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Curmudgeon’s Corner: How to comport yourself at beer festivals

on March 12 | in Curmudgeon's Corner | by | with 4 Comments

Listen up, nymphs and tadpoles!

Just because I haven’t yelled at you in a while doesn’t mean you haven’t needed it. I’ve just been busy. For one thing, I’ve been spending a lot of my time making beer for, and sometimes serving it to, you undeserving Philistines.

Recently, I had the pleasure of pouring beer at a brewery’s booth at the Michigan Brewers Guild Winter Beer Festival. It really is a pleasure, because pouring beer for people makes them happy, except for a few dimwits. And it’s really them I want to talk about, in case you are one of them.

But first let me talk about those of us behind the booth. Some of us are brewers, some are brewery employees who may know about the beer and some are volunteers. Generally we are all paid the same thing for the day: Bubkes. Yeah, we get into the festival for free, which means on breaks we can take a trip around the fest to visit our buds and grab a few samples, but even you must admit it’s meager pay to deal with you lot. So pay attention here! The nerves you save may be my own.

For starters, that sign overhead in front of me, facing outward announcing our beers? I can’t see it, as my x-ray vision is out for repair, so when you point at it and grunt, I only think you’re pooping your pants. Also, because I can’t see the sign, I also can’t see which beer name is written in what-all different colors, so when you ask for the purple one, I’m going to be scratching my head. Unless, of course, we have some lame-o blueberry beer, which we won’t, so piss off.

Waited in line for a few minutes? You might’ve used that time to prepare yourself a bit, so that it’s not such a surprise when I ask you what you would like. Also, you might want to locate your cup and a token. The willingness-to-pour of the person behind the counter is of no use if you don’t give over your cup.

Now, if you have questions about the beers, the answers to which will determine your choice, no worries. We like to talk about beer, and so do the other folks in line behind you who may well benefit from our talk. It’s a large part of why we’re all here. Another significant reason the people behind you are here is that they like to drink beer, so do be mindful that they’re patiently waiting for you. If things are hopelessly bollixed up — say, your girlfriend left for the bathroom with your cups and tokens — step aside and let the line move. When she comes back, we’ll hook you up. We’re all in this together.

Let’s rehearse. Say the sign lists a few beers, including a porter, a bock beer and the hypothetical Sunny Day Pale Ale. Here are some ways to correctly order the latter beer:

  • “I’ll have a Sunny Day!” <hands over cup, throws token in box>
  • “I’ll have a pale ale!” <hands over cup, throws token in box>
  • “I’ll have your hoppiest beer!” <hands over cup, throws token in box>

Now, was that so hard?

Yes, the token. We are required to collect them by the powers that be, whether we want to or not. Every booth gets a token for a beer, every time. It shouldn’t be a surprise to you each time, and you should have some damn idea where your tokens are. Fumbling through your pockets or purse is something you can do before you get to the head of the line.

And you, Mr. Game-the-System. Mr. Play-the-Percentages. Mr. Never-Offer-Up-the-Token-Until-Asked, on the 25% or so chance you won’t be. (And it is always a Mr.; the ladies never seem to stoop to this.) Four words: You. Are. A. Dick. I can spot you a mile away, and every time you pull your shit, I accidentally get my pinky in your beer. The one I dig the wax out of my ear with. Then I don’t give your cup back until I get a token. Dick.

A couple more admonishments:

  • Don’t ask, “What’s good?” Give us some credit. If we didn’t think it was good, we wouldn’t serve it to you.
  • Rinse your glass between samples. It’s an insult to the brewer to present a glass full of sticky residue from your sample of Maple Sap Liquor Barrel Aged Cherry Licorice Imperial Quadrupel and ask him to pour his prize-winning Bohemian pils right on in, especially if you then loudly opine, as if you’re Michael Freakin’ Jackson,  that it “seems a bit off.”
  • Drink your rinse water. You need it.

Thus edified, go forth, children, and potate. Just be advised: That snowmobile suit does make your ass look big.

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4 Responses to Curmudgeon’s Corner: How to comport yourself at beer festivals

  1. eriksmithdotcom says:

    Great post! Some people have no etiquette!

  2. DangerGirl says:

    Sorry, I have to admit that the chances that I’ll remember to give a token without being asked is inversely proportional to how many beer samples I have had. If that makes me a dick, then so be it, I’m a dick.

  3. Josh Tipton says:

    Two wrongs don’t make a right. Retaliating against the “Dick” that tried to get a beer without a token by violating heath codes, “Mr. Pinky Soaker Dick”, is not cool. I’ll have to make sure i avoid your tent so that I don’t get herpes or something because I looked at you the wrong way.

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