Based on a Groupon that popped up last week, I thought I would give the Kegs Casks and Curds event a try. I didn’t go last year and since beer whiskey and cheese are a lot more relevant than than the Holy Trinity in my house, I figured it was going to be awesome. I mean, cheese beer and whiskey all at a fest? Come on now. Who wouldn’t love that?
Ugh. I didn’t. I don’t want to slam the thing completely. I did end up having an OK time in the end. The pairings, when I had time to think about them, were tasty and the venue, Mile High Station, is beautiful. There are issues, that if you attended any of the early beer festivals at Mile High Station, you are probably aware of. The biggest one is that they tend to oversell their events.
I will start from the beginning, I suppose. As soon as we pulled up, I was a bit surprised to see the number of people lined up outside. I am not a fan of lines and had I known, I would have gotten there earlier. My lovely partner saw the look in my eye and tried to talk me out of becoming an ass and told me to calm down. I did my best and got in line. Once things started flowing, the line moved quickly enough and we got inside.
Only to find a shitload of lines! Wow. We got our tasting “cup” which were those shitty plastic wine cups that you sometimes find at parties. You know, the ones that with the slightest pressure or simple gust of wind, crack and become completely useless for their intended purpose of holding any liquid whatsoever. Once we were armed with our delicate vessels, we took a look around. The lines for the breweries were at least 20 people deep. Wow. We went upstairs to find more of the same. Incredulous, we got into the line that seemed to be for Downslope Distilling.
We moved through fairly quickly to get our little sample. Since this was our first stop, we found out what was going on. At each station, there was a beverage that supposedly had been paired with a cheese which was also at that station. Each sampling went something like this: Greeting, name of beverage, tiny amount poured into “cup,” fumble with cup to grab cracker and deposit cheese on top, turn around, run into huffy patron waiting behind you, cheese falls from cracker, to prevent further loss, jam cracker into mouth and shuffle away to next monumental line and suck down the sample without much thought to the “pairing.” This pretty much defined the afternoon.
After the Downslope Double Diamond Whiskey, which was damned good, it had a fiery back on a young and charming lack of refinement, we moved on to Stranahan’s and Leopold Brothers. Interestingly, since the whiskeys were set in another room, you could get through these lines pretty well. After we did some whiskey, we headed out into the beer world. By that time you would be lucky to find a line with 20 people in it. We were debating on whether it was worth it to stay. We go into a line that snaked around pillars and tables and had no idea what brewery we were waiting for. As we got closer we could tell that it was Lefthand and after 5 or 10 minutes we made it up to get our micro-sample of 400lb Monkey and a nice mild blue. Cram, sip, we moved on again to our next line. Rinse and repeat.
This thing was so oversold it hurt. Double the price and halve the attendees. Breweries ran out of beer before the end of the event, of course. My real peeve (out of the many) was that cheese trays were going empty so the pairing became a nice quaint idea. Worse, some of the trays were full of uneaten Brie rinds. Fucking gross. Hey, eat the goddam rind. It is delicious and the Gods Of Cheese intended you to eat Brie with the rind. When you dig out the paste and leave the dead fungal corpse it makes me want to kill myself. Regardless, if the cheese handlers were not completely overwhelmed, they could have spirited it away and I would not have had to look at it and wonder how good it could have been.
Ah, this post is only going down hill. I said I didn’t want to slam it entirely but in retrospect, it just wasn’t great. This could be done better. More breweries could jump on board and lessen the overall impact or just sell less tickets. I doubt that I will be returning next year, unless of course I hear that things are changing. I will say that people who got pissed and left made it better for those of us who stuck it out. The lines became more manageable and went to prove that less people overall would have been better for everyone. In, Colorado, Land Of The Beerfest, you would think that someone would have had the experience to point out how lame this was before they let us all in. Shame on you. These beverages and cheeses should not have been put on such shoddy and disrespectful display.