I should first begin this article by mentioning that from the very beginning of the expedition my sails had been set to follow only those ocean currents, which flow into the black seas of memory loss. A potentially dangerous direction, which if not navigated carefully could surely lead myself and shipmates into the breeding grounds of carnivorous leatherback sea turtles. A fate much worse than thirty top-ranking microbreweries would have you believe.
I sealed myself into this fate when I offered the woman at the cash register enough money for several strips of glorious perforated paper strips. Like a small child in a Chuck-E-Cheese franchise I wandered in awe with my fistful of tickets, did I want the bracelet, the miniature koosh thing, or the poorly made plastic Taiwanese racecar?
Immediately upon entering, I had lost sight of all that was important. All of the names of my most sought after brews had fled from my memories. I was swimming in a swirl of banners depicting the coats of arms of nearly 54 microbreweries, and was well aware that to continue following this spiral would almost assuredly have me spinning out of control by the end of the night.
The first booth I approached happened to be that of Lagunitas. I held a sample of their red up to the light, its smooth copper body snuck around under the tan head and left my eyes wondering what beauty it may behold for the sensory-receptors located on the upper side of my tongue. But there was no time to think about exactly how delicious it was for there were many more beers in the immediate atmosphere, all of which needed to be in me.
Trudging on aimlessly in search for the DogFish Head, the efforts of myself and the rest of my campaign were beginning to seem futile; morale was at an all time low. So we accepted our humility and asked for directions, only to hear a response, “That’s us.” from behind the table with no banner, complementary coaster or oversized foam #1 index finger. Funny how these things work we think to ourselves and request our choice between the 60-Minute IPA and the India Brown. Those of us who selected the India Brown would be sourly disappointed by its foul aroma and flavor, something went terribly wrong here and the good people of greater Eugene area bared the greatest palate aches of all. The 60-Minute however was delicious in ways that most common, mass-produced humans are unable fathom.
As time passes the crowd begins to swell and pulses rhythmically at an alarming rate, a great contrast to the mustached, cover band on stage, who only sing to beckon everyone in the establishment to raise our glasses until the sounds of their horrific music can more easily stream through our ears without our minds even taking notice of it.
Feeling eyes on me I scan the scene only to find myself staring into the nitro-infused pupils of the Old Rasputin. Wanting not to decline his challenge, I stepped in at the back of the line, as it seems to be the customary etiquette around here, at this point in the evening few citizens had shifted into the mindset of the beast man. Several of the weakest of the heard had turned away, made squeamish by the advancing nature of this six-headed North Coast black beast. But not me, oh no, not me, I had bought the ticket and intended on taking the ride all the way to Clackamas County.
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What I had failed to notice in the earlier stages of intoxication is the ease of acting as though you’ve already given up a ticket in order to acquire free ale. A douche-move? Probably but with breweries running out of selected ales left and right, it had become a game of cutthroat and I was dead set on getting as much malt, bliss and hop varieties into my slowly-collapsing skull as could fit without strain. With two gifted full cups in the last frame I was beginning to stumble more closely toward my predetermined destiny than I felt comfortable to admit.
Some may have calculated a precise plan of attack in order to swoop through the house in a systematic fashion, tasting each worthwhile brewery without ever being detected by military science. This was not the agreed upon policy for myself and associates, by now we were all evenly dispersed throughout the crowed wandering toward whoever’s banner should capture our attention. And if it weren’t for our foolhardy, haphazard approach I could easily have missed out on such little known standouts as Oregon Trail ‘s Ginseng Porter and Coors’ Imperial Piss.
The gathering continues to rage on louder than ever underneath the structural steel frame, which stretched overhead, I don’t know much about the selected spanning system but am comfortable in admitting it to be far more orange than it is healthy.
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Instantly I was on the ground and my glass was knocked out my hand. I had been hit with a rubber-spherical-projectile-device. A dodge-ball match had erupted at the center of the gymnasium and no one was safe, glasses hit the ground at an alarming rate, though I lost a grip on mine it somehow maintained its composure, not cracking under the pressure, as many of its fallen brethren had in the last moments of the festivity.
Being held in Eugene, Oregon, there of course were non-profit organizations involved. The shards of glass swept up after the festival were to be flown immediately to Somalia where they would be ground into sand for the sandboxes of under-privileged middle aged men who have not yet lost their love for sandcastles. This was the plan until the representatives of the Deschutes brewery made off with the stockpile of glass, claiming it could be linked to eco-terrorism.
As if this weren’t enough, all hell broke loose as cigarette smokers attempted to fill their cups one last time only to notice that they had been locked out during their competitive game of lung darts. The circus was leaving on the very cloud of mystery that it rode in on. Miraculously the sky turned a deep amber/gold while the aroma of fresh hops and esters filled the air. As all soldiers departed the battle field, we walked the swaggered trails back to wherever we may call home, leaving behind us a trail of many fond memories, most of which will never be remembered, but we would be permitted to keep the beer in our digestive systems for as long as we could hold it in.