#Winterfest Dos and Don’ts (From Me to Future Me)

I am a lucky girl. I love great beer – and I happen to live in the Twin Cities, where the craft brew culture is booming. I also love great events – and this past weekend, I got to go to one of the year’s best: Winterfest.

This was actually my second year at the Minnesota Craft Brewer’s Guild event, and both years have been great. And, well, learning experiences. I am already hoping to go again next year, so this is basically a list for Future Rachel. Still, you may as well reap the benefits of my beer-tasting wisdom, internet strangers.

So it begins.

So it begins.

Do obsessively hit “page refresh” for ten minutes before the tickets go on sale. The event is capped at 750 people, and sells out in seconds. I’ve managed to get tickets for two years in a row using this highly scientific method, and also dark magic.

Do eat before you go. Yes, they have food at the event, and it’s included in the price. I bet it’s pretty great, too. Last year I think I ate some cheese; this year I completely missed out on all of it. Whatever you do, don’t go to a 3-hour all-you-can-drink craft beer event on an empty stomach. Rookie mistake (that you only make once).

Do gloat about this event taking place in St. Paul, the right side of the river.

Do your research. Look through the program and have a top ten list of brews you do not want to miss, and find those first. Things do run out, plus you want to try the snobbiest stuff (technical term) before your tongue goes numb. Also, if I hadn’t looked over the program, I might have totally missed the Sugar Shack Maple Stout from Third Street Brewhouse. It’s made with Saint John’s Maple Syrup from the Arboretum where I used to work. I really like it, but with a pedigree like that, how could I not?

This has nothing to do with beer, but any time I bring up my time at the Arb I like to remind people I did this once.

Look, I know this has nothing to do with beer, but this is the most badass picture of me in existence and it was taken at the Arboretum, so I’m sharing it again.

Do bring your ID, a pen, and your tallest friend. The ID is obvious. The pen is for taking notes and/or writing your phone number on strangers’ hands. And the tall friend is easy to find in a crowd, and can also find you if/when you wander off.

Do dress appropriately. For some that means warm boots and gloves. For others an outfit you can easily sleep in on your friend’s couch. For me that means both.

Do find the Excelsior Brewing Company booth and take pictures of the staff; when you find them on your camera the next morning, understand that you will be left with more questions than answers:

They just posed like this, without any direction. Naturals.

Probably this was towards the end of the night.

Don’t be embarrassed when you spot someone you met and talked to for half an hour at a past a beer event and you can’t remember her name. She doesn’t remember your name, either.

Don’t force yourself to finish anything you don’t like. Give it to your tall friend who seems to like all the things you don’t (another reason you brought him), and find something you like better.

Don’t be afraid to not love the things everyone else loves. There may be a time and a place for me to drink Barley John’s award-winning Dark Knight Returns; that time was not two hours into the event, after an uncertain number of other pours, when I knew it was a really heavy hitter. Some other night, DKR.

Don’t live-tweet the event.

livetweet

MNBeer.com knows what I’m talking about, or wants me to shut up.

Do make an active effort to find and drink water.

Don’t get upset when one of your brewer friends makes fun of you for drinking water. He’s working and therefore sober, and definitely laughing at your slightly slurry, indignant response.

Do make friends. It’s fine if you don’t pay attention to her last name. You’ll think of something.

Legit beer friends.

The truest form of friendship.

Do have a safe drive lined up. Even if you cancel on your original safe drive to catch a ride with your new friend, Stephanie Beer and her boyfriend, Sober Dan.

Don’t go to the Onion afterwards. Just don’t. You hate that place. It never ends well for you there.

....Best laid plans...

….Best laid plans…

Do expect your best friend to text back: “UGH, RACHEL, you hate that place!” because she knows you.

Don’t be surprised if you wake up the next morning and think, “I’ve felt better.” But since you remembered to eat before the event, and drank plenty of water, you’re actually in pretty good shape and will be up as soon as you have some coffee.

So there you have it. That’s how you semi-sensibly enjoy one of the best beer events in the Twin Cities.

(But seriously, don’t go to the Onion next year.)

Advertisements

Sports and wine: a winning combination

(see what I did there?)

In the effort of full disclosure, I should probably admit I went on two (2) brewery tours today, and might still be feeling the effects.  During the first, I kept Lacy abreast of developments via text message.  These are messages I sent her:

One (11:48 a.m.): “Beer one is a stout.”

Two (12:02 P.M.): “Two is an Oktoberfest.”

Three (12:25 P.M.): “And thE THIRD IS A PORTER WHY IS THIS IN ALL CAPS.”

As usual, I find myself funnier than anyone else ever will…even accidentally.

True Love at the Brewery

A picture from tour two: Promises were made, hearts were broken.

Anyway.  How excited are you all that Moneyball is in theaters??? Pretty excited, right?  I know I am; now maybe I’ll stop getting “exclusive invites” to this movie, which I already went to see once at a screening about two weeks ago.  I took my friend Becky, who charitably gave it an “okay.”  I gave it a “there’s a reason sports movies are usually about athletes and games and not general managers and math.”  But ONCE AGAIN IN THE EFFORT OF FULL DISCLOSURE, the reason Becky and I even went to this screening was the free wine they offered us beforehand.

First of all, how confident are you in your movie if you are feeding your preview audience wine ahead of time?  Second of all, why wine, which makes a lady* such as this pretty sleepy?  The last time I drank wine before a movie I wound up writing in my journal in the darkness halfway through due to boredom (different day, different story).  I didn’t do that this time, but I was restless.  In all honesty, the movie is getting good reviews, and it might be okay, except that it is pretending to be a sports movie.  As an avid watcher of sports movies, I can tell you this is less about sports and more about a dude who has a job.  Sometimes he’s on the phone or crunching numbers.  He also has an ex-wife.

If that still sounds appealing to you, go for it.  After all, dude is Brad Pitt.  And he does have a Jonah Hill sidekick.

So why did I title this post as if I feel positively about the combination of wine and sports?  Because THANKS TO A BOTTLE OF WINE and the proximity of the internet and an unfortunately memorized credit card number, Lacy and I will be attending our first ever Vikings game tomorrow.  We are sitting in a section that might as well be called “Hella Gone” but we absolutely could not care.  Even when I woke up the morning after said wine/internet shopping, and the first words out of Lacy’s mouth were “remember what we bought last night?” I’m more excited than ever.  You know I would have bought those tickets anyway, but thank you, Pinot Grigio, for convincing Lacy she “needs” to go with me.  SKOL WINE.

*I use this term loosely**

**see what else I did there?

Best Things of the…uh…

Oh.  Um.  Hi there, internet.  It’s been a while, huh?  Yeah, I guess we both got busy.  Me with my volunteering and nuns and friends and you with your…cats

Look, we can go back and forth all day about who forgot to write in her blog for two weeks, or we can just get to the point.  Which is, I’ve done some stuff that needs to be documented for posterity/my mother.  I can’t remember exactly when things happened and I’m too lazy to figure it out right now, so here are the highlights by category, in the order I think of them.

1. Movies

First, I got free advanced screening passes to Warrior.  Still not sure why I get these, but just in case someone out there thinks my opinion matters: I actually really enjoyed this movie.  Okay, it was a bit messy — far too many plot lines, and just seeing the preview once gives away too much, and the usual amount of sports movie cliches — but also: Tom Hardy’s ridiculous body.

Warrior Poster

Also I really enjoy sports movie cliches.

Second, I tried to get other people excited about going to a late-night showing of one of my favorite movies, Die Hard, but was thwarted by a total lack of interest.  Girls, right?  Instead, Manolo took me to fill in a gap in my Bill Murray knowledge: we watched What About Bob? at Minnehaha Falls for the final Minneapolis Music & Movies in the Park of the season. This was my favorite part:

Manolo was surprised I’d never seen this movie before, but frankly, I just watch Die Hard over and over.

2. Good Deeds

I’ve already expressed my love for Feed My Starving Children, which is a super easy volunteer activity and makes me feel helpful (the famine, however, is worsening).  Last week, Lacy and I found a completely different and even easier volunteer opportunity — handing out money at a Bingo game!  It could not have been easier or more fun, especially when one of my new friends told me, “we may be the soldiers but you ladies are really the bosses.”  He then tried to give me half his winnings, but I told him I was being paid in cookies.

You know how in TV shows like Alias, characters realize they’ve been raised specifically to be awesome at being, say, a spy? It’s like that with me.  Except that instead of spying, I was raised to be a goof for the amusement of the elderly.  Thanks, ma.  So I’ll be back to visit my new friends, and not just for the cookies.  I just cannot deny my calling anymore.

The second good deed was just today, and might explain why this post is slightly goofy: I donated blood to the Red Cross today!  I like to donate because I can, and quite a few of my friends are not able, and the need is constant (although I admit I was inspired to sign up this time after warnings of the east coast hurricane).  This was just my third visit, and my veins get slower each time — it took a solid seventeen minutes to donate 1 pint of blood today.

Seriously, the things I will do for a cookie.

3. Food and Beverage

But the cookies weren’t the least healthy thing I ate this week!  Oh no!  I went to the Minnesota State Fair last weekend.  If you can deep fry it and put it on a stick, I probably ate it.  Twice.  I’m thinking of you, Macaroni and Cheese on a Stick.  I’m always thinking of you.

State Fair

The view from the Sky Glider. Food was not allowed up there, so I got bored and took a picture.

Earlier in the weekend, I went on a tour of Summit Brewery in St. Paul.  I do enjoy a good beer — my favorite is “whatever’s dark on tap” — and one is usually enough to get me a little bit silly.  Good thing Summit gave me, er, three!

summit beer and me being giddy

Those aren’t all my…hands. Those are all my beers though.

I might try to volunteer there some day.  I’m always looking for a worthy cause!

4.  Football

I’m still thinking about it more than a little constantly; I’m even wearing a Vikings shirt in the picture above.  While it looks like a building season for the Vikings, I’m excited just to see how everything plays out.  I’m way more excited about Christian Ponder than Donavan McNabb, but maybe that’s because I’ve had my fill of, um, “veteran” quarterbacks.  Speaking of, don’t be surprised if I actually buy a number 4 jersey this year, because of this:

Kluwe will be taking number 4 along with his ice cream cone (and my heart).  Every negotiation I make in the future will include an ice cream demand.  I shall call it the Kluwe Clause.