What better way to kick off the weekend than at a Brisbane institution – the now 14th National Festival of Beers. While it could arguably be considered just another excuse for a pissup, the point is to sample beers from micro, and macro, breweries around the country [and some imported brands] that are generally less accessible. On arrival at the gate I notice there’s no queue and not a lot of people inside, but purchasing beer tickets and with ‘menus’ in paw, we head in. Friday’s probably the least busy night for the 3-day event, though the crowd that were there were certainly committed to their art – at the bar, on the dancefloor and everywhere they staggered in between.
First stop, the bar [obviously!], I order a Little Creatures Pale Ale and make an executive decision for Chris [while he takes some snaps], in the form of a Tenterfield Saddler – mine more of a honey wheat beer, his, with a maltier kick. In the background are the sounds of Cosmic Groove, with a handful groovers and plenty of onlookers on the tables outlining the classy ‘big tin shed’ – no pretence here, that’s f’sure!
Moving into the even bigger tin shed, with a continuous bar stretching the perimeter, I receive a txt: ‘we’re at the table by the wall’. Oh, ‘cos that helps! Still, we find our ‘waving’ friends and swap beer experiences thus far. I discover neither of them are beer quoffers – what the hell are they doing here then? But good for them, they didn’t come here to sit around and drink UDLs [as many people had???] and were doing their best to work through the menu – although Shannah greeted the darker ales/stouts with screwed-up nose and gritted teeth, while Adrian made his choices via alcohol percentage! Downing the first beers, we do the rounds again. I’d noticed the Ginja – begging to be sampled. If I could bloody find it! After traipsing the room to no avail, we end up in a ‘photo shoot‘ with Eric of the Grand Ridge award-winning ‘Natural Blonde’ variety. Amusing at first, but after a g’zillion poses, I was like, ‘Come on, I’m at a beerfest, I’m a bit thirsty y’know!’ In the meantime, a bloke next to me let me sample his Jameson’s Raspberry beer and hello – very palatable! Pink-lagerish, yet with a fantastic aftertaste. Still determined to find Ginja and Chris was after ‘the milk beer’, we got very frustrated with consecutive responses of: ‘we don’t have that one tonight’. Wha’? ‘150 different beer on tap at the same time,’ the promo reads! Sheesh.
Not happy, we search for a surrogate. Having sampled it, so knowing it’s ‘a safe bet’, I go the raspberry. Unfortunately, most of the stands didn’t allow you to sample, which was a little disappointing, especially given the absence of the ‘beer sampling’ sessions that night. While Chris burns his tonsils with the equally-trusty Robinson’s Chilli Beer, I get a snap with ‘Damien the Clown‘. Raising money for Variety, I throw in a gold coin and am then encouraged, ‘come on, empty your purse!’ Jesus, I’m being robbed by a clown and I don’t even like kids. Ahem…
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We head back to the live music where the two female vox-vixens are belting out some standard City Rowers/Friday’s covers, but when they crank out Lady Marmalade, I decide to shake me booty some! Not for long, however, as no one else has ‘enough courage’ to join me! We leave Shannah and Adrian, who now have resorted to UDLs and return to the ‘disco’, where, oddly, the first song I hear is Lady Marmalade… I groove along and hunt down another beer. Again perusing the stands without anything ‘really’ grabbing me, I’m at least given some feedback from a young Scottish barman. He ‘describes’ the beers and allows me to ‘try before you buy‘. I hate to whinge, but a-plenty of the ‘temp agency barstaff‘ [they couldn’t possibly be ‘real’ barpersons] didn’t seem to want to be there and couldn’t even differentiate the beers! When I ask if it’s a lager, ale, or as heavy as a stout I get told, ‘er, it’s a dark one, so yeah’. Fortunately, not only do I like the name and description of the Kiandra, I also like the taste, so take a glass, while Chris keeps hunting…
By this stage we’re pretty merry and prop ourselves by a pillar for a bout of people-watching. Not just ordinary people watching – pissed people watching. Pissed people dancing, pissed people groping one another, pissed people doing all SORTS of things! The chick without underwear [in see-through pants!] was something else, as was the guy who looked like a sheep shearer straight out of Toowoomba lookin’ for a ewe of his own! The beerfest attracts all kinds!
As the beers circled on my program ‘weren’t available’, I had to resort to a trusty fave, the Beez Kneez, while Chris chose a dangerous path. I know people oft-say ‘oh that tastes like camel piss’, but I had to tell him, ‘that really does taste like fucking urine, mate!’ He wasn’t impressed, not because he gives a damn what I think, but the fact that he didn’t think it was that bad, ‘but now that you mention it, all I can taste is piss’. Put him right off it and the poor bugger couldn’t even finish it!
We’d already done our 10-pack, but mysteriously, Chris had acquired some more. Good man! Again doubling up on beers I’d tried before, I opted for the chilli beer, except, I braved the ‘hot’ version – ping! How the hell do they keep ‘the kick’ throughout the brewing process, into a keg and into a glass, from top to bottom! It rocked! Like having a lager and a Thai curry all at once – is there a better combo? Tingly lips, after burn, the works! Got me craving some food, however, and that’s about when we left…