Beeristic: Fair Vs. Festival

The title of this article is a strained reference to the 2002 film Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever. The fact that I’m explaining this probably means I should have gone with something different. What I’m trying to say is I attended both a fair and a festival this past weekend, and I’m going to write about them as writers are wont to do.

Saturday posed a bit of a dilemma for the local beer geek/enthusiast/hopeless alcoholic, given that there were two beer fests in the state that same day; the Highlands Beer Festival here in Louisville and Lexington’s Altech Craft Brews and Food Festival. I chose the Highlands Festival, because ever since I was denied admission to Keeneland because my hat wasn’t jaunty enough, Lexington and I haven’t always been on the same page.

As someone who has had to jump through flaming hoops of death to get one keg to one customer, I can’t imagine the logistical nightmare it must be to organize a beer festival. The folks at the Highlands ValuMarket do it twice a year, which frankly makes me question their collective sanity. However, there is a method to their probable madness, as the festival is always hugely successful and a lot of fun. It is also assholes-to-elbows crowded.

A person notable for his absence was Minor Local Celebrity John King who, in a desperate attempt to become a Minor Regional Celebrity, attended the Upland Sour Beer Fest in Indianapolis. I did see a lot of the usual local beer event suspects, and a lot of newcomers. As craft beer’s popularity continues to grow, I’ve noticed that the Bud Light-pounding neanderthal who two years ago called you a “pussy” for drinking a Belgian tripel is now at your favorite craft beer event, polluting the air with Axe body spray and berating volunteers for not pouring anything “hoppy” enough. While I do believe it is my duty to welcome these brutish louts to the good beer tent, I also reserve the right to feel superior to them while doing so. Dude, you can do 500 one-armed pushups and you date a Victoria’s Secret model, but six months ago your favorite beer was Leinenkugel’s Summer Shandy, and I’m not going to let you forget that because I’m a horrible, insecure person who once pulled a back muscle reaching for the remote.

Late wrestling legend Andre the Giant once drank 156 16-oz beers in one sitting. It’s a shame he’s dead, because he could have attended the Highlands Beer Fest, sampled every single beer there, and told us his favorite. Me, I’m going to have to go off of a smaller sampler size and proclaim Flat 12’s Pinko 23, an imperial stout aged in 23-year-old Pappy Van Winkle barrels, as my favorite of the fest. I’m not a professional beer reviewer, but imagine all of the good things in life and none of the bad. Now convert that goodness to a convenient liquid form and you have Pinko 23.

The next day had just perfect weather to stand outside, drink beer, and celebrate buying local. The Buy Local Fair is held each year at the
Water Tower and features local beer, food trucks, farmers, artists, merchants, etc. Unfortunately, I was ONCE AGAIN disappointed that the Port-a-Pottys appeared to have been made outside the state. If you or someone you know makes good, local shit receptacles please contact the event organizers as soon as possible.

The Buy Local Fair was a kid-friendly event, but I liked it anyway, mainly because I was able to purchase a Brie and Bacon burger from the Grind food truck and wash it down with Against the Grain’s version of a Belgian table beer, whose name escapes me. Someone google that for me. I also had a very tasty Great Flood brown ale.

Admission was free but it cost $5 to park. Riding a bicycle to the event got patrons free parking and a smug sense of self-satisfaction that was guaranteed to last through the duration of the fair. Also, there were volunteers wearing “Trash Talker” t-shirts there to belittle guests for throwing trash in the recycle bins and vice versa. It was a very polite style of belittling, though. I was hoping for some legitimate shaming. This was the first year for the “Trash Talker” program, so I’m sure by next year they’ll really be making people feel like crap.

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