Well, we went.

We tried really hard to have fun but several things made that pretty difficult.

For one, the number of people at the event was at the upper limit of what the space could handle.  I knew it was going to be packed and that we would have to wait in lines for beer samples, but I didn’t expect that it would be nearly impossible to stand in one spot and actually drink your beer because you were constantly being washed away by the crowds. All the pictures we have are from the first 20 minutes of being there because shortly after that it became impossible to take anymore with how many people there were.

There were very few places to sit too, so we found ourselves chugging samples quickly because without time to stop and enjoy, we were at our next sample stand in seconds.

I waited 20 minutes in line for a t-shirt to be told that they were sold out.  This was 1 and a half hours after it started; I was sure that by getting there early I wouldn’t have a problem getting a shirt.

I was disappointed in the food offerings as well.  It seemed that all the foods chosen for the event had the sole aim of keeping people heavily fed to keep them from getting too drunk.  Pizza, hot dogs, hamburgers, and BBQ sandwiches were the main choices unless you wanted to stand in line for a bag of Doritos.  I had expected there to be foods available that paired well with craft beers; like warm soft-baked pretzels with whole grain mustard, dark breads, various cheeses and cured meats, maybe even some meat or cheese filled pastries.  Instead it kind felt like a frat party catered by the local pizza joint.

The worst part was that there was nothing to learn at the event.  Very few vendors offered to tell me anything about the samples offered and once when I asked a vendor what one of their offerings was she actually said “I have no idea” and proceeded to pick up the bottle and read it to answer my question.

Even with all that, we could have just enjoyed a day of drinking beer in public if it hadn’t have been so unbearably hot out!  We had expected mid-70’s and breezy but got 80-something degrees with no air movement.  That is not the festival’s fault, of course, but still made it difficult to enjoy.

I’m really just disappointed.  Decatur is a beer connoisseur’s paradise, where every restaurant and bar offers a wide array of interesting beers from around the world with an extremely knowledgable staff to help you choose something just right for you. This event had so much potential to celebrate that, but instead just turned into an expensive and frustrating way to get drunk with strangers.

Unless the formula changes, we’re not going back next year.