We rode a school bus shuttle down to Olin-Turville park. 


Even though we got there about 12:15 and the gates did not open till 1:00, we were already hundreds of people back in line.  Check out the long line.  2.6 MB 


But, we got in around 1:15 and found ourselves right in front of Three Floyds Brewing.  I am holding Gumballhead and Jerry has a Baltic Porter.  It was an excellent start to the day.


Click HERE for a panoramic picture of the grounds.  There were 3 main tents, each tent hosting about 20 different brewpubs and breweries on each side.  Yeah.  Ridiculous.  In fact, there was an entire side of one tent that we did not even sample anything from.  We heard there were 120 breweries and brewpubs in total, each typically pouring 4-8 (or more) different kinds of beer.


This gives you a little idea of the scope.  This is most of of one side of one tent...


We knew we were going to have to get serious if we were going to make any dent in this stuff.  We had each brought an extra sample glass and fortunately, no one minding pouring us two different samples at once.  We would usually share with each other.  That way we got 4 sample tastes at once instead of one or two.


I see this guy at the Autumn Brew Review often.  He sells the sample glass holders you wear around your neck.


One of the great surprises was how consistently awesome The Livery was.  We drank all 8 of their beers and there was not a bad one in the bunch.  From the double hopped Anniversay IPA, to the Bourbon cask aged Belgian Dark Trippel, to the hoppy French farmhouse ale, to the insane Bourbon cask aged wheat Trippelbock Lager at 17% abv, Steve (seen above at left, owner, brewer) does fantastic work.


There were lots of small acoustic or marching bands running around the grounds.  Here is one, complete with dancing Elvis.  5 MB


Hop Union had set up a display and I could not resist putting my nose into this bale of hops.


All right let's get serious folks.  We heard Sam Adams was going to be putting on some of their world-famous Utopias on tap at 3:00 pm.  We had met one of the pourers at the New Glarus brewery the day before and he said he would hook us up if we saw him.  Well, he did.  But first, we had to wait in the huge line.  Check out this video to see how crazy it was.  2.8 MB  I have never seen so much excitement generated by a beer before.



The one Jerry has in his left hand was my sample, a normal portion.  The one he has in his right hand was the one he got from our friend.  It must have had about twice a normal portion, and this stuff was considered liquid gold at the fest.  Bottles sell for over $100 and it is 25% abv.   There must have been over 100 people waiting in line to get just a drop.   [I am holding the same sample glasses.  No we did not get 4 glasses of the stuff].

I threatened to get out the headband that Scott lent me as a joke should we actually score some Utopias.

We had a wonderful time tasting it for the first time.  What's that?  You wish you were a fly on the wall for that?  Well, here you go.  10 MB  This is my favorite video of the weekend.  :)  Turned out pretty good for me just holding out with my free hand.


The far end of the fest seemed to be a haven for those who brought chairs and didn't want to intensely seek out beer samples.


The headband joke turned into Packer Gangsta for the rest of the day. 


Dragonmead had some good beers, a trippel, a wit, and a barleywine were all very nice.


There was also a good crowd for the 5:00 tapping of oak-aged Dark Lord by Three Floyds.  It was not quite as crazy as the Utopias line, but still you could see how excited and intense people get about these limited release beer tappings.  Here is a video of us in line.  1.15 MB  




In retrospect, maybe it was greedy to take two samples each of this beer.  But, we were far from the first people in line, so hopefully everyone got some who wanted it... 


This imperial stout was wonderful.  Smooth and full of coffee and other roasted flavors.  It settled almost like a Guinness on nitro.


Across the water you could see the Capital building.


Six o'clock came way too fast.  We tried 53 different beers [click here for the list].  Not bad, but hardly a scratch in the 500+ there probably were to sample. 

Soon we were standing in a ridiculously long lone for a $1 cab ride.  The line was in the form of a U.  Here is just 1/4 of the bottom of the U.  It must have taken, I dunno, an hour before it was our turn.  And that was a long hour;  I was having trouble standing still.  I blame the Dark Lord!  I could walk just fine, but standing in one place was becoming a challenge. 


At least I could still stand.  Man down - always a sight at the end of a beer festival. 


Finally we were off and on our way home for a measly $1 each.  Gotta love that.


Made it with plenty of time before the Packer's first pre-season game came on.  It was a glorious day, one that maybe we will be able to repeat next year.

Thanks to Scott and Steph for letting us stay at their house.

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