Thursday, June 3, 2010
There’s a big difference between the guy doing naked keg stands and real beer enthusiasts. True beer enthusiasts are not much different from wine enthusiasts. They too love seeking choices from all over the world, getting to know the history of their favorite brands and investigating what beverages pair well with certain foods. They can use the word “palate” too, thank you very much.
Many of them will be lined up outside of the Monterey Fairgrounds on Saturday, June 5, with their 2010 Monterey Beer Festival ticket clutched in hand, eager to start an afternoon of food, music and (most importantly) non-stop beer.
More than 80 breweries from across the country and the world will meet them behind the gates, many of them pouring a selection of their best and newest. They’ll include well-known major leaguers like Sierra Nevada and Gordon Biersch, and hidden gems like Papagno Brewery and Bear Republic. They’ll offer taste buds a world tour by way of Japan’s Asahi and Scotland’s Belhaven, Russia’s Baltika and Italy’s Moretti, Canada’s Molsen and Belgium’s Duvel and DeKoninck.
“I’m looking for real diversity to please everyone’s tastes and style,” says MBF founder Jeff Moses. “There is a large selection, from light lagers to heavy stouts, so everyone gets what they want, whether you want to have the one favorite beer all day or drink 57 different ones.”
To that end, attendees are given a mini MBF mug to encourage more sampling and less streaking Fremont Boulevard. They are also provided an extra day to squeeze in more tastes with a free pre-party Friday at the Culinary Center of Monterey.
To keep that diversity dialed in, Moses is always scouting new worthy breweries to invite to the festival. Rare is the craft beer he hasn’t tried. His goal: tastes that challenge and surprise, and an overall festival that makes guests what he calls “smarter drinkers” versed in the deep encyclopedia of tastes out there.
For Moses, some intelligent day-of strategies have emerged after eight years of chairing the event: He’s quick to say it’s a good idea to begin with a wheat beer to “get the palette ready.” Heavier beers are better left until the afternoon moves into its last couple of hours
When the hunger sets in, the possibilities for food and drink pairings grow vivid. For the barbecue oysters by Sea Harvest, maybe a stout like Big Black Bear Stout, which won Gold in last year’s L.A. International Beer Competition. For heavier fare like the gourmet burgers from Culinary Center or the tri-tip from Grandma’s Kitchen, maybe an ale like Firehouse’s Leatherhead Brown Ale to balance out the richness of the red meat and elevate the aftertaste.
The pairings don’t end there – and shouldn’t, since beer pairs so well with classic rock.
“I tried to give the attendees what they want with this [music] lineup,” Moses says. “Beer Fest is a great social event and the majority of the people come for the party.”
The Tom Petty tribute band Petty Theft returns after a very well received set at last year’s festival. As the day progresses and spirits continue to rise, Powerage will up the crowd’s energy by bombarding them with AC/DC covers. Finally, as the day reaches its end, with everyone wearing a coy grin and friends wrapping their arms around each other’s shoulders, Nuthin’ Fancy will summon summer day Lynyrd Skynyrd anthems.
“Now that ‘funny guy’ in the back who always yells out ‘Freebird!’ will finally get his wish,” Moses says. “Well, in all honesty, that’s usually me.”
A different and innovative pairing debuts this year: beer and film (apparently beer enthusiasts have turned auteur) with the first ever Short Pour Film Fest, a collection of 3-minute-or-less films ranging from live action and animation to music videos to commercials, all on the subject of beer. Moses says he got the idea from a variety of beer podcasts he found online, including The Happy Hour Guys.
Spotlighted will be this year’s winner and runner-up “The Swagger Stagger” by Sayre Piotrkowski and “BEER NATION – Craft Beer Bandit” by Mike Winn and Seth Wright. Unlike festivals that confine viewers to their chairs for the entirety, the 80-minute Shout Pour production will be on a loop so that people can slip in and out throughout the day for what Moses calls a “film fest on the flow.”
“You can sit with your beer, take a break from the sun and watch the films,” he says, “then head back out to the fest and catch the music.”
It will be on the Monterey County Fairgrounds lawns that people will see long lost acquaintances and make new drinking buddies – and maybe fall in love with more than a Scrimshaw or a Brother Thelonious beer. No one realized when they purchased their 2009 MBF ticket they were also RSVPing to attend an ale-adoring couple’s wedding reception.
That fueled plenty of toasting and storytelling during and after the festival, and much more anticipation for what unexpected action this year. One thing is certain, at least: The day will be a social one.
“Beer festivals belong to the people,” Moses says. “Beer is a very communal beverage. It’s uplifting; people get together and have a great time.”