Now that I’ve finally got the last bit of mud off of my caked shoes, I’m finally able to sit down and pen my thoughts about this year’s festival. Long story short, I had a lot of fun. Yes, it was crowded in the tents because people couldn’t mingle in the mud, but you could still easily get a beer after you shoved your way past the people just standing in front of the servers (something I was even guilty of at times.) I’ve read some other thoughts at BeerAdvocate and even in the comments in this forum and everyone has some very good suggestions. Now here’s a couple of my thoughts:
Grass vs As(phalt)
My biggest complaint, which seems to be the majority opinion, was the complete destruction and mess of the festival field. It made getting around terrible, it made everything and everyone messy and it crowded the tents as people had no place else to go. A few people have suggested that for the sake of festivals to come maybe it should be moved to a parking lot. The argument for the asphalt is that no mess, no fuss and people less likely to trip and fall. The argument against the lot is that it would change the feel of the festival and to a certain extent I agree. I personally enjoy the natural aspect of the festival, but I don’t enjoy being crowded and messy. A better option may be to move the festival to Mid-May rather than early May to avoid some of the late spring rain.
Three Tents Are Better Than Two
I thought the addition of the third beer tent was a welcome addition to the festival as it allowed more beers to be showcased in a large environment. I found that the beers were pretty well spread out and provided a bit more elbow room. I will say I was thrown for a bit when I went into the Ale tent and didn’t see some of the Belgian Style beers, but saw Schlafly’s Imperial Stout and Barleywine in the Ale tent. But I guess “Specialty Beer” is in the eye of the beholder.
From what I’ve been told the homebrewers were supposed to be featured in the third tent as well, but unfortunately got relegated to B-Team status due to the weather. Hopefully next year the weather will let up and people will find out just how amazing some of the homebrewers around this area are.
More Cask Beers!
The best beer of the entire festival was the cask Rye Pale Ale. So floral and wonderful, I had two or three glasses of it. I know it’s a complete pain to bring these firkins out to the festival, but I think it would be nice to showcase more Real Ale at the festival next year. It would be a nice addition to the “Specialty Beer” tent.
New Festival Beer
It’s time for a new beer. I don’t have the taste memory to remember last year’s Dark Lager so it personally doesn’t make much sense to me to see the same beer year after year. It’s time to have the breweries try something different and then see just how different the take on the beer is.
This festival, in my mind, is first and foremost about showing St. Louis’ brewing talent, but one of the first things I heard walking into the festival was “I’m going to get your sister loaded too!” Don’t get me wrong, I’m not some beer drinking prude that doesn’t believe beer should get you drunk. I was feeling just fine after the festival, but that wasn’t why I walked into the festival. I’d like to think there are more people interested in learning about beer and the differences in styles. Maybe included in the Friday Afternoon session (which sounded a bit light) should be a “tour guide” who walks people around talking about beer and sampling them.
Overall it’s a great event and I think it’s only going to get better as adjustments are made after years of tweaking. I look forward to seeing how different it is in the years to come.