640 Reasons to Put Down that Bud Light

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American Craft Beer Fest 2010

Stop drinking that mass-marketed, imported beer (especially if you’re at work right now); next time, make it a Duck-Rabbit Hoppy Bunny American Black Ale instead.

This weekend, 140 brewers will assemble at the Seaport World Trade Center to help broaden your beer horizons at the sixth annual American Craft Beer Fest, pouring out samples of Rumple Drumkin, Raging Bitch, and Crunkle Sam, just to name a few of the 640 brews on tap.

Four years ago I had the pleasure of attending the second annual festival; I was bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, recently of-age, and thinking that “craft beer” was knocking back a Miller Lite while constructing a popsicle-stick birdhouse at your kitchen table (sadly, there is no festival dedicated to this … yet). Back then, there were merely 75 different breweries from around the country in attendance – and still the whole scene was almost too much to take in, simply breath-taking . . . one might even say intoxicating. With my two-ounce sampling thimble (okay, it’s slightly larger) I tasted a variety of beers, from now-favorites like Wachusett Blueberry and Allagash White to some brews I would never venture to try again (Hell or High Watermelon sticks out as a particularly hellish concoction; strangely enough, its brewer doesn’t seem to be on the list of this year’s attendees).

This Friday, I’m excited to make my triumphant return to the ACBF as I edge closer to becoming a beer connoisseur. Here’s a few lessons I learned last time that I’ll be keeping in mind:

  • Slow and steady wins the race, but then again, you only have three hours. Sure, each sample is only two ounces, but going too quickly will mean you are out of commission before you reach the back of the convention hall. On the other hand, your time is limited; take a look at the map and come up with a game plan. My strategy is to hit up all the breweries with the most ridiculous names first (looking at you, Tasty Weasel Taproom).
  • Eat before you go. You don’t want to be that guy who curls up behind the Otter Creek booth for a nap a half-hour into the event. Sampling on a full stomach will mean greater staying power. Yeah, there’s a concession stand, but a $6 hot dog does not a meal make. Another option: last time, I saw a group of beer enthusiasts wearing edible pretzel necklaces (finally, the world of crafts meets the world of beer).
  • Bring cash. Sure, you buy your ticket ahead of time ($50 … a bit steep), and most of the brewers will be giving out free swag, but you may want some cash-on-hand to get yourself a nice Goose Island t-shirt or Sierra Nevada skinny jeans. Even if there is an ATM somewhere inside, there will also be 4,999 other people there; you don’t want to get behind 300 of them to make a withdrawal.
  • Take public transportation. I don’t care how many pretzel necklaces you consume over three hours, you will not be fit to drive after this event, so do yourself a favor and take the Silver Line. While you are riding it in, question its existence. While you are riding it out, try to maintain your balance.

If you can still nab a ticket for Friday’s session, I highly recommend doing so. If (when) it sells out, I think pre-sales for the seventh annual American Craft Beer Fest should start in about ten months or so, so there’s that.

Remember, sample responsibly!