19 May Crown Beer Fest Sets, Then Meets, High Expectations
Having never been to a craft beer fest in northwest Indiana, I had no idea what to expect walking into the Crown Brew Fest. All I knew is that I had 4 hours to conquer roughly 40 breweries.
There are a couple key components that go into every craft beer festival that I think make or break an event: lines, beer availability, variety of vendors, bathrooms, and food options.
Lines – It’s a given that when hundreds of people are brought to a central location, you’re going to have to wait in line. Right from the start (meaning outside of the event) we stood in a line waiting to have our IDs and tickets checked. For the volume and capacity of people, the Crown Brewing staff did an excellent job herding everyone in. The lines LOOKED a lot worse than they actually were – the biggest line was to get in the event itself, which only took about 15 minutes. As far as the beer sample lines went, I don’t think I waited more than 5-10 minutes to get my pour even at some of the more popular vendors (a few I noted with a large posse: Triton Brewing, The Devil’s Trumpet, Route 2 Brews, New Holland Brewing Company, and Four Fathers. There were a few moments when I wish I had MORE time in line so I could savor my copious sample from the previous booth.
Beer Availability – Another significant concern with hundreds of thirsty craft beer lovers is how long the kegs are going to last. Every vendor had at least one tap, some like The Devil’s Trumpet brought their A game and had six different taps. Most of the breweries were going strong right till the end, as I didn’t see a lot of empty tables until about 20 minutes before the end of the event. As far as the samples, everyone was giving VERY generous pours. I remember at one point having half a pint glass full. Hence why I wouldn’t complain about having a line.
Variety of Vendors – With some many different vendors, there was easily something for everyone’s taste. From 100 IBU IPAs to thick oatmeal stouts, the options were endless. A couple of my favorites:
- Triton’s Shot To The Tart, a cherry flavored sour that I later found out is 10.2% ABV
- Twisted K-8 Brewing’s Two Cream Stout, a creamy milk stout with a smooth finish
- Route 2’s Leg Spreader, a crisp bitter ale with just the right amount of hops to make anyone happy
- Two Brothers Brewing Kick ‘Em In The Pilz, a distinctive pilsner complemented with a synergistic blend of hops and malt (easily one of my favorite beers and ecstatic that it’s currently on tap at Beer Geeks)
- Crown Brewing’s Grand Poobah, a specialty (offered once a year) brew given to us because my friend was rocking a Crown Brewing tshirt, is a bold Russian Imperial Stout with a roasty malt finish for those that desire a robust brew
Bathrooms – We’ve all been there, waiting in line for a grimy porta-pottie after breaking the seal is the biggest buzz kill at these events. Luckily I never had to wait more than 5 minutes, which is impressive considering the amount of people there.
Food Options – It’s all about the marathon of craft beer drinking, which means at some point you’re going to need some fuel to keep you going. My pretzel necklace only got me so far – I needed some substance. Thankfully Crown Brewing provided free cans of water and also had their friends from Carriage Court Pizza there with $3 slices. It was the foolproof balance of cheese and hydration revved me up for my final hour of beer tasting.
Considering it was my first NWI Beer Fest, I think the Crown Beer Fest set my expectations pretty high and then met them. Great beer, manageable crowds, and an entertaining atmosphere kept everyone happy for the full four hours of general admission. The real question now is where can I find all these awesome brews?