This was my first time attending the Boise Beer Festival, and frankly I wasn’t prepared for the crush of people in the beer tents and the overall zaniness of the event. Loosely controlled chaos was my first impression, but as you get into the festival, you understand that there is a rhythm that keeps things moving and positive. This is a huge event. I think there were over 30,000 people there, and about 100 tap handles. You can do the math, there were a lot of people waiting in the beer tents for pours.
Let me start with some background. This is the 4th annual Boise Beer Fest and it just keeps getting bigger every year. This year Rick is doing something different. He is taking the festival on the road with the Barley Brother’s Travelling Beer Show. He is organizing festivals in Spokane, and I think Phoenix later in the year. I went to the festival with my Son Brian. Brian is only 19, so he couldn’t drink, but he could drive if Dad over indulged. This didn’t happen.
I guess I didn’t know what exactly to expect, so I will just give you a few of my impressions.
1) It was HOT, damn hot. about 95 degrees out. Everyone was sweaty and there was no way to keep that from happening. Perhaps some well placed misting fans would have been appreciated.
1a) When it is hot, I tend to drink more water and less alcohol. So they gave out 5 oz sample cups, and I had about 8-10 of those over a 3 hour period, and drank lots of bottled water! Water stands in the festival grounds would have been appreciated.
2) It was crowded. Out in the pathways between tents and other attractions, it wasn’t too bad, but in the beer tents it was shoulder to shoulder and body to body. I suppose there is really no way to keep this from happening, but it definitely limited my consumption, because to get the brew you had to suffer for it.
3) It was well laid out. They had all the beer tents on one side of the festival grounds when you walked in, and then other attractions and booths in other places. This to my chagrin included several bouncy houses and castles for kids…small kids, more on this later.
4) I was definitely not in the “target Demo” for the festival. Is a matter of fact I think I was at least 10 years over the average age of festival goers. The vast majority on the night I went were in their 20s. I’m in my 40s…late 40s (i’ll be 47 in September). So It wasn’t that I was uncomfortable, but I definitely had a harder time “fitting in”, and no Jim it has nothing to do with my size!
5) Anyone pushing a stroller should not be allowed in the festival. I don’t know if you could tell, but this little guy was just left there while mommy went to get a pour. That is reprehensible behavior. One easy way to make sure this doesn’t happen is simply make an age limit of 18 or 16 so Mom’s and Dad’s can bring their offspring as designated drivers if need be.
6) No Bouncy Houses! Worse than the babies left to fend for themselves were the parents I saw with dreadfully bored 5-10 year olds in tow. Obviously many of these “parents” shouldn’t have been allowed to reproduce. They were treating the kids badly and dragging them around from beer tent to beer tent. It was difficult for me to tell who was behaving worse the parents or the kids. For my money they shouldn’t be allowed in the festival, for their own sanity. This really isn’t a family event. Not that it wasn’t “family friendly” but I think the kids would rather they weren’t allowed to see daddy get snockered and throw them in a bouncy house.
7) the beer was awesome, but it was sporadic. What I mean by this is that there was like I said before about 100 tap handles, but there were over 280 beers, so taps changed as kegs blew. This was really only a problem because I saw that Double Mountain was going to be there, and I was really looking forward to trying their beer. However during the hours I was there nothing from Double Mountain was being tapped. I suppose if all I did was troll back and forth at the taps all day on Saturday and Sunday I would have found it, but I was only there for about 4 hours, and during that time they were not represented. Other than that the beer was great. I had a few standouts. From O’dells I had their Smoked and Oaked Porter which was a smokey bacony treat. I had some Dubhe from Uinta Brewing which is their Imperial Black IPA, which I just adore. I had a saison that was outstanding from Boulevard Brewing. And I had to try the Leinenkugles Summer Shandy. Yes, one of Jim’s favorite Lawnmower beers. Half beer, half lemonade and all refreshing. I had never had it, and ice cold from the taps at a day that was about 95+ degrees, it was a very welcome change of pace. I actually liked it quite a bit, good call Jim.
All in all it was a great festival, and my son and I enjoyed ourselves quite a bit. We had smoked turkey legs for dinner and roasted corn from the vendors, and felt like vikings that had just pillaged and plundered. That was fun. It is definitely worth going, and I think it would be better if I had someone to go with that could actually drink with me. Perhaps next year I’ll do a meet-up with a friend or two, or maybe get my deadbeat brother and his family out here.