Wandering around a local beer festival on the weekend, I was reminded why I don’t really go to local beer festivals anymore.
Those that follow my twitter or know me, will probably guess which festival. But I think that’s beside the point. It’s one of probably a hundred like it around Australia, all doing their part to give breweries an avenue to present their beers.
The festival itself wasn’t the boring part. They had bluegrass music, which I like, and a nice big park, seating, and food. They did their part.
The brewers, for the most part, did not.
This might sound cynical; but they were boring and had far too many infected or faulty beers. I tried only a handful of new ones and ended up pouring out more than one after just a sip.
They came from brands that I think of as almost “heritage” brands. Brands from a time just before this recent craft explosion, where their only real point of difference was they made local ales. Malty, biscuity and low on hop character. Brands slightly out of the current mainstream of craft culture and brands that I’m always excited to seek out and try – mostly because they are far from being in fashion which is something that appeals to me.
However they won’t come back in fashion unless they are being made well – which was unfortunately far from the case this weekend.
Not that there weren’t some great brewers and breweries there. Because there were. But again… they were being boring as well (I should exclude Two Birds because they had tattoos and cupcakes and their Taco beer, and Cavalier because they had a Berliner Weisse and a selection of syrups… oh and Monster Mash because the IIPA was full of hop particles and he was embarrassed about serving it, which was fun).
I know not every local festival can have super unique beers, nor do they need it. For the majority of attendees it was all new and interesting but I fear we aren’t far from the point where your average drinker starts getting bored with that too. And while it doesn’t have to be about super unique “one off” beers, it does need to be about something.
Anything that is not “here is our table and our beer”.
Stick something in a cask, put it in a specially made glass, offer two variations of the same recipe, or sprinkle some fricken pop rocks onto the head for all I care. Just give us an experience that we will remember.
I have to mention Garage Project here. Recently they have turned up to a festival with a specially made hot poker that they use to “flash caramelise” their porter on serving. In the past they’ve come along with a big stack of “Day of the Dead” masks and handed them out leaving the festival full of people advertising their brand, and they’ve even used a little spritz-bottle of essential oils to spray over each glass of their festive ale on pouring.
Gimmicky as all hell? Yes.
Making them one of the most talked about and memorable breweries in the southern hemisphere? Of course it is.
And even if you aren’t into gimmicks and flashy tricks, at the very least, taste your beer before you stand behind a trestle table and present it to the public.
And maybe, MAYBE, if it tastes like baby vomit, you probably shouldn’t serve it.