Add A Comment August 26th, 2012

Columbus Summer Beerfest

Posted by Kyle

Columbus Summer Beerfest

A new venue. Some new features. Lots of very important people.

When I first heard the Columbus Beerfest was moving their summer event to the LC Pavilion, I was really intrigued. Outdoor fests are usually pretty rad — as long as the weather cooperates — and the LC is fantastic venue for any kind of event. I did wonder, though, how they would utilize the space, and if it would be conducive to easy navigation and wayfinding.

One of the positive ways they used the space was by inviting some local food trucks. A few of the more well-known trucks lined the festival entry, including Mikey’s Late Night Slice, Sophie’s Gourmet Pierogi, and The Cheesy Truck. Their offerings were a nice change of pace from the fairly uninspired grub available at the convention center refreshment stands. Others must have felt the same, all the trucks had a crowd throughout the evening.

Another nice (at least in theory) addition, was that of a VIP room. Set on its own in the A&R Bar, the VIP-only tasting room housed several more unique and limited brews, like Brooklyn’s Blast!, Hoppin’ Frog’s B.O.R.I.S. The Crusher Oatmeal Imperial Stout, and The Bruery’s Mischief, among others. All well and good if the organizers hadn’t completely oversold the VIP tickets and packed the room to capacity.

If I had to guess, I’d say that about two-thirds of the total attendees had purchased VIP tickets. Probably double the amount that should have been allowed to. The entry line, even at 5:45, was absolutely ridiculous. It stretched all the way down Neil Avenue, around the corner onto Vine Street, and ended near the 670 off-ramp. Damn near every person that shuffled by was grumbling about the number of “VIPs” and the length of the line.

Once inside, some of my concerns about the layout were confirmed. There was no flow. No organization. No rhyme or reason. Tables lined the wall, on both levels, around the stage, a number of them were separated off in a corner, about a dozen or so were set up inside the main building, and then a handful were at the very top of the lawn. Those few at the top were a pain to get to — because of the incline and the crowds on the walkway — but some of the best breweries (Dogfish Head, Four String, Fat Heads) were up there, so it was worth the trip.

Dogfish Head had an expected selection, Indian Brown, Tweason’ale, Chicory Stout, and 90 Minute. Nothing too special. Four String had their usual duo, Brass Knuckle and Backstage Blonde, but also a third that I hadn’t yet tried called Big Star White IPA. It was pretty mild — tasty — but I still prefer their pale ale. Fat Head’s had a consistently large crowd all night, and with good reason. They had their excellent Head Hunter IPA there (which got tapped out before I could try some), Starlight Lager, and Sorcerer, a Belgian dark strong ale that was really nice. My beer of the night, however, had to go Elevator, and their “Big Vic” Imperial Mogabi. “Big Vic” is an American pale wheat ale, heavy on the hops with tons of fruit notes. If you see it on draft around town, be sure to give it a try.

All in all, the Columbus Summer Beerfest was a pleasant evening. The weather was perfect — not too hot, not too cold, no rain — the beer selection was slightly above average, and the food trucks were a nice add. They really need to look at curbing their VIP sales, though. Or increasing the price difference between regular admission and VIP to try to balance it out a bit. Until they do that, it’ll just be another excuse for Columbus to get drunk.

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