Friday, September 23, 2016

Monster Beers at Snallygaster

Early on Saturday morning I arrived, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, at Emily's front door, and then we walked 3 miles down to the Navy yards where we were working at the Snallygaster Beer Festival once again. But this year although it was starting off cloudy, the sun was trying its hardest to wiggle through the clouds and there was definitely not a hint of rain, which had put the proverbial damper on our volunteer efforts last year. So we were off to a great start.
It was barely 9:30, the huge 'beer camp' was quiet with a few tents up and tables unfolded waiting to be loaded with beer kegs and casks, yet by the entrance it was a hive of activity with volunteers busy unpacking the sought after glasses and stuffing them with the Snallygaster vouchers. These glasses would be eagerly grabbed only by those that had prepurchased tickets, but they weren't available to those that turned up at the gate.Unfortunately even some of the late entries that had got their tickets on line didn't receive a glass as when a pallet of the glasses were being moved, the whole lot had been dropped and smashed. But compensation was more than adequate, those lucky peeps got a voucher of tickets worth $10 to ease their loss.
Snallygaster beer tickets, an alcoholic's dream come true held in my hand...
...and the stamps that would be thumped upon those hands that already had tickets. No stamp, no glass. The Gargoyles would be allowed in first at 11:30, and already there was a line of ardent, enthusiastic beer swiggers waiting to be let loose into this hub of hop wonder.
Once all the glasses were charged with their brewski bucks, we had a quiet time until the gates would be opened, so we went on a whirlwind tour of the tables to see what would be where and which would be worth a sup when we were released from duty.
It didn't take long to get the lay of the land, so we returned to base and armed ourselves with our stamps, ready for the charge once the barricades were thrown down. These ale aficionados often came prepared, with spreadsheets, schedules and battle plans and although smiling happily as the time neared to be let loose they were still evidently chomping at the bit. Once through the gate, with glass in hand, they would march forcefully towards their desired destination, knowing exactly where the suds of their choice would be located. There were a few rare ales on site, and these would likely be the first draw.
It was great fun walking into the crowd that I had to admit, were waiting very patiently. In high spirits and lighting up the dull day with dazzling smiles, this is why I love working beer festivals. There's always an air of excitement and anticipation. Everybody is happy, I've yet to see a sourpuss attend. Beer brings bliss! Yay!
Some nattily attired folks were present along with some of the usual awesome t-shirt slogans, but I was unable to catch these on my phone camera as we were so busy once the gates opened. With over 10,000 attendees this year which broke down to over 8,000 presales and a little over 2,000 day of admission, we gate staff were slammed. But we got through the lines speedily and cheerfully.
We did manage to grab a half hour as our lunch break but had to give up any idea of food because sampling a couple of beers just had to be accomplished and the lines were long.
I particularly liked the above Pink flamingo from Union Craft Brewing Company, a sour that lit up my palette, a perfect lunch beer. Another beer I loved a little later was Diamonds, Fur Coat, Champagne from Right Proper Brewing Company, which I'd had at Jason's Birthday event, and it still ranked high with me today.
We rushed back to the gate so others could run for their lunch and ended up being very busy until well after 2pm when only a few stragglers were trailing in. We were released from duty with only an hour or so before the pumps were shut down so without further ado we set off at a brisk pace following Emily who had a printed list of 'must be supped' beers.
We sipped and slurped our way along the booths, even managing to grab a bite to eat, but even the food queues were long at this time of day. Some of the beer lines looked like the poor folk at the ends would never see a drop before the place shut down so we stuck with the shorter lines.
We made our way back to the gate later to see if any help was needed and found that Rob had appeared.
He had shown up late so was helping with breaking down, and seemed to be doing so well, we could see we weren't needed. Promising to catch up with him later we decided it was time to head out.
Time to find a taxi. We'd been on our feet for 10 hours so walking back to Emily's house wasn't an option, but we did find a splendid taxi driver who let us all pile in his car. And so we continued on our quest to sample even more wonderfully hoppy delights. I actually don't remember a great deal about it but it seemed that when I checked my phone photos the following evening I had attempted to take a photo of every bottle that was cracked open.
 And as I looked through them it was also obvious that my vision and therefore my photos were getting blurry as the evening had worn on. Oh well, it's seldom that I do this and it was a splendid day and evening with equally splendid friends. Cheers!

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