Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Random, Gorgeous Evening Ramblings

I wish I had some great beer story to share with you tonight, but really all I have are a couple simple sentences. It's the last day of March, MARCH everyone, and I'm sitting outside on our deck, which is completely free of snow. The birds are chirping and the frogs in the nearby pond are going gangbusters with their song. I'm sans shoes (but in full disclosure I should mention, also a sweatshirt) and enjoying a fine, craft brewed beer.

My baby toe on the left foot is trying to convince me it's clear sailing from here on out but the rest of me knows this the the calm before the storm. The snowstorm which is sure to arrive before we're truly free of winter's hold. But in the meantime, soak it in. It's good for the soul.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Firkin Fest 2010

The day after a beer festival is always one for reflection, be it prompted by someone else (“So how was the beer fest yesterday?”) or on one’s own. For yesterday’s Firkin Fest, I’d say pretty good, overall, but there were a few glaring points that put a damper on the whole thing.

Glaring Point #1 – Someone who was organizing the event made the very, very poor choice not to purchase/rent barcode scanners. Many people purchased their tickets in advance, online and brought their barcoded tickets to the event. Checking people in should have been a quick and simple procedure but no. Instead of using the barcodes as intended, the people doing the checking in had to go through the attendee list to verify tickets by last name, which not surprisingly, resulted in a very long line and an unacceptable wait to get in.

Glaring Point #2 – Another poor decision was to only bring in 5 port-a-potties. I don’t know how many people attended, or were anticipated, but 5 port-a-potties was in no way going to cut it. In past years there have been two to three times that number. Thankfully, this was remedied part way through the fest as additional units were brought in.

Glaring Point #3 – There were just way too many people there (so maybe it was good that line to get in was so long that some people simply left). I understand wanting to do well financially on an event, but it got really packed inside the tent and quite a few of the firkins were blown much earlier in the festival than I would have anticipated.

Now, enough of the gloom and doom (maybe better phrased as “ways to improve next year’s fest”) and onto the beer. And there was some REALLY great beer to be had!

Favorite Beer #1 – I’m gonna have to go with the crowd here and agree that Lift Bridge’s Chestnut Hill: “A La Nutsack” was the best of the fest. And I couldn't describe it any better than Jill did with her “Nutella in a glass” description.

Favorite Beer #2 – Goose Island Citra Hop IPA really surprised me. With the exception of some of their specialty beers, I’m generally lukewarm about Goose Island brews. This one however was a wonderfully grapefruitty hopped brew.

Favorite Beer #3 – My third favorite isn’t technically a beer, but a cider from Fox Barrel Cidery. Bonnie was not only tasty, and a redhead, but a sassy one, too. “Bonnie is the kind of girl who handcuffs you to the bed.” ‘Nuff said.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

St. Patrick's Day

What’s not to like about a holiday where you’re expected to drink? It’s great when it falls on a weekend but when it falls during the week the other commitments in our lives come into play when deciding how to celebrate.

A couple years back I decided, after years of wanting to, that I was going to take the day off (or maybe it was just the afternoon). Anyway, it turned out to be not quite as fun as I’d hoped but still, the idea of taking a day off in the middle of the week to start drinking in the AM with some like-minded, jolly folks seems appealing.

I hadn’t given it much thought this year until I learned that in someone’s infinite wisdom where I work, it was decided that our annual two-day conference should take place March 17 & 18. I wonder, did it occur to ANYONE, that this might not be a great time to hold an event that requires the entire office to staff it? Oh sure, for our attendees, especially the ones from out of town, staying the night at a nearby hotel, they’re probably living it up. Hmmm…maybe first thing tomorrow morning we should take bets on how many totally hung over people show up.

But back to the celebrating, or lack there of in my case. Now I know I could go out after a long day of work, but honestly the evening crowd is not who I want to be out drinking with. Those folks will be drinking their fill of green beer and more power to them. Nope, I’m staying in. But in honor of this drinking holiday, I’ll be celebrating in my own little way…starting off with a very worthy brew, Hopslam. Hope you enjoyed the holiday to the best of your ability. And maybe next year we can start the day off with breakfast and a pint together.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Beer Recidivism

I don't know what it is about The Happy Gnome that keeps drawing me back again and again, only to be disappointed again and again. It's a place I want to love and frequent often (Ouch, how's that for a horrible phrase?), but I seem to keep getting burned. I like the location, the building is fantastic and has a great atmosphere and the beer selection is solid. They have an active beer menu and interesting/frequent events. And yet these things are not enough to outweigh my disappointment.

I don't care for the menu. It's not for me. But that doesn't really bother me. The beers can be very pricey. But what the hell else am I gonna spend my money on? Clothes? Furniture? A manicure? Ha! Moot. The place can be very crowded. So what. These aren't the issue.

So what is it that turns me off about the joint? Its the staff and the service. Time after time, I and my friends seem to experience something negative about the staff or the service. If it isn't an arrogant bartender, then its an inattentive server. If you miss the bad attitude coming, you'll get the wrong order going. And if you're lucky enough to have an issue-free evening, you can always get your fill of negativity by having your neighbor at the bar tell you about his/her crappy experience.

And yet I keep going back when I should know better. Stupid.