<P>The day started out just like any other day except when I woke up, it wasn’t raining. That was an omen if ever I saw one. It had been raining for the past month here, with no let up in sight. I knew it would be a good day if it wasn’t raining. We got dressed and left for the festival around noon. It took over 2 hours to get there, because traffic was terrible, as usual. We finally arrived, only to have to park ½ mile away. But, I was not to be deterred from attending my very first beer festival. We had to wait in a line ¼ mile long, because the people taking the money for admissions were as slow as molasses in January. Our entry fee was $8.00, which included a 6 oz. sampling glass. Not bad for a day’s entertainment, especially since last year’s festival was $10 admission.
<P>Finally, we got in the gate at 2:15 PM, and they had already started serving the cask-conditioned ales. That was my whole point in going to this festival, for these exact beers. The festival was in a large field behind the Old Dominion brewery, laid out in basically a very large triangle. Along the right side as you entered were a few displays of old cars, and a souvenir stand selling Frisbees & tee shirts. Farther back, along the right side were the beginnings of the beer tents. In a neat row, they were lined up, serving some cold good beer. Along the back of the field were the majority of the breweries’ serving tents, and that is where the cask-conditioned beers were. Along the front side of the field were the food stands, and the stage for the live music was tucked into the corner of the left hand side of the field.
<P>Music was blasting, dogs were barking, people were mingling, talking about beer, mostly. The sun was beating down viciously, and the breeze was blowing slowly but surely. My wife made a beeline towards the tents set up in the middle of the field, selling crafts and such. I went over and stood in line for the cask-conditioned ales.
<p>The lines moved quickly, and in no time, I was holding my first and only glass of Old Dominion Oak Barrel Vanilla Bean Stout. Ah, a beauty to behold. Shimmering with the sunlight dancing off it, I was taken in by the moment, deciding whether I should drink it straight down, or savor it. I decided on the latter, and it’s a good thing I did too, because it was all gone by the time I made it back to the front of the line. Oh well, I still had ½ a glassful of liquid joy. As I savored every drop, my wife made her way back to me, holding some little artsy-fartsy thing she’d found at one of the vendors’ tents. She was getting too warm, especially since there was very little shade here, so she went under a big tent they had set up, and she rested awhile.
<P>Meanwhile, I was perusing the crowded field, in search of my next sample to try. What would I have? A weizen? A stout? A pale ale? What to pick, what to pick. It was difficult, seeing as how there were over 65 beers from 35 different breweries there. I decided on a pils instead. I made a good choice, as I picked a Tupper’s Hop Pocket Pils for my next beer. It also turned out to be delicious. In fact, most of the beers I had this day were very good, especially as they were on tap. I ended up having 7 different beers that I never had before on this day. Every one was a new experience, a newfound delight to behold. Beer can be wonderful, and a festival can be a wonderful experience.
<p>As the sun began to set in the western sky, my wife & I decided it would be a good time to leave, as most people weren’t leaving yet. I stopped in at the brewpub, and picked up a six-pack to go home with.
There’s nothing like a good, fresh six pack from your local brewery. I can’t wait until next years’ festival; I’ll be there early next time. I hope to see more of my fellow Ratebeerians there also. Until then, take care. Cobra.