Japan has a lot of beer festivals, but any one city may only have one or two a year. (Tokyo excepted) Denver is a little different. There were two festivals just this past weekend, and two more this weekend. And then there are a few in August, and of course the big daddy of them all, the Great American Beer Festival, coming up in late September. This means that you don’t miss much if you can’t attend a specific festival. This meant that things weren’t very crowded, and were very relaxed.
Another big difference was the size of the pours. Most Japanese festivals offer full pours, pints and pints and pints of beer. Even if you do get a tasting set you usually end up with a sizable amount of beer in each glass. Here each attendee got a little four oz taster mug, and that was what we poured into. This lets you try a lot more beer, and do it without getting too inebriated. Though that isn’t to say that people don’t get plenty “happy.”
One of the beers we we were pouring at the Fiction booth was Waves and Ripples, which is a German goze. Goze are sour wheat beers with salt added during the boil. We also add lime juice, and the result ends up tasting a bit like a margarita that decided it wanted to try being a beer. In other words, it is a perfect drink for a hot summer afternoon, and was a big hit with almost everyone who tried it.
Even though I was working the booth, I did have the chance to wander the festival a bit, and see what everybody else had brought. There was a very wide variety of beers, including a Beer-a-misu tiramisu flavored beer that was shockingly good. My favorite was a pink peppercorn black lager from a place called Mockery Brewing. It was rich and flavorful with just a hint of pepper on the back end of your palate. I had never heard of Mocker before, but they are now on my list of places to visit!
Another thing that really made us feel good about the event was the charity nature. All the beer and all the time was donated, and so every dollar spent on admission and the silent auction went to charity. A lot of people there had been impacted by the Aurora theater shootings, and they were very happy to be seeing something positive come from the tragedy.
It was a bit different being on the other side of the tap handles, but the sense of friendliness that I got at many Japanese events came through just the same on this side of the Pacific Ocean. I had a great time pouring and exploring, and I look forward to more chances to do both.