Monday, July 18, 2005

Portland International Beer Festival (part 1/2)

PIBF is held in the park blocks of Portland. About 2 grassy, shady blocks are quarantined off by fencing (to keep underage drinkers out). There's an entry gate at the south end where you get your wrist band, 4oz taster glass and 10 tickets. As you walk in, you can hear the music playing and see the beer tents set up around the perimeter. There are many tables with umbrellas & chairs in the middle of the makeshift courtyard underneath the canopy of trees. Plus, plenty of food vendors interspersed. The layout is good... makes it feel like a beer garden rather than aisles of beer vendors where it feels like a big ordeal to wait in line, get beer, drink beer, wait in next line, repeat.

The $20 cover is steep. Very steep, but it seems to weed out the riff-raff. Beers are either 1, 2 or 3 tickets, depending on the cost of the beer to import. Most are one ticket. I checked in at the volunteer booth, got my Bruce Lee "Fist Full of Beer" t-shirt of him holding two pints and was asked if I prefer "tap or bottle". I replied it didn't matter and he sent me to station # 3. Um, ok. Turns out it was the Spaten on draft station... I started off pouring their Dinkelacker Dunkel, Spaten Optimator, Franziskaner Hefe-Weisse, and their Helles Bock. The Hefe-weisse was kicked in no time -- it was the last day and 92 degrees. Then another volunteer showed up and I was shifted down a couple taps to the Spaten Premium Lager, Oktoberfest (Ur-Marzen)& Spaten Pils where I stayed for the duration. (Description of these beers is here).

Short version: I would do it again in a second and make everyone I know do it too. Very fun. Awesome to see it from the other side. You get to talk and pour beer all day. See the cuties, the drunks, the know-it-alls and the hairy-armpit-moms-who-yell-at-you-for-not-pouring-her-enough-as-she-breast-feeds-her-baby-in-the-other-arm. aaaahhh. All in all, very fun. I loved the two people who came up for a beer, handed me their ticket & when I asked for their glass, they go "doh" and went back to their table for it, only to return embarrassed but happy.

Since I was working the last shift, no beer to drink after. That part was very sad. A guy in charge saw the big bottom lip on me and Jim (the 55 year old volunteer next to me) and gave us 1/8th of a pitcher of the Hitachino Nest Ginger Ale, a ginger-infused beer out of Japan, to taste as they were shutting down the taps. We cowered in the corner with our pitcher and toasted to our good fortune like it was the last beer on earth. It was good, but I'd like more of a bite at the end. I prefered Karl's ginger ale to this one.

So definitely volunteer at your local beer-fest (it's a blast) and pick an early shift so you can drink beer afterwards. Also, if you have a beer-loving friend... both of you should sign up -- things are pretty relaxed where you can ask to work together, making it even more fun. Apparently a whole women's roller derby team volunteered for Saturday night. I heard it was quite a sight.

As I left to pick up my gift certificate with Jim, we were told that the gift certificates were all gone. I guess cowering in the corner with our 4 oz of beer cost us each $20.

"But don't worry," said the guy in charge, "we'll go shopping. Wait here."

Jim and I stand there with one other guy who missed his gift certificate too. The guy returns about 5 minutes later with 7 cases of assorted imported beer.

"What do you like?" be continued below.


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