Sunday, June 24, 2007

Brew Ha Ha 2007 was unexpectedly short for NABC.

In 2006, NABC’s Jesse Williams (pictured yesterday, above) loaded three 1/6 barrel (5.16 gallons) kegs and took them to the annual Brew-Ha-Ha beer festival in Indianapolis. It is billed as Indy’s oldest such fete, benefits the Phoenix Theater, and has been a fun gig over the years.

Last year, Jesse poured samples for almost three and a half hours last year (the fest runs for four hours), ran out of beer during the last hour, packed up the equipment and returned to New Albany.

Yesterday both Jared Williamson (above) and the author accompanied Jesse northward with the exact same quantity of NABC beer, which this year was Elsa Von Horizon, Hoptimus and Thunderfoot, which clock in at elevated abv’s of 8, 9 and 11, respectively.

By means of explanation, note that during summer fests, we tend to favor bringing “extreme” styles. This isn’t done to encourage drunken debauchery, but because other brewers tend to bring lighter beers appropriate for hot weather, and we favor expanded choice in this and all other similar situations. We also like to stand out from the crowd.

To reiterate, in 2006 our 15.5 gallons of beer lasted three and a half hours.

Yesterday, we were entirely depleted at 4:00 p.m., or just one hour after the gates “officially” opened. In truth, people were lining up at our tent at 2:30 p.m., so the tally should be roughly one and a half hours.

The small street that is devoted to Brew-Ha-Ha was solidly choked with humanity by the time our last keg popped, so we tore down and drove further north to enjoy relaxed pints and snacks, first at the Broad Ripple Brewing Company and then at Brugs Brasserie. The NABC brew crew was on the road for New Albany by the time Brew-Ha-Ha “officially” ended at 7:00 p.m.

Obviously, we didn’t bring enough beer. Was it because Jesse’s experience in 2006 was atypical, or because this year’s crowd was far larger? Our designated serving area was in a fine location, adjacent to the Massachusetts Avenue entrance, and the first beer station spotted by those entering from that side of the street. This might explain the early crush, which only became knottier as the middle of the fest path became blocked by lines waiting for beer elsewhere.

These thoughts are to be taken as observations, not criticisms, although I couldn’t help remembering NABC's experience at the inaugural Brew at the Zoo in Louisville a few years ago. In the end, far more tickets were sold than had been incorporated in the original plan, with the result that almost all food and beer was gone with two hours remaining in the event. Did yesterday’s cool temperatures attract an unplanned extra crowd?

One thing's a given: We’ll be back next year, ... and with extra beer.

For more photos, see Indiana Beer’s coverage.

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