Flagstaff, AZ—Brew Fests…what are they? Why would someone attend these things? What are the inherent dangers? They don’t want you to know any of this, but I think the information in this post is crucial. Here are ten simple rules that can save your life at such an event. So let’s go do the hop.
Made in the Shade is one of the most prominent Brew Fests in all of Northern Arizona, not to mention one of the only ones. This year, under blue and unforgiving Arizona skies, it occurred on Saturday June 25th. For some history on the event, Google it…I never do my homework. Truth be told, I haven’t been to any Brew Fests in a long time—not since the 2007 Boston “incident”. Actually, the advice to avoid these things came from a slew of doctors, law enforcement officials and close personal attorneys. Kidding, it came from other people who have gone to brew festivals with me.
Rule #1: Don’t bring this guy. I did. And I think it’s important the rest of you don’t. Kidding, he’s a lot of fun—but, all the same, don’t do it.
Rule #2: When attending any festival called Made in the Shade bring copious amounts of sunscreen; there was no shade whatsoever. The only break I got from the sun was when I was lucky enough to pass out underneath the salsa bar. By the way, great salsa! I wish I could remember the brand…er, I wish I could remember any of the details of the event, but that’s brew festivals for you.
Rule #3: Scope the place out and go directly to the best area first. In this case it was the Carlsbad connection—Lost Abbey and Stone Brewing were in the same corner. While everyone is getting on line for Podunk Pale Ale and Lowtide Lager, you’re sipping a double abbey, which segues nicely to Rule #4.
Rule #4: You don’t always have to rush. In the picture at left, it’s tough to tell, but the woman on the left is serving Podunk Pale Ale. Notice that line curving onward to the horizon? The woman on the right is serving our silver medal winner for the day’s event, Lost Abbey’s Dubble. Yes, we waited on the wrong line for ten minutes before we realized there was no actual line for the good stuff. Not a soul. Sad but brew.
Rule #5: Perhaps the biggest pitfall is this: they trick you into playing games. This is important. Remember, you have long lines to contend with and only four hours to taste. But, despite my mission, I found myself trying to hit a bowling-pin-shaped thing off a pole with a Frisbee. Sometime around my 75th agonizing toss I realized this is all a diversion! “Follow the shiny ball Mr. Beer Taster guy. Step right up, everybody’s a winner.” Well, not this time, bitches… I put the Frisbee down and remembered what I was there to do. Oooooo, ring toss!!
Rule #6: Never ever bring a camera…mine barely made it out alive, especially after I jumped that chain link fence. Besides, the longer into these fests one gets the more unfathomable your pictures become (see right).
Rule #7: Make sure your tetanus shot is up to date after climbing that rusty chain link fence…you know, that fence you climbed for reasons you don’t quite remember.
Rule #8: There is no rule #8. There was a rule number eight at one point, but this is also the nature of the beast at such events.
Rule #9: You need to bring a Viking helmet. There is nothing cooler at a Brew Fest than a Viking helmet. This is one of the eternal truths.
Rule #10: Always have a designated driver. For this fest I designated the guy holding the two beers with the Frisbee on his head. Always a safe bet.
The winner of the Made in the Shade festival was an imperial stout from Squatters Brewery in Salt Lake City, Utah. It’s called Outer Darkness, which is coincidentally also what I named my hangover the next day. It pains me to crown this brewery king as I was thrown out of that joint about 15 years ago. I still blame Shag for that one. It helps to blame…it really does. Hey, maybe that should be rule #11? Blame Shag. Until next time, be careful out there, so they’re not playing taps after you’ve been hitting those taps. And whatever you do, don’t get distracted—oooo, ring toss!