What goes better with occasional rain showers, heavy mist, and strong gusty winds you ask? Well how about the Good Beer Festival? Add to that dearly loved friends you have not seen in a year or more and you have all the makings of a memorable weekend. Friday evening a life long friend of Atomic Donkey Brewing joined myself for a nice 5.5 hours session of labeling all the Good Beer HomeBrew Competition entries. Perhaps the most frustrating thing was not the peeling, writing, and sticking on of labels, but the fact that were surrounded by 102 beers which we could not drink. It was a true test of self control. We did prevail and celebrated upon returning to the brewery by drinking as many beers as quickly as we could. Turns out that was not a great idea going into the weekend.
The evening of Friday the 11th we were joined by two more great friends from my college days. The good times were rolling. We all woke up Saturday morning still feeling a little bit of the fun from the night before. But nothing was going to stop us. Around noon, 5 of us piled in a taxi van and headed to Pemberton Historical Park for the Good Beer Festival. When we left the brewery the weather was overcast but warm. perfect drinking weather. No sun to beat on you for hours. It's worth mentioning that we used Riverside Transportation Service and had one of the best drivers I think I've ever had for a ride. Funny guy and just a good guy all around.
As soon as we stepped out of the taxi at Pemberton the mist began to fall. It would stay off and on the entire day. This inevitably kept the numbers down from last years sunny and 89 degree festival. I was however impressed with the number of people that still turned out. And it was clear early on that the folks that came out came to have fun. With 53 breweries on hand, it was not hard to get right up to the table and get your sample. At a festival this size its hard to pick out a favorite. I will say that after our initial walk through and tastings, we found ourselves returning to the tables for The Brewers Art, Firestone Walker Brewing Company, Southern Tier Brewing Company, LongTrail Brewing Company, and Victory Brewing Company. Those were just some of the highlights. There were very few brews I wouldn't have again. The mist came and went the rest of the day. Everyone there seemed to be having a great time. We were there till they kicked us out. Then it was back to the brewery for a nice southern style BBQ dinner with yet even more friends. A visibly startled babysitter had a good laugh watching all of us crazy people. Thank you again if you're reading this. A real lifesaver. The drinks slowed a bit after everyone's belly's were full. Our local friends took off back to their place and we all crashed shortly thereafter. Plenty more drinking was in store on Sunday. Had to give our drinking muscles a break.
Sunday morning came pretty quickly. We were all moving a bit slower than the day before. The quietness was a sure sign of plenty of fun the previous day. Myself and one of our visiting friends had to be at the festival grounds around 9:30 to make sure the Homebrew Competition was set up and ready to go. Plus, for some damn reason he decided that running in the Hangover 5k was a good idea. Nothing says fun like running 3.1 miles with a belly full of beer and bbq. Before the race started he and some others helped to get things organized and ready. Of course as I found out last year, there is always something more that could have been done. But thanks to the help of many others, I think things went pretty smoothly. More kinks to be worked out next year but we are learning all the time.
The competition started around 10:30 Sunday morning and finished at approximately around 4:30 or so. A big thanks to all the judges and stewards. it was a long day. We were lucky that the rain held off all day. The folks that made it out to the fest on Sunday got the best weather of the weekend. As always, on Sunday the crowd was thinner. This allowed for even faster access to the brews. Not sure if that's good or bad. I was not able to sample nearly as much as I did on Saturday due to the competition. But I had a blast. The top 3 winners are posted below. Atomic Donkey Brewing made the Best of Show round with our Hefeweizen but did not place in the top 3. Top 10 our of 100+ brews is a good day anyways. The winner truly deserved it. A Raspberry Kolsch took home the big prize and it was very deserving of it. Every beer in the Best of Show round was great. The judges did a perfect job of putting through the most deserving brews. A big thanks to everyone that submitted entries this year. We grew the competition in a big way in the second year. I know the third will be even bigger and better organized.
It was a wet and wild weekend spent with loved ones. There could have been a monsoon and we still would have had an amazing time. Its sad when times like that come to an end, even if its just temporary. We already miss our friends and the times we had. But there is always next year, and hopefully those random times in between. We at Atomic Donkey Brewing hope you all had a sun and safe weekend. CHEERS!
Name – Raspberry Kolsch
Name – Mc IPA
Strong Scotch Ale
Name – Wee Little Ditty