Thursday, July 25, 2013

Indiana Microbrewers Festival 2013: #Volunteering

Volunteering.  Some people do it for the emotional high they get after helping people in need.  Others do it for fun.  For me it is a bit of both with a dash of curiosity.  What does it take to get the Microbrewers Festival 2013 up and running?

Prep work: Friday afternoon 10-2pm - Set up tents/tables/chairs

Day of: 10:30am
I showed up early to help get stuff in order before the main contingent of volunteers showed up.  I blame that on over eagerness.  Jason w/ Hoosier Beer Geek (HBG), one of the walkie-talkie wielding El Heffe's of the event, had me taping instructions to the brewers tables.  None of the breweries were there yet so I was making pretty good time.

What caught me off guard was when I turned down the area designated "the Alley" only to meet Blaine Stuckey with Mad Anthony Brewing basically finishing up his stall...  After introductions and a little talking shop he brought up another event that sounds fun and is coming up soon.  "Say OktoBEERfest!"  The Barons and I hope to make it to this festival as well!

After the initial pep talk from Rodney w/ HBG (Congrats to your wife again on the new job!) we all got sussed out into groups.  It felt kinda like divvying up for teams out on the playground.  "How many you got?  Do you have to have Suzy AND Sally?  You have 14 we have 12... Close enough!"  I chose Gate 1 with Jake from HBG.

Gate 1
Most of you who have attended the Microbrewers Festival's in the past know that Gate 1 is "THE Gate". I would say 80-90% of Joe-Public went through this gate to get into the festivities.  Daunting, but the team of volunteers we had running Gate 1 were pros.  High fives all around!  It also doesn't hurt that we had Jake from HBG running point. Clocking in at seven feet tall, he looks like he could play starting center for the Blackhawks.  He is a man who loves to say "No" and has every reason to back it up. I'll have his back no matter what because he had mine a few times dealing with obstinate inebriated individuals.

Pro-Tip: THERE'S A GATE 2!

At this point things got hectic.  There was the scramble to get Gate 1 setup, then the pre-scanning, ID'ing, wrist-banding and corralling of event goers.  I was feverishly trying to keep up with handing out glasses and maps.  My experience was the VIP and Early Birds were a nice group, but by the time we started corralling for General Admittance people were a little antsy/inebriated.  I have a feeling that's why we posted volunteers as security for the second corral.  All in all everyone was pleasant.  Just know I still ran like hell to get out of the way when we "let loose the hounds" at 3pm General Admittance.

Volunteer FUN TIME!  One reason to be a volunteer is to get these snazzy loud yellow shirts that scream VOLUNTEER.  The second reason is the privilege of line jumping.  I kinda felt like Spider-Man with a twist... "with great responsibility come great powers"  This was the reward for all the hard work put in for the day.  Granted volunteers had limited time to get brews, hence the line privileges.

It was a little frantic trying to find and taste as many beers as I could when my fun time hit.  The only disappointment was not being able to get back to the Alley.  If I wasn't a volunteer I could have had more time to taste more beers, but I don't think I would have had as many of the rare/limited releases. I'll take volunteering any day with my super suit... I mean shirt!  Just have to find a way to work with/around the limited half-hour tappings that has become all the rage at festivals.

I wound up with 32 tastes in 2 hours, with a pit stop for lunch.  Just shy of a gallon of beer consumed. I even made it back to finish off my volunteering shift at Gate 1, unlike some of my compatriots...

Closing Time!  C-Shift (which was just me) and Jake played bouncer for an hour.  I really appreciate all the volunteers that stayed or came over to help us out!  By 7 we had a wall of volunteers directing everyone out with the friendly "Drive Safe!" and more for their benefit than ours "Chug it like a CHAMP or pour it out."  Last thing we wanted was for them to get arrested and us to get sued.  Many photo ops were had next to the "No Pass Outs" sign and apparently hugs really are free!

Once the last event goers were gone, a quick collapse and stack of chairs and tables were done.  A final side of clean up the trash and recycling was had and we all called it a night.

All in all a good event!

Finish up: Couple of hours Sunday tearing down tents and returning them with the table and chairs to storage.

Top 5 Brews:
**Pappy Fog - Sun King Brewing - Indianapolis, IN
*Batch 666: Sympathy for the Devil - Sun King Brewing - Indianapolis, IN
**Batch 1 - Triton Brewing - Indianapolis, IN
Spider King - Brugge Brasserie - Indianapolis, IN
Ghost Pepper Imperial Stout - ZwanzigZ - Columbus, IN

* Limited Tapping; ** VIP ONLY-ish Thanks Big Guy!

Favorite Breweries:
Flat 12 - Year after year they bring the most inventive, fun, and very unique festival only beers.  Their "Mad Fermentoligist" mentality mixed with us, their test subjects, will always have me stopping by and supporting their brews!  Last year was Tennis, this year was bowling... I wonder what kind of showmanship they have up their sleeve for next year or the next festival!?  They also get bonus points for having all their brews available at kick off!

Sun King - I may give them hell for having extremely limited quantities of special/festival beers, but it may be the demand & excitement for their brews that is outpacing their supply that is the root cause of the scarcity.  I listed two of their beers on my Top 5.

It seems unfair to others, but the quality of the product blows me away.  Even though they are on the limited half-hour tapping list, I still love what they do.  Good job and keep it up guys 'n gals!    

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