Wednesday, June 17, 2015

How awesome was the International Great Beer Expo?

Okay, so now that the Philly Beer Week hangover has subsided, let's talk about how great the International Great Beer Expo was.

First of all, I think Starfish Junction has proven they know how to throw one hell of an event. They started out by inviting us and other members of the press to a Chat 'n' Chew at 11am the day of the event. We were greeted by several food trucks (more on that later) as well as some reps from Victory Brewing, allowing us a chance to sample their new ice cream as well as get the day started with some Summer Love and Kirsch Goose. We also chatted with a rep from Sir Charles Hard Cider and had a chance to try some of their ciders. Sue was a huge fan, so they must be good ciders.

So, as I was saying, we were able to chow down early because of the generous samples provided to us by the food trucks, which was nice because when you're planning on drinking all day, you really should start with putting something delicious in your gut. I won't bore you with a food review, instead I'm going to tell you about my new favorite food truck. The Wandering Chef , who were so kind and made the most delicious god-damned dumplings I've had in some time. As the food was being set up, I saw tacos, and I'm damned sucker for a good taco, upon inspection it appeared that the taco was one of the poultry variety, which was heartbreaking. Side note from Sue: While I eat every meat in the world, I cannot eat chicken without a horrible reaction, I throw-up, because my grandmother made me go to Jesus camp where I was poisoned by chicken. Salmonella is no joke, I was very very ill and to this day eating chicken makes me vomit. Anyway, I asked Tara if they were for sure chicken and she confirmed my suspicion. Lucky for me the owner was mere feet away and began to ask if I would like them to make me a vegetarian one, did I eat pork, FUCK YES I EAT PORK, do I eat steak, I'LL
EAT THE FUCK OUT OF SOME STEAK, so they made us a steak taco with dumplings. It was perfect and I loved them for the rest of the day. Keep an eye out for them at festivals, even if the line gets long these dumplings are worth it! They love their craft and that's exceptional!

It was definitely a cool experience to walk around the festival grounds and take a peek at everything before everyone arrived, and it was agony waiting for the taps to open at 12:30 for the VIP hour. There is one thing that I want to make clear about this and just about all beer festivals: VIP HOUR IS WORTH IT. I know, I know. In a lot of cases, the VIP tickets always cost almost twice as much as general admission, and it's only an extra hour. But that is a long hour because you're not standing in any lines! I'm not even kidding - we tried almost every beer there in that hour, plus all of the "special beers" that were only available for the VIP hour. Now, of course our admission was graciously furnished to us by Starfish Junction, but I swear to you if I wasn't This Drunk Bitch and just some ol' regular bitch, I'd happily shell out the $75 for that.

This is not to say there's anything wrong with the General Admission portion of the event. There
were multiple tents to help people spread out as much as possible, as well as tables in the middle to have a seat when folks needed a break. But there were definitely long lines, especially in the beginning and especially if you wanted to try some of the more popular beers right away. I personally liked the idea of trying most of the beers and then taking my time waiting in the lines to go back for seconds or thirds (or fourths). I will report that there were definitely enough port o potties available, as they were mostly clean and the longest I had to wait was 5 minutes. They even had a hand washing station, which is much appreciated.

Speaking of beer, man did we try some good ones. The winner according to This Drunk Bitch as well as the all day line was Boaks Wooden Beanie, an Abbey Brown Ale with Madagascar vanilla beans and finished in Jack Daniels barrels. I'm really digging this new trend of barrel-finished beers, and this was spot on: Not too sweet, medium-bodied, 7% ABV and, sadly, rare as fuck. If you see this in the bar,
fucking order it. (Even the 'non-beer drinking' me, Sue, loved this beer and had several samples.)

What I loved most about this event was the vast selection. I definitely would call myself a beer aficionado, and there were several beers available that I hadn't sampled before. Every year these events from Starfish Junction get better, and that's because they listen to folks like us and other valued eventgoers. Let this be a great lesson to everyone else who ever wants to throw an event - listen to the fucking feedback! It really makes all the difference.

Remember, boys and girls, buy the VIP tickets, because they're fucking worth it. You'll thank me next time you go to a festival like this.

Stay drunk, bitches!

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