Big Red Pour Festival Report

I’m still trying to figure out Draft magazine’s Big Red Pour. Was it a beer festival? A rock concert? A silent auction? A turkey slaughterhouse? If you too had stood in the landscape-devouring shadow of Mount Turkeyleg, you’d guess the latter. It was awe inspiring. At one point, its saucy peak nearly sundered the canopy of the BBQ bus. I think I even saw a Sherpa.

But the beer selection was good. An encouraging number of local breweries such as Nimbus and Four Peaks showed up, and several other brewers brought their most exotic beers. I particularly enjoyed New Belgium’s La Folie (which I also recommended in my last beer fest article) and Redstone Meadery’s Black Raspberry Nectar. Mead isn’t beer — it’s more like white wine fermented from honey instead of grapes — but it was still damn tasty. Sweet, fruity, and lightly carbonated, it was one of the best surprises of the day. Another great surprise? Free Sam Adams key chain bottle openers. Sturdy ones, the kind that don’t destroy bottlecaps.

A less favorable surprise occurred when the Draft staff (or whoever was running the event) forced the Cardinals cheerleaders to serve the beer. I mean, talk about desperate. Did they think we men couldn’t be enticed by beer alone? Well, if their goal was to make the ground dangerously slippery with drool, they succeeded. But this was a beer festival, a place of camaraderie and good sportsmanship — not an NFL game. To be fair, a few of the girls seemed to have done some research, but the usual response to a question about the type of beer being served was, “Oh, it’s a Lagunitas.” OK, she knows the brewery. “But what style is it?” Blank stare. “LA-GU-NI-TAS.” Talking slower and louder does not convince me you know what you’re talking about.

But it wasn’t really their fault; beer isn’t their job. It is the job, however, of the people running such events to suppress their impulses to rip me off: I didn’t appreciate the ticket price bait and switch, Draft. Check out this add from their website:

Would you infer, as I did, that “$10 General Admission” means that 10 dollar bills (or a 10 dollar bill, or two fivers) can be exchanged for one general admission ticket? I thought so too. When I got there, however, tickets inexplicably jumped to $16. And that’s not counting the “passports,” which started at $12 and were available elsewhere, after you pay for admission. What does the passport do? It lets you actually drink the beer. In the end, it still cost me a bit less than my last few beer fests (I went with the cheapest passport), but still, that’s not cool, Draft. Not cool.

I experienced a few other strange, uncomfortable moments: When the sun went down, for instance, halogen lamps were lit above the portapotties. I understand the desire to avoid a scene in which drunken men trip over and then pee on one another in the dark, but the “why yes, I did just finish urinating” congratulatory spotlight was not a huge improvement.

Every beer fest has these oddities, though. The difference was that this one had a good beer selection and some kickass bottle openers. And, most importantly, it was fun. I recommend Draft’s festival — just heed my warning about the price.

4 Responses to “Big Red Pour Festival Report”
  1. David says:

    To respond to the questions in you first paragraph: in a word, yes.

  2. Ben K. says:

    Could have been worse: The potties could have had acoustic enhancement too.

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