Sunday, May 20, 2007

Any flavor will do as long as there isn't any.

He looked like an embittered old coot before he came close enough to the table to greet. It would be nice to think that when I’m that age, people might think of me as somewhat lovable.

It was Saturday night at the Ohio River Valley Folk Festival in Madison, Indiana, where organizers have taken the sensible view that a gathering dedicated to the broad-based ethos of folk music should also reflect grassroots choices in food and drink.

Back to the old man …

“Can we get you a beer?”

“Don’t you have any Budweiser?”

“No, we sure don’t, but we have locally … “

He made a face like an animal caught in a steel trap and emitted an angry moan that might have come from someone who just lost a loved one.

“I wish they’d a-told me that before I came in,” he grumbled before offering a handful tickets and asking for “two of something.”

His eyes darted left and right as I poured two highly hopped Electors in the hope that they might rearrange his toupee.

“There any normal beer anywhere here?”

“I can assure you that they’re all quite normal.”

It should be said that we’ve experienced few such complaints during two years manning the folk fest taps alongside our friends from Upland Brewing Company in Bloomington, whose choice of flagship ale (Belgian-style wheat) is sufficiently mild to appease most of the confused customers. The majority of people we’ve met are at the very least willing to discuss choices in a reasonable manner, and some probably go away having learned something – anathema to the masses, but gratifying to me.

But there’s nothing that matches explaining to an oblivious liteweight the notion of local Southern Indiana breweries making beer right here in our own state, and then being asked, “but don’t you have anything American?”

In truth, I enjoy watching them squirm, although the funniest of all are the gargantuan, tattooed, macho, leather-encased motorcycle riders who are the bar-none toughest guys around – but can’t manage to choke down a beer that tastes any stronger than the Silver Bullet and its color-coded coldness gauge.

I’ll have more on the festival tomorrow. Today, I just had to get it off my chest.

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