Friday, July 26, 2013

Indiana Microbrewers Festival 2013: The VIP Experience?

I bet a ton of you saw the ticket price for the VIP experience at the Indiana Microbrewers Festival, and said there is no way it's worth it. This was their first year doing it, and although there were some bumps in the road, it was pretty solid and I would do it again in a heartbeat. As VIPs we got ten limited release beers at two different tappings at 3 and 5, appetizers, early admittance and private bathrooms. I dropped off the Little Lady and Prof Beer to get in line at 1:45, an hour before the event was supposed to start, but only fifteen minutes before VIP and early admission started. Of course I forgot my phone so I had to haul ass back to the car and get it, because it isn't easy to blog, drink and check in to Untappd without your phone. When I got back we realized there was not just the early admittance line, but also a very short VIP line. The experience had begun!

As I was whisked through security and given a glass, I couldn't help but think "damn that worked out great!" but for the next hour that's where the experience stopped. The guys at the gate told me that the first VIP tapping would be at 3 o'clock and we should make our way to the VIP tent to partake, but for the first hour we were free to get as much brew as we could hold!

The beers were outstanding. We were having such a good time at the festival we almost didn't make it to the VIP tent at three. There was no signage to indicate that it was the VIP tent, but it had been marked on our map. Unfortunately for us, everyone else wanted to be there on time for the first tapping. The line went about a hundred feet outside the tent. We waited through it only to find out it was actually the line for food, but no one in the back of the line knew that. It's funny, when a line forms everyone just seems to get in the back and wait. Luckily the appetizer-style food was really tasty and that helped me get over the fact that I had waited in line for ten minutes for food not beer. Lucky for us the beer line was short. The first VIP tapping was a great line up, but most of us were hearing rumors about what the second one would be, and that got everyone excited for 5 o'clock. Three Floyds was really the only big dissapiontment. Their limited special bla..bla...bla release for VIPs, was dreadnaught.

When we came back for the 5 o'clock tapping there was no line. We got in quickly and everything looked clean and much better organized. The only problem was the beers weren't ready until about a quarter after. I know you're thinking ohh poor guy, got VIP tickets, but the festival is so much fun it is hard to miss it, especially when you are missing just to stand in line. Five o'clock beers were outstanding! Food was very good as well. The only problem I saw at five was that they were allowing general admission tickets in to use the bathrooms. I actually left the VIP tent area to find a bathroom with a shorter line.

I talked to Rob from Flat 12 for a little while, and he noticed some of the trouble we were having in the VIP tent. He's looking to clean it up for next year, so everyone should be pumped. These are my suggestions to make the VIP experience better:
  1. Tap things on time, and quickly (we think we spent over an hour in the VIP tent and half of that was in line)
  2. The brewers were hovering around, have them there officially and let them say something about their awesome creations. These were some of the best brews I've had, let them take some credit for it.
  3. More bathrooms, and keep the general public out of them. (again general waiting in line)
  4. More notoriety for VIPs, people should be jealous of the VIP ticket holders, so they want to do it next year. If no one sees how cool it is, you'll never get more people paying for the experience 
  5. keep up the GREAT BREWS!
My favorite beers of the festival were:
1. Pappy Fog (Velvet Fog aged in Pappy Van Winkle Bourbon barrels) by Sun King (vip)
2. Batch 1 by Triton (vip)
3. A four year vertical of Scotch Ale by Shoreline brewer (vip)
4. Cucumber Kolsch, Gin Barrel aged by Flat 12
5. 25th Anniversary Volume I by Lakefront Brewing

Honorable Mentions in no specific order:
BA Double Dog Dare by Fountain Square (vip)
25th Anniversary Volume II by Lakefront Brewing
Funk a Dile by Flat 12 (vip)

Best Selection: Flat 12 you knocked it out of the park! I could have spent an hour in your booth just tasting the awesome creations.

Darkhorse: Lakefront Brewery, Milwaukee WI. Huge surprise! I had never heard of these guys, but damn they make some great and unique brews.

It seemed like the VIP experience was just missing one thing, experience. The organizers had never done this before so they were fumbling with it a little bit, and I never really felt like a very important person. That being said, the beer was incredible and made it all worth while. For the hour early admittance and all the amazing beers they handed out I would do it again in a heartbeat! Thanks for putting on such a great show!

I had 47 unique beers throughout the day, but I went back for sixths of Pappy Fog and Batch 1, because when it's that good, it is hard to only have one.

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