I go to several beer events throughout the year, mainly beer festivals or other similar events. But for the last several years, there has only been one can’t-miss event for me: Beer Advocate’s Extreme Beer Fest, usually held in Boston in February.
I go to several beer events throughout the year, mainly beer festivals or other similar events.
But for the last several years, there has only been one can’t-miss event for me: Beer Advocate’s Extreme Beer Fest, usually held in Boston in February.
It is, by far, my favorite Massachusetts beer festival. The best brewers in the United States, all known for brewing great and creative beers, seem to outdo themselves in trying to come up with something “extreme” enough to fit in.
You are just as likely to run into a 15-percent alcohol by volume imperial stout brewed with coffee, chocolate, vanilla and other ingredients as you are to run into a relatively low-alcohol beer brewed with jelly beans.
So, when tickets for this year’s Extreme Beer Fest went on sale, you would have thought I would have been the first in line (or online, in this case) to get tickets. But, no, I was distracted by work, and I did not hear about the tickets going on sale until the next day. And, of course, the tickets were sold out.
This threw me into a minor panic. What could I do? I guess I could have requested a media pass, and I probably would have gotten one. However, if I get a media pass, it turns the event from a night of fun with friends to a night of work. Plus, I would have to go alone, which is not the most fun thing to do.
So, I took to social media. I’m on Twitter (you really should follow me @realbeernut) and began posting every day, asking if anyone had extra tickets. I also posted the same question on Facebook because I have a lot of beer-related people who are my online pals.
Finally, after a few weeks, someone responded to what became groveling on Twitter. He had a trip planned that he forgot about when he bought tickets, and he said I could have them for the $59 each they cost.
Great, I thought. But, then I realized something. My credit card had expired. I had to quickly contact my friend before the seller sold them to others, because there were other people who were also searching for the tickets. Luckily, my friend agreed to pay the money. Score.
Now, planning for the Extreme Beer Fest is not a last-minute thing. There are a lot of beers and breweries that are going to be there. You shouldn’t just show up without at least doing some pre-scouting. It would be too easy to miss too many good beers.
I went to beeradvocate.com and studied the list. It was impressive, and there were several breweries I wanted to make sure to hit. I usually look for breweries that typically don’t distribute its beers to Massachusetts because I don’t often get a chance to drink beers from those breweries.
But you can’t forget about breweries that you often get beer from. Even though I can get beer from Dogfish Head whenever I want, for example, many breweries bring special beers just for this event, so you have to pay attention.
The night before a beer festival is also key to planning. I know I’ll be drinking many different beers the following night (all 2-ounce samples). The festival is also usually extremely hot, so the combination of drinking and sweating can lead to dehydration. So, the night before, I usually drink nothing but water. And except for a small cup of coffee that morning, I drink nothing but water before the festival.
It is also key to get some food into your belly before the festival. I eat a larger-than-usual breakfast, and then a late lunch, early dinner. A lot of times, I go to a nearby pizza place to get food, but this year, I went to the for Asian food to get noodles, chicken and shrimp into my stomach, giving myself a good base.
Then, you have to plan for the weather. Our ride dropped us off an hour and a half before the festival, so we had to stand outside that whole time. Luckily, it was cold but not freezing, and I dressed in layers before finally getting in.
Was the festival worth all of this? Most definitely. I got to try some fantastic beers from a couple of breweries I’d never had before (Right Brain Brewery in Michigan and The Funky Buddha Lounge and Brewery from Florida), and I tried some beers I’d probably only try once, like a cucumber saison from the Cigar City Brewing Company in Florida.
It was a great festival, a great time, and I’d go through it all again. Of course, next year, I will be online three hours before the tickets are on sale and I’ll keep hitting refresh until I have them.
Norman Miller is a Daily News staff writer. For questions, comments, suggestions or recommendations, email nmiller@wickedlocal. Check out The Beer Nut blog at http://blogs.wickedlocal.com/beernut/ .