Behind the Scenes: Brew Woo
Beer fests are fun. They’re also pretty exhausting for those who work them, especially brewers. Don’t believe me? Next time you’re at a two-session fest that lasts until, say 9:00 PM, head over to your favorite brewer and say hello at like 8:45 PM. Observe the look on their face. It usually says something like “Please find me a couch, asap”.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m supremely thankful for every beer fest invite I get- and we try to do them all. It’s just that, for 2 people (and in the case of yesterday’s Brew Woo Fest, one), it can be a lot of work. Let me take you through my day yesterday:
7:30 a.m: Wake up, swear a bunch at how it’s 7:30 on a weekend and I’m awake.
8:00 a.m: Shower, coffee, music – all aimed at getting my ass motivated.
8:30 a.m: Prep time. Breaking out our cold plate, faucets, Sanke connectors, hoses, etc. Basically everything that touches our beer in any way shape or form gets disinfected by yours truly. Things get boiled and cleaned with caustic. It’s a relatively simple (yet time consuming) step we take to ensure the beer is the best it can be when people sample it. It seems silly to spend so much time brewing and perfecting a beer, only to serve it through a dirty cold plate or a skunky faucet. No thank you.
10:00 a.m: While some of the stuff is soaking, I spend time cutting stickers. We re-use a lot of the labels we put on our bottles. Since they’re all marked with the bottle-on date, we can only use them once per batch. Thankfully, everyone seems to like taking them home at brew fests- it just means we have to cut them off the giant rolls they come on. Again, relatively easy- but time consuming.
10:30 a.m: Loading the car with all the shit we need for a fest. This includes: At least 3 kegs, cooler (for the cold plate), jockey box shell, t shirts, any bottles we’re bringing, banner, bag of previously sanitized Sanke connectors, faucets etc (you’ll understand why thats italicized in a minute) CO2 tanks, blah blah blah, you get the point. We’ve got a CRV, which has a decent amount of space, but our Tetris skills still come in handy when loading in. Oh yea, and we stash kegs in our apartment, so we gotta haul those sons’abitches down a couple flights of stairs before loading them into the car. <- Not fun. I do not envy the guys who have to deliver those things regularly to accounts.
11:00 a.m: Pick up Zach, our one faithful volunteer yesterday, and hit the road.
12:oo p.m: Arrive in Worcester at the DCU Center. I quickly realize I have forgotten something. Not something small, mind you. I have forgotten all the goddamn Sanke connectors, faucets, hoses and shit that was previously italicized above. So basically Zach and I are sitting in Worcester with a bunch of beer we can’t serve. We kid around about forging ahead anyway, telling fest attendees they can have all the beer they want, if they can just find a way to get it out of the fucking keg- but that probably wouldn’t go over well. The only thing we can do is drive back to Boston and retrieve the forgotten shit. Mind you, it’s an hour to Boston and the event starts at 2:00 p.m. This should be interesting.
*Driving like a deranged lunatic on the Mass Pike*
2:05 p.m: I have no idea how we made the trip this fast. It might have had something to do with the speed-of-sound-like pace we were keeping on the high-way, but we made it back just as the first attendees were trickling in. Like mad men, Zach and I got our booth together- he hanging up the banner and staging all the merch, while I got the kegs hooked up through the jockey box and ready to go. Just imagine two cracked out Tazmanian Devils setting up a beer booth, that was basically us.
2:20 p.m: Setup and ready to rock. How the hell did we pull that off?
5:00 p.m: First intermission, much needed food and a chance to sit down.
6:00 p.m: Second session – put your smiles on! And wipe that BBQ pulled pork off your cheek, you slob.
8:00 p.m: This is about the time when brewers start checking their watches and saying: ”HOW THE FUCK IS IT ONLY 8:00!??”
9:00 p.m: DONE! Now begins the frantic process of loading all your crap back into your car, among 30+ other breweries who are doing the same. Logistically kind of a nightmare, but everyone is so glad to be done at this point that we’re all usually in high spirits. Some take their time, some, like us, rush – mainly because of the long drive ahead and the desire to park myself at a bar somewhere asap.
9:30 p.m: On the road, after stopping for some coffee so we don’t straight pass out on the way back.
10:30 p.m: Finally back in Boston. So, after roughly 160 miles of driving, a few bouts of panic and 3 kegs of beer being poured, we had a really successful event. Granted, not every event is this much of debacle in terms of setup. My forgetting one key bag of supplies really turned this entire day on its head- but you never know.
That’s what keeps it exciting, right?
Yea…something like that!