The weather was perfect. The crowd was spirited. The drinks were flowing. And I fell in love with a beer. All in all, my Labor Day weekend in Vermont was pretty damn awesome. Except for getting thrown out of the pool. And missing that huge chunk of time Saturday night in which I apparently ate and raved about Karen's London broil but cannot actually remember eating dinner. There were biscuits! And garlic mashed potatoes! And Caesar salad. And well, I don't think I'll get those brain cells back. But all in all, it was a great trip and we were all ready to sign up for a return trip during Oktoberfest, at least until the five and a half hour drive back without having showered or slept for multiple days got us to realize - hey, maybe just once a year isn't such a bad thing. Oh, and we missed the Garlic Festival this year, but I'll get to that.
So the trek up to Mt. Snow for the 13th annual Brewers' Festival got off to a rollicking start when we actually left early this year and made it past the New York Thruway without running into traffic, which is sort of like sucking out with a 2 on the river to have your K2 beat out an AK to keep you alive and propel you to an eventual 2nd place finish in a 22-person poker game the night before the trip. Except a little luckier. We stayed at the Grand Summit Resort Hotel, right on the mountain next to the ski lifts, which costs about the same per night as a weekend suite at the Borgata with a fully stocked mini-bar, but is heavily discounted for the offseason crowds of brew-festers, mountain bikers, and assorted families from Boston strangely unaware that they'd booked a suite on the same floor as a bunch of drunken idiots from Jersey. So the room was pretty nice. Although they could have at least made the metal bar shooting through the center of the pull-out mattress which served as my bed for the weekend just a tad less protruding. And that way I might be able to actually stand up straight this week. But I quibble.
The festivities began about 0.02 seconds after we entered the room, when I cracked open some raspberry wheat beer, took two sips, dumped the putrid remains down the sink, and headed straight for the Bacardi O. I'm sorry, there was no time to waste drinking bad beer. Friday night at the Brew Fest was not a time for strange beer experimentation. My bad. I'll learn better next time. And for the record - raspberries and beer? Not so much with the tasty.
We met our other intrepid travelers an hour or two later down the road at Deegan's Tavern, where the drinking activities sped up considerably (they had Fat Angel on tap! - although I stuck with the No.9) and I finally ate some food in the non-"nacho chip" variety for the first time since breakfast. We also met some nice lesbians at the table next to us (one of the lipstick variety, the other grousing about the treatment of gays by the local Vermonters) and introduced a nice family to the concept of Brew Fest (they were not from the area) and they actually showed up the next day, preschool children in tow. You gotta respect that. My dinner selection was the Vermont specialty - umm... pulled pork, which was admittedly a bold choice, but by the time I choked down my last gristly chunk, I think it tasted rather good. Of course by then, the Bacardi O was sinking in and No. 9 was the amount of dry heaves I would be fighting through at the end of the evening if I kept up the pace. Some billiards were played, some jukebox music was danced to (thankfully, not by me, I don't think), and I passed out at the hotel room at midnight. Good times.
Saturday morning. Brew Fest, Day One. The Grand Summit offered free breakfast for the first time since we've been staying there, although by "free" I think they meant "we jack up the room prices to pay for your warmed-over eggs and ice cold French toast in chafing dishes at the fancy restaurant on the first floor." Don't get me wrong, the bacon was delicious. And the service was excellent. But I didn't come all the way to Vermont for some heated up frozen omelettes, and the "free" breakfast screwed me out of our traditional pancakes and waffles excursions to Dot's Restaurant down at the bottom of Route 100 since my travel mates were too cheap to pay for a breakfast when the hotel was serving it for free. In other words, I didn't have a single serving of maple syrup while in Vermont. Although I hear the breakfast spread at the Grand Summit was somewhat more elaborate than the block of coagulated cheese nachos and stale cracker jacks offered for $20 a head at the Koren draft, organized by Mr. Switsky. That must have been tasty.
Speaking of drafts, the EFFL draft (defending champion - yours truly) took place on Saturday while I was in Vermont, for the express purpose of preventing yet another championship for the Silver & Black. And the plot of the Jews to keep me out of the money may have been successful, since the combination of howling winds on the mountain, weak phone reception, and the cramped space at Switsky's office overpowering Lenny's voice allowed me to catch about every third word from my proxy in NJ as I tried to make draft selections sitting on a bench at the far end of the Brew Fest while the Dave Matthews cover band played horrendous music at top volume from underneath the main tent. Let's just say, after my fourth pick (Andre Johnson!), things devolved very quickly and the words "Vince" and "Young" were followed a couple rounds later by "Eli" and "Manning." Not good times. And I wasn't even drunk then. That was quickly rectified once I realized that 3 of my first 4 running backs had the same bye week and just starting letting Lenny do the picks for me while ingesting as many beers as possible to catch up with my co-conspirators already on their 5th or 12th mugs. But thanks for your help, Lenny, I really do appreciate it, even when my team finishes out of the playoffs for the second time in a decade. It's not your fault I couldn't concentrate. As always, I blame the Jews.
Back to the Fest. There were something like 22 brewers involved this year, which was the most ever, and with each vendor bringing 2 to 4 beer selections, that's about 60 variations to sample within a 12 hour period spread between two days. Not a very easy task, and once I found the Orlio girls I pretty much gave up all hope of sampling even half the selections. I did, however, have some excellent beers, which I will detail in a more in-depth later post, but for now, let's just say... each pint-sized mason jar (we got mason jars to drink out of this year, instead of pint glasses -- cool?!) had a 9-0z fill line which nearly every vendor (especially the Orlio girls and the Harpoon guy) filled well past for the price of only one token ($2 each). I ran out of tokens about halfway through Saturday after starting with a dozen. Good times. This is why the events of Saturday night are a little sketchy...
I remember going swimming. I don't remember returning to the hotel, how we got there or when we got there or how I ended up in my bathing suit in the swimming pool. I do remember getting kicked out along with Chris for reasons that remain unclear but which Aaron described as "gay mermaid dancing." Now I'll be the first to admit that the description does not seem very flattering and since I really can't remember anything about that night, I'm in a relatively weak position to offer a countering point of view. But in my defense, I did invite the Orlio girls back to the pool. The fact that they did not show should not be held against me. Let's move on.
Dinner was served. Aaron lost his shoes, his mason jar and his T-shirt. Chris lost his room key and his T-shirt. I lost my sanity and several hundred brain cells. And Karen's London broil was delicious, I hear. I wish I could remember eating it. I do remember waking up in bed with Aaron at around eleven, which again, does not look good for me, but again, in my defense, his wife was in the room at the time. And it was my bed. And I was passed out. So I don't think I can be faulted for any "cuddling" that may or may not have occurred, at least according to certain third party accounts. Again, let's just move on.
I woke up with a terrible headache, the thoughts that I had bulloxed my EFFL draft, and in the midst of an in-depth discussion about The Sound of Music. Somehow I remember brewfests being a lot cooler in years past. Perhaps Sunday will be better.
Come back tomorrow for Part 2 of the recap and later this week for the in-depth Beer Report, including my new favorite beer of all time (hint, it rhymes with "Forlio"). Until then, F Switsky.