Saturday 11/12/11 was 3 Floyds 15th anniversary. They brew some fantastic beers. There was a 6 hour line to get into this event. Not for me though I knew better and arrived 2 hours early, I was about 20 minuttes from getting beer in the line.
The Beer: The Anniversary Beer was a super stout called Ballerstout which was made from Darkness, Darklord, Beer Geek Brunch, and Black Albert. Other beers to buy were Brandy Barrel Aged Dark Lord, Several Sours and One Off 3 Floyds Products. We got 4 Brandy DL and 1 Conquistador De Muerta. I got to sample Ballerstout outside in the beer tent. It was really good, It was very drinkable for being a big stout. The flavors were a perfect mesh of the strengths of the various components of the beer. It had the dark fruits from Darklord without the overall viscosity, it had the hop flavor of Darkness without being as intense, It had the coffee of Mikkeller without being too astringent.
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The Event: once I dropped a lot of cash on beer inside I moved outside. There were 5 tasting stations with 1 brewery at each. Strangely each brewery only had 1 jockey w/ 2 taps. So they only had 2 beers on tap each. Pouring sample sizes it takes a long time to go through a keg, so the beers weren't rolling over very quickly. Except for De Struise, their turnover was great, and I think their beers were well received. The food was over priced, I paid 5 dollars for half an meat sandwich, that was a little odd, and then 5 dollars for a small pulled pork sandwich. To improve this they needed more jockey boxes, a larger area, and a better way to sell beer. If for example instead of herding everyone through the gate immediately into the beer sale line they had allowed them to buy food, drink the fair, or pooped, this could have allowed more people onto the grounds. I enjoyed the special beers because I was at the front of the line, had there been no special beers to buy I wouldn't have cared where in the line I was except for being able to leave earlier. Find a larger space; The bruery utilizes the phoenix club, Founders shuts down the street in front of the brewery for Founders Fest; The parking lot is not big enough for 2500 people. My 2 cents is worth about that though.
Would I go again? Sure, I know how these things work. I wasn't terribly inconvenienced by any of it: No chairs inside? No problem. No coolers? No problem. Over priced food? I ate in line, and again just to sample the fair. The highlight for me was buying the beer, I could have done that and left. All in all I think that this event and others like it would be better served by over preparing. More food, more beer serving areas, a better system for getting people in, let people pick up beer starting a few days before at the pub, and let it go for a week after. Non travelers could cut the line down. The Bruery let us pick up our reserve society beers hours before the party. When the party happened they were under prepared, but at least I was inside drinking and waiting in line, not out side in line getting pissed.