I will say that it wasn't without regrets. Thanks to a faulty hose, I woke up Saturday morning on someone else's couch wondering how I was going to deal with my car and (more importantly) how I was going to find the energy to be on my feet being nice to people all day. Actually, I woke up thinking "UGH," but in hindsight I think that was what it was about. After a brownie and a quick shower, I opted to put the car off and just head into town.
I've random thoughts about the day, most of which can be associated with one beer or another.
I should be a ninja. I'm more and more convinced that if you act like you belong somewhere, no one will think to question you. I wandered around for a good twenty minutes talking to reps and sampling random taps before my people came in to set up our table. I was sipping Brewery Ommegang's Ommegeddon while talking with the that guy from FK when Mike and Mike arrived.
Concept cars of the beer world. As near as I can tell the biggest difference between the Jubilee and EBF is the fact that the latter has a somewhat wider selection of "out there" beers. While this can provide some interesting diversions, a lot of them were either underwhelming (pretty much all of the "Belgians" I tried), weird (Offshore Brewing Company's Rye Not, Avery’s The Kaiser), or just not that good (Dogfish Head's Forte.) While I do appreciate brewers pushing “one step beyond,” I'm just not convinced that: a) every high-gravity beer gets better if aged in old bourbon casks, b) every style needs some kind of "extreme" iteration, c) throwing a lot of extra malt and/or hops at a beer necessarily makes something worth drinking, or d) an "out there" brew is necessary for a maker to distinguish itself.
An angry beer. Near the end of the first session, one of the knurds came over to try the Old Guardian Barleywine. At first taste, he seemed a little perplexed and said, "If I were to enter this into a competition - and I'm a judge at beer competitions - I'd enter this as an old ale. I just don't think that this would fare that well in the barleywine category..." Without hesitation, the rep responded, "Stone has an eight-year history of defying standards, and I seriously doubt that that's going to change anytime soon. If you like our beer, that's great. If not, I’m really ok with that too." Moral: When you're talking to the rep from a company whose flagship beer is called Arrogant Bastard, it's probably not a great idea to pontificate about how well their beers fit within style categories.
You’re a shining star. There were some very good beers kicking around, however. Notables from the day were Founders Brewing Company’s Breakfast Stout and Devil Dancer, Lagunitas’ Brown Shugga, and Offshore Ale Company’s Stonewall IPA. Notables from the time when we were sitting around while the BA people ran around cleaning up were Stone’s 5th Anniversary IPA (released in 2001 and aged since), and Brewery Ommegang’s Cave-Aged Ommegang. When we cracked the latter, Mike said that he wished he had some aged goat cheese to go with it. I reached into my bag and pulled out the bloomy Clochette I had with me and blew his mind. Everyone gathered was asking him where he found me. Fear my cheese, for it is mighty.
I was glad to see some of you cycling through in various stages of inebriation. Otherwise, I got to talk to a lot of homebrewers and a couple of artists, and no one hissed at me all day. I had fun.