I don’t hide the fact that I am not a fan of pouring beer at public beer festivals.
While there are some passionate craft beer lovers mixed in the crowd, there are usually more people there trying to get insanely drunk for as cheap as possible. I’m guessing their thought process is something along the lines of: “Three gallons of the cheapest beer I can buy is $30 and the beer fest tickets are only $25. If I really put forth the effort to over consume, I can get so seriously drunk I won’t be able to drink for several days, thus saving myself even more money.”
I’m pretty sure the fests tell everyone not to allow people to over consume, but I still see it happen. I won’t serve beer to someone that appears intoxicated. Of course, when I cut someone off, they get upset, which is another reason I don’t like public festivals.
Don’t get me wrong, some fests have better crowds than others and I think there are a number of really wonderful people that attend these things. I love talking about craft beer with those folks and I’m sure it has a positive effect on craft beer as a whole to engage these beer lovers, but I just don’t have the peace of mind and saintly level of inner solitude that it takes to deal with the other people.
The “consumers” that bug me the most are those that say, “Gimme your lightest beer.” The first 369 times I responded with, “Are you referring to color? Alcohol? Body? Hopping?” And the response was always the same, “I don’t like beer. What doesn’t have a lot of taste to it? Gimme that one.”
“I don’t think we make a beer you would like,” I respond. “Maybe you should try another booth, as I don’t want you to waste a ticket on beer you wouldn’t like.”
“No, no. Gimme whatever you got,” they insist.
“I’m sure you would be happier drinking something else,” I suggest.
“No, just gimme anything. I don’t want to wait in line again.” So, you have to pour it. Sure, some of them end up thinking it wasn’t so bad, despite the fact that it has bold flavors. However, the majority probably just look at it as more alcohol toward oblivion.
I can handle this a couple times a year, but when I do several of these events close together, the willingness to deal with these folks abandons me. When they ask for the lightest beer, I just go straight to, “You won’t like our beer. Try another booth.” Of course, it never changes the outcome. They still insist and I still pour them the beer with a smile.
I guess this is why I like to have other people who are much more kind, understanding and tolerant than I go to these events. Sure, I still love meeting people passionate about craft beer, but I wish there was a better way than public beer fests to connect with them.
Oh, there is… The American Homebrewer’s Association conference is full of beer geeks. Awesome. I wouldn’t miss it. And then there are some other homebrewer-run campouts in northern and southern California and probably elsewhere in the country. I’m not sure how they keep out the non-beer geeks, but those are great too. By attending these events, it keeps my spirits up and my mouth shut at the public festivals when the next person asks, “What do you have without any taste?”