Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Of Beer Fests and Mutually Supportive Geekery.

There's something about a beer festival. Maybe it's the camaraderie of other obsessive men. Because that's the prevailing demographic, even if a few obsessive women attend now and then. Which is always refreshing. Occasionally you even encounter a well-adjusted, well-rounded man or woman, which is like a ray of sunlight, or rather a breath of fresh air in a room full of beer farts. My point: the beer-fest strata is not far off from those at comic book conventions or stamp collector... thingies. Whatever it is that stamp collectors do.

Entering this sort of nerd-lair brings certain comforts. Two great ones spring to mind: First, the freedom to "geek out" with others who not only tolerate it but encourage it. Take notes. Expound on obscure flavors to show off your palate. Be a know-it-all. Or just drink and listen. Nobody cares. We're all enablers.

Speaking of enablers, this is the second great comfort: an abundance of alcohol. The food is typically forgettable.

So in Chelmsford I was relieved to find that British beer fests have certain commonalities with Belgian and American ones. (German beer fests are other creatures entirely, and they have their own merits as total piss-ups. But that's a topic for another day.)

I hate to be the guy who likes the strongest suds in a stable studded with sessionable stars. But the Felstar Back Stabber Stout was a real winner despite its 10% strength. It was a black and viscous liquid, a touch sweet, with caramel, roast coffee and toffee aromatics. Alcohol well-hidden. I expounded on those toffee flavors to anyone who would listen. Nobody cared. It was lovely.


  1. I've seen a fair few blokes at beer festivals who didn't look especially enabled. Rather the opposite, in many cases.

  2. Right. But in that case one must be enabled before he can be disabled.