Sunday, October 17, 2010

Like Kids in a Candy Store!

That feeling wasn't exclusively because of the over 100 different beers poured at Albuquerque Hopfest yesterday. I felt more like the kid in the candy store who is being watched like a hawk to ensure he doesn't steal a penny candy. Albuquerque's asinine liquor laws teamed with O'Niell's "We run a bar, but don't want you to actually enjoy alcohol" rules in an attempt to suck all the fun out of the day.

Hopfest attendees were greeted at the gate and given a numbered punchcard that entitled them to 30 one-ounce tastings. They were also given a wristband that was also numbered to correspond with the number on the punchcard. I became number 4769 for the day. The purpose of the numbering system was to have the server check to make sure your card number matched your wristband number, I guess to keep you from passing your unused card punches onto another attendee. Wouldn't want someone to have more than 45 ounces of beer, God forbid!!!

The puritanical rules did not keep people from enjoying their samples at Hopfest. Lines were long but moved very fast, thanks to booth operators who figured a system of having one person check punchcards/wristbands and having another person pour the beer. Servers were also schooled on the beers they were pouring. It was good to see the the Coronado booth server know about the beer and also properly suggest the order of tasting to the people in front of me: the Orange Wit, then the Islander IPA, then the Idiot DIPA.

But back to my rant for a minute. And let me say that none of it reflects on the efforts of Hopfest organizer Marne Gaston or her hardworking volunteer staff. They had to play by the rules, as stupid as they seemed at times. At one point it was just me and the server in the VIP area. I ask for a sample of Odell Woodcut #4, she checks my card and wrist, and pours the beer. It is excellent, and free! Since this is a bottle that retails for $25.99, I ask for another taste. She once again has to check my card and wrist, even though she poured me a sample ten seconds before. This is because a watchful employee of O'Niell's or some Albuquerque agency may not have been looking when she first checked, and just happened to see her pour a second sample without her checking. We could both argue if someone were to challenge the server on not checking my numbers, but do you think the server would be believed? Let's throw all common sense out the window when it comes to regulating beer fests. And let's enjoy the ass-grab pose of the guy in the picture.

I was actually embarrassed and apologetic when talking to brewers from out of state who attended and were surprised and disappointed that they weren't allowed to sample other breweries' beers because of our serving laws. And there were some damn good beers there too: Il Vicino's final kegs of Exodus, Big Sky Heavy Horse Scottish, Sierra's Anniversary Barleywine, Second St. Imperial IPA, and many others. But the important thing is the people who paid for the tickets enjoyed themselves, and everyone I talked to was having a blast. So even though O'Niell's and city laws tried, they could not crush the spirit of Albuquerque craft beer lovers. Next year's event will bring more breweries, more people, and more good times for everyone. Albuquerque's beer revolution cannot be stopped!


Christopher said...

You left out the best part, no sunburn this time around since at least one person remembered to bring and share his sunscreen!

Oh, and there's a potentially solid sale of microbrews at Sunflower Market between now and Wednesday. Always worth checking out to see if any of Hopfest's finest out-of-state brews are available.

MrsMcGilicutty said...

Damn those punch cards! I kept sticking mine in my purse so I wouldn't lose it and then I would hold up the line like an a-hole while I searched for it :(

corrwin said...

hey Patrick, it's Corey, nice talking to you while I was in line at Left Hand and you were heading the other way

Hopfest breweries + Brewfest location + Brewfest $4 pint pours - Hopfest punchcards = somewhere over the rainbow

if ABQ serving laws are such as they are, why were there $4 pint pours at Brewfest. was it because it was a local vendor event? doesn't make sense