Sunday, June 1, 2008

Thumbs up on MCBF '08

Just in from the 2008 Magic City Brewfest. The Star's 10-strong contingent had a great time, despite the occasional rain and one nearly hour-long storm delay. Over the next few days I'll be emptying out my notebook here on the blog. In the meantime, here's a few highlights from the festival off the top of my head:
  • There was Alabama-brewed beer there after all. Birmingham's Good People Brewing Co. is finally off the ground, and debuted their brown ale to the public at the festival. They'll begin full-scale production this week.
  • Rougue's Chocolate Stout was outstanding. That's it in the glass above. That's also it spilled on my shirt after a slight accident as I fiddled with the camera. (Don't worry, most of it come right out with water from a nearby rinse station.)
  • The food was much improved this year. Among my favorites: meatball & corn from Yarbourough Catering (I think that's right), Jambalaya & sweet cornbread from 5 Points Grille, and hummus from whoever that was set up on the right as we entered the food court. Bravo!
Hats off to the organizers. Whatever ticketing trouble they had Saturday night was solved today. They rolled with the punches on the rain and had volunteers well-prepared. There were plenty of tasting glasses (I believe they ran out last year), plus festival T-shirts and plenty of merchandise available for sale. Congrats to Free the Hops & Danner Kline on a great event. Cheers, and here's to next year.

EDIT (1:15 p.m., June 2): I've seen folks linking to this post from elsewhere on the Web, some of who are taking issue with my description of the festival as relatively well-run. Keep in mind, I'm describing my experience at the festival's Sunday session. We had a pretty darn good time.

We'd all ordered tickets ahead of time and arrived about 30 minutes before the festival began. There was no line when I walked up to the will-call window, and it took the volunteer there about 10 seconds to find my name on a list. She slapped a wristband on me, and then it was just a short wait before they cut the ribbon and the tasting began.

I know there was trouble Saturday night, and the organizers have admitted as much. While the rest of us were sleeping Saturday night, they stayed up looking for ways to make sure the same problems didn't happen again Sunday. It worked, at least from my perspective.

I know the committed volunteers who organized this event want constructive feedback so they can improve every year (even from one session to the next, as noted above). If you ran into problems on Sunday, please click below to comment. Let's talk it out.