Wednesday, October 16, 2013

GABF: Heaven in a bottle

I am going to tell you about my weekend, because frankly, I probably had a better weekend than you. Why? Because my weekend involved one of the greatest spectacles this great country of ours puts on that does not involve any of the Kardashians: The Great American Beer Festival.

What is the Great American Beer Festival? It is like Disneyland for drunk people. Some of the numbers: 580 breweries serving 2,700 different kinds of beers over 3 days to 49,000 people who by the end of the day will have a higher BAC than IQ. They give you a small little glass and you can have unlimited samples of beer for the entire four hour session.

It is the journey that every good beer-loving 'Merican like me must one day take. You go into the Great American Beer Fest a boy and you come out four hours later a severely inebriated man. It is the Super Bowl to my quarterback, the Mecca to my Hajji, the Mount Doom to my Frodo, the ice cream truck to my Arthur Jones


Now, the first step towards the GABF actually occurs months before the actual festival. As the event has grown more popular, getting tickets to the festival is like trying to get fresh lobster in Kansas. Tickets this year sold out in about 20 minutes, which means in order to get the tickets, I completely ignored my professional obligations for about an hour refreshing my computer and angrily clicking on a stupid little button.

But thanks to my perseverance and all the good beer karma I've built up over the years, I was able to score three tickets, which I immediately sold for heroin.

I'm kidding obviously. I wouldn't have given you the ticket for a solid gold statue shaped like Kate Upton. I may never get to experience something like this again, so I took copious notes. Of course, I have no idea where they are. I probably ate them. The only thing I had was a drawing on the back of my ticket that appears to be a pretzel. But I do remember all most some the existence of the festival, so I will try to recount it as best I can.

**Disclaimer: Author may take some liberty with the facts of this story as they may or may have not occurred in order to fill in parts of the trip that he may or may not remember. Any resemblance of people in this story to persons you may know is probably likely since all people act pretty much the same when you get that much alcohol in them. WARNING: This contains language and nudity. And cheese on toothpicks, if that sort of thing bothers you.**

So the first thing you notice when you arrive at the festival is just how big this thing is. There are people every where in this huge building, and try as you might, the bottom line is you will not drink even half the beers at this festival before dying. So having a plan is key, or you will end up drunkenly wandering the halls forever, doomed to a Courtney Love-like existence.

So me and my two companions, Alex and Andrew, came up with what we thought at the time was a pretty fool-proof and scientific plan:

Q: So where do we meet if we get separate?
A: “By the beer.”

Q: Which beers should we drink?
A: “The ones we can gt our hands on the quickest.”

Q: Where should we start?
A: “Right here looks good.”

We also established several ground rules:
  1. Leave no man behind
  2. Actually the hell with that, this isn't the Marines, this is drinking. You fall behind, you get left behind.
  3. No cutsies in either the beer line, bathroom line, or the cheese steak line.
  4. Hold onto your sample glass. There is a tradition at the GABF of yelling whenever someone drops there glass. The last thing we want in a room full of drunk people is to have everyone looking at us.
  5. First person to drink to “YOLO” will be stabbed.
And so we started our journey of beer. The magical, magical beer. There were a few that weren't great, but 99% of the beers there were absolutely magical. The one the three of us all remember was an imperial pumpkin porter from a Texas brewery that tasted like pumpkin pie in a glass.

Among the other more interesting beers we tried were (and I am not making any of these up): Sweet potato ale, an oyster stout called Pearl Necklace, a stout called Sexual Chocolate and a peanut butter and jelly sandwich beer called No Crust. Did we make inappropriate jokes out of all of those and sing “peanut butter jelly time” as we drank all those? Why yes, yes we did.

But you need more than beer, so we weren't too shocked when we realized that our routes were primarily determined by Alex, who at the slightest hint of free food would dash off in that direction with the type of speed and dedication to purpose normally reserved for Navy SEAL training. Alex spent most of his day drunkenly telling girls how much he loved putting sausage in his mouth.

But there wasn't just sausage. We had gooey cream-stuffed churros and cookie dough cupcakes, which are even more magical than they sound.

There is a lot or random stuff at the GABF. There was a place you could get your hair cut, a lady giving massages, the world's longest line to take a piss (also known as the PBR bottling facility) and even a place that I think was performing weddings.

But none of it, can top the silent disco. If you've never heard of a silent disco, they fence off an area and give dancers headphones that all play the same music. This means that a bunch of white people who have just spent the past two hours drinking large quantities of alcohol are dancing to music nobody else but them can hear. This alone is worth the price of admission:


So to recap, the festival was a blast. In fact, the only drawback to GABF: The morning after GABF. Especially for Alex and Andrew, who had to work and probably looked something like this:



But the day after GABF was mainly sad because it meant we were no longer in the GABF. But we have vowed to return some day, and we will use the wealth or knowledge and experience that we gained from this years festival to truly master the art of being wandering drunks next year. You should come with us. We'll introduce you to our friend, the overlord of the GABF, Rasputin.


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