Sunday afternoon on Maine’s Higgins Beach, while I nursed both a hangover and my second Heady Topper of the day, a friend said, “I’m not exactly sure because I’ve never had one, but this might have been the perfect weekend.”
It was, friends. It was.
And in order to commemorate our time in Portland, ME, I asked my friends Jon, Jessica, Roger, Heather, Lindsay, Erica, and Brett to each write a little piece about their experience. 8 people. 8 posts. 1 amazing weekend. Enjoy.
When you’ve been immersed in the beer community, beer “scene,” or whatever you want to call it for a long time, I think you begin to expect certain things from the beer & what the beer will bring in tow. That’s exactly what I was thinking before departing for Portland for the weekend of The Festival: this is going to be a weekend full of this-smells-like-wildflowers-but-I-can-still-sense-the-lacto comments, understanding that a vintage lambic from 3 Fontenein is not really the equivalent of a blended Cantillon gueze from 1997, and only getting excited for the rare beers that were fermented with the sweat of the robes of the ancestors of the trappists monks. Oh, and really epic hangovers. Though the beer and the hangovers showed their faces that weekend, what I enjoyed most about Portland was that the overabundance of beer “snobbery” disappeared. Sure, it was there, but I didn’t see a hint of it.
There’s nothing wrong with being insanely obsessed with beer. I, myself, adore beer. I would probably marry beer if it were legal. There’s nothing wrong with seeking the rarest beer. There’s nothing wrong with gushing over Cantillon until you’re blue in the face (I mean, have you had it? Seriously, there’s nothing better). I’ve read many articles about this, some of them written by our own beloved Heather, and I love the common theme that it’s not the beer itself: it’s the experience of where you had that beer. Sure, I think we can all agree that there’s an obvious and important distinction between good beer and bad beer, because, well, brewing is a craft that requires patience, skill, and vision. However, I can tell you that I enjoyed my shower Yuengling after my first half marathon more than I enjoyed the samples of the incredible beer at The Festival & that I enjoyed sharing a Weistephaner Hefeweizen with my Mom in celebration of her quitting smoking more than I enjoyed my first Westvleteren XII.
I think my point here is, it’s the people that matter. It was my friends that made the weekend of The Festival for me. I was so deeply looking forward to trying all of the beer (and I loved doing it – there were some amazing beers at the fest!), but most of all I was really looking forward to getting away from Boston and spending time with the people who have become such positive influences on my life. The beer was a bonus. What I loved most about The Festival is that it brought us all together, helped us laugh about the fact that volunteers were a bit overexerted, and it showed that a group of beer nerds and beer lovers can own the beer experience with flair and then stumble down the street to Bubba’s Sulky Lounge to pound some PBR and light the light-up disco dance floor on fire with a bunch of bachelorettes. So what if we didn’t get to try all of the beers? So what if we didn’t gouge our wallets on the bottle list at Novare Res? So what if we didn’t talk about all of the different beers every second of the weekend? So what if we did! We devoured potato donuts – that were way better than just “being made with potato flour” – we commiserated over our hangovers while eating delicious breakfast bagels from a truck and drinking some Rising Tide, and we helped make the remake of Hitchcock’s Birds outside of a taxidermy toting seafood restaurant goliath called “The Clam Bake.”
The best part of The Festival? We could have all gone to all three sessions to ensure we tried all of the beers or we could have done the hodgepodge of activities that we ended up doing. Either way we would have had a ball. Sure, The Festival was about the beer, and the beer was damn good. What they didn’t tell you, though, was that The Festival was also about highlighting the connections that bring us all together.Thanks for the post, Lindsay!