got to do something with their leftover tickets. Latch onto a couple of the wobblier- and/or haughtier-looking candidates, and rack up the vouchers. Or, as I told one of my more ‘chuggery’ friends yesterday, stand by the door with your glass empty, your pockets turned out, and a sad, thirsty look on your face. Eventually somebody will take pity on you.
Of course, all these strategies become moot with an hour or so left to go in the event. That’s when the brewers invariably realize that they’ve brought way too much beer to the party, and are going to have to lug it home if they don’t get rid of it. Plus, they know that the drinkers left so late in the game are the serious kind, and the need for silly games and rules like ‘tickets’ and ‘fill lines’ has passed. That’s when things get really interesting, and it’s best just to drink whichever beer happens to be at the closest booth when your glass runs dry. You don’t want to waste time at that point, and frankly, you probably shouldn’t be walking very far, either. Grab a few more cold ones, and crawl out the door when they tell you to. That’s a good little Summitteer.
So, that was my Saturday. I thought about posting something when I got back last night. At least, I think I thought about posting, but at one point I thought I was channelling the spirit of a 13th-century German monk, so it may have been someone else. It was really a good time, is what I’m saying.
So, there you go. I’ll do better this week, I promise. And there are a couple of changes in the works that I’ll talk about soon, once my brain cells get their shit the rest of the way together again. For now, I think I’ll have a nice lie down, and try not to think about beer for a while. Not until the next Summit, anyway. Cheers.Permalink | 4 Comments