Friday, April 22, 2016

Ölmönger Special: Why should you avoid beer festivals? Part 1: Things

Tallinn Craft Beer Weekend (TCBW) 2016 in Estonia took place on 1-2 April. It was soon followed by Helsinki Beer Festival (HBF) 2016 in Finland on 15-16 April. In Finland during summer 2016 there will be four Suuret Oluet, Pienet Panimot a.k.a SOPP-happenings, OlutSatama in Jyväskylä in June, Craft Beer Helsinki in the turn of June & July and Pub Winston Craft Brewery Fest in Pori in August, to name a few. And of course, OlutExpo (the site is still in 2015 mode) will surely take place in the end of October in Helsinki.

From the title of the post you can deduct, that I attended neither TCBW nor HBF this spring. There just were other plans. At first I was like: "Bummer!". Then I thought about it a little and understood that it would have been a bummer to have the chance to go to either of these beer festivals. Because I would probably have taken the chance, made the trip and fallen to the idiocy trap.
"Going to BeerFest? Put your head here..."
"What do you mean?" I hear a suspicious voice asking.

* * *

Let's begin with money. TCBW tickets cost 60 € per day or 100 € per two days and included entrance and as much beer as you could drink. HBF tickets cost 12 € per day or 20 € per two days and included only entrance: in addition you would've needed to pay for
  • some tokens for the beer (4 € per token for ca. 2 l = 7 oz. of beer)
  • the beer glass (4 € deposit, 2 € returned) and
  • the cloakroom service (3 €).
So it's fair to say that each event would have cost 60-80 € per day or 100-120 € per two days. In addition in my case, we have to add the travel from Pori to Tallinn/Helsinki, the lodging for at least one night and the meals to the bill. The final cost would have been like 200 € for the lowest budget for one day and 250-300 € for normal traveling per day. If I had attended both events for one day, that would've been at least 400 € spent in the end.

Holy f*ck: you could buy a shitload of excellent beer with that price. And you don't have to enjoy all that in a hurry during one or two evenings. Even for the people in Tallinn or Helsinki 60-80 € can be spent for more and better fun.

* * *
If hard values don't make you convinced, we'll have to check out the product you're paying for: the beer. The amount of beer you get with the money is relatively small: with the complete 200-250 € spent it's clearly impossible to get a decent amount of beer drunk during the festival hours. At least you would be very, very drunk, which itself isn't always a bad thing.

The variety of the beer in festival is another thing. A rough categorization of the beer selection in festivals by their common availability is:
  1. The beers that are already easily available when the event takes place.
  2. The beers that become easily available after the event.
  3. The beers that are hard to find both before and after the event.
  4. The beers that are basically available only in the event
Category 1 beers' problem is, that why in the hell would you drink them in the festival if you have already found them from the nearest pub, shop, monopoly store or online shop. To enjoy beer in a messy habitat? To compare quality of tap cleanliness? To estimate the effect of noise to the beer taste? No, there's no sensible reason. We'll forget category 1 beers, then.

Category 2 is a bit different, since clairvoyants are rather rare or even non-existent among people of Earth: you can't really tell before the event, which of the unavailable beers become available afterwards, can you? Logically, they could be the beers that the crowd drinks most or that get most hyped, since the festival attendees might be used as a test group for the product's demand and success. So probably if there's a good beer in the event you'll have the chance to get it later. If the beer is just overhyped, you hurry to taste it and look like an incarnated WTF for the next couple of days. By the way, that state of mind is called the Yellow Belly Syndrome, as you probably know. So, we'll throw away the category 2 beers.
a.k.a. "The Emperor's New Clothes"

Categories 3 and 4 differ only in that measure, that the beers in the previous are hard to get and the beers in the latter "impossible". Clever, eh? Category 3 beers make me wonder that are rare or difficultly findable beers so much better than easily reachable, and aren't there so many beers rather easily available that you can forget the hard ones. And how does rareness taste in the beer? I mean something else than the non-beery yucky main taste of a novice homebrewer's creations or of a brewing experiment gone 'orribly wrong. I would say that the difference between "hard-to-get" and "(almost-)everywhere" beers is negligible.

Category 4 beers are only for those beer-drinkers who think that having more once-in-a-lifetime experiences is having better experiences, so called "experience collectors" (see the story in next chapter). By the way, what other than sh*t can the "available only in here" beers taste like? Could you buy the explanation: "Well, it's so good and people like it so much, that we decided to sell it only here today"? Sounds like crap to me.

So, there are no beers even in categories 3 or 4 worth making the visit. The beer isn't be the reason, then.

* * *       

"Hey! You forget the experience!" someone yells. Clearly a festival guest.

Uh, the experience. It's all about the experience. You didn't live if there were no experiences. Well, I'd prefer not to use the word 'experience' about spending an evening and a night in an old industry hall being drunk and standing in the waiting line most of the time.

Hey, honestly, that's about it. Both TCBW and HBF were organized in uncosy surroundings, weren't they? Of course, there was always the plan to drink with moderation, but how many times has the reality followed it? In the end, you have to wait for the best beers with at least dozen of other people or settle for the nasty experimental stuff no one is even remotely interested about. Which wouldn't be a big deal, since after sipping 20 different brews during the evening your taste buds don't spot the difference between chocolate and fertilizer. After you get your tenth of the pint, you've lost your seat, one of all 37 in the area. But that doesn't matter, since next day you don't have the faintest idea what happened after the first three hours of the event.

We don't have to mention anything about the unsavoury food, the live = dead music or the literally shitty restrooms at the event, do we?

The word 'experience' cries for a story:

An occasional acquaintance, the Frequent Traveller, walks to me and brags:
- Man, the Taj Mahal was great!
- Yeah, but it's nothing compared to Machu Picchu, I answer with a deceitful glow in my eye.

We see an incredulous but desperate face and the Traveller quickly leave. We hear that he sold his car and his motorcycle to get the tickets to Peru. After a couple of months we meet again:
- Man, the view from Machu Picchu was incredible, I hear him show off.
- Yeah, but you ought to see the Himalayas, I lie and crush his dreamtale, watch the envy-greenish face and then the Traveller goes again.

Question: whose experiences are better? His for running after his obsession and practically ruining his life to have experiences, or mine for abusing him and making a joke of his obsession. I think neither, but the latter leaves me with more time and probably more money to have real and unique experiences. Life is cruel.

* * *

So, that's the end of lesson one. We'll continue with the actual, more important reason to avoid beer festivals in the only sequel that will be published next week. Until then enjoy this Special Ölbeat.

Special Ölbeat

If you end up in a beer festival, that's how you know. No excuses or explanations:

Nico & Vinz (feat. Bebe Rexha & Kid Ink): That's How You Know (Youtube)

From the 2015 EP Cornerstone, the song was written by the Nico, Vinz, Julia Michaels and Brian Collins. The song kinda explains itself, so the babbling's off.

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