Tuesday, May 22, 2012

North Park Craft Beer Block

Last Sunday we went to the Craft Beer Block at the North Park Festival of the Arts. I really like this festival and always have a good time when we go. There were some bad things to go with the good, so let's get to it, shall we?

The Good:

This is one of the more budget-friendly beer fests. Our tickets were $31 each and it got us a free T-shirt (more on this in the "bad" section), a keeper cup (plastic not glass, but I forgive them), 12 tastes of craft beer including a taste of the special Automatic Brewing limited beer.

This fest is 2 blocks from our apartment so we just walked right over - no searching for parking, no DUI issues to worry about.

They have good cheap eats from local restaurants with a $3 price point. We ate from the Jersey Joe's booth and I now have a new pizza place to add to my list of local favorites. Sadly I didn't get around to trying the homemade potato chips from the Range but maybe they will be back next year.

Lots of new beers to try! My favorites included the Monkey Paw/Stone collaboration Monkey Stones, Fezziwig's Brewing Cream Ale, Automatic Brewing 94/9 Insider Belgian Wheat, and Latitude 33 Vanilla's Porter. Nice to see (and taste) Aztec Brewing, Rough Draft, and Hess too - breweries that were not on the block last year.

I saw more San Diego breweries this year than last - the ratio of SD to other areas seemed higher than before. Although I love all craft beer it is just nice to see a focus on the local brewing scene since that is what I feel this street fair is all about.

The homebrewers guild had some great non-alcoholic ginger ale they were pouring for free. So tasty, in fact, that it's making me consider joining just to learn how to homebrew soda.

By going early we were able to see everything and get the beers we wanted before kegs started blowing!

The festival wasn't nearly as crowded as the Pizza Port fests. When we left there was still room to move aroud and it did not feel like a mosh pit. (Of course the space was much bigger than the Port fests, naybe they just need a larger venue)

Big thank you to the woman from Sea Rocket Bistro who helped me out (see the "ugly" section).

The Bad:

Lots of breweries just brought the same old beers they serve everywhere. Now I get that they are courting new customers and that it's only us die hard beer geeks that will complain... but kudos to Ballast Point for bringing both a seasonal and their standard fare.

Tailgate brought a hefeweizen that Warren grabbed a taste of and I don't know what it was but it sure wasn't a hefe... it was crystal clear - not cloudy at all, and had no discernable wheat flavor or aroma.

There was a bit of a snafu with the t-shirts. The online ordering had 3 different kinds of tickets: regular $30 admission, 94/9 Insider for $31 (with the special Automatic beer), regular admission with free t-shirt for $30. We chose the $31 to get the Automatic tasting and then went to a link no the site to send in out t-shirt sizes, but when we got to the fest the ticket person said we didn't have the right tickets for the free shirts. After a bit of discussion someone else with more info came along and we were able to get our shirts. Other bummer was that the largest shirt was XL, there were no XXL, so my shirt won't fit me.

Not as much swag as last year. Last year I picked up a ton of keychains and other geegaws, but this year Mother Earth was the only brewery I saw giving out anything more than stickers.

Not enough shade. We ended up sitting at a table next to one of the few umbrellas and taking turns running off to grab beer while the others watched the seat, but we still got sunburned.

The Ugly:

So I go to use the porta-potty about 15 minutes after the fest opens and the damn thing is out of toilet paper. And it's not just run out, there are not even empty rolls on the holder, this thing had not been stocked. End up having to poke my head out of the door to try to get some help and I see a woman from Sea Rocket Bistro who is asking the Elite Security where the handwashing sinks are. After a couple of minutes of the Elite guy telling her that this wasn't his problen the woman grabs me some paper out of one of the other porta potties and brings it to me. And I am left thinking - whoever was responsible, couldn't you check these things before you opened? And why is it such a big deal to the Elite guy that getting a roll of toilet paper isn't his job, and he has to tell me and the woman from Sea Rocket this?