Henry Griggs Rambling
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Virginia Beer Festival 2003
If you're looking for the official web site with the details of the 2004 event - click here.
17th May 2003
I wasn't sure about the arrangements, but soon got sorted out with the tickets. $20 to get in, and you get a small beer glass, a tasting size beer glass, nicely etched with the Festival details. Once you had your glass, you lined up and it was all you could drink.
I met Doug inside. It was crowded. To the left, there were five booths with local beer. To the right, there were seven or eight booths with beers from further afield. The lines on the non-local booths were pretty big, so we started with the local beers.
As well as beer booths, there were a few food booths and there was the obligatory cigar booth. This was the day for beer and cigars. So many people chewing on huge fat cigars.
It was dull and overcast, with a few drops of rain, and it was cold. I was all rugged up, as I usually am even in summer, but Doug was wearing shorts. After the first ten beers, neither of us was feeling the cold or the rain. There was a band on the stage, pumping out old rock. Guitarist also played flute, but spared us old Jethro Tull numbers.
A small crowd started to gather in front of the stage, but it wasn't from appreciation of the band. It was to get out of the drizzle.
We went through the local breweries - Williamsberg Brewery, Hilltop Brewery, Old Dominion Brewery and the St George Brewery. We were after strong tasting beers, so we were drinking wheat beers and porters, and ale or lager or pilsener if that was all they had. The Old Dominion brewery had three beers that were all really good. We had quite a few of theirs.
Note I went looking for web sites of local breweries and found this compendium of Virginia Breweries. I'm going to have to try and sample all the beers from all these breweries.
After we got through the local breweries, we headed to the non-local side and lined up for the Abita Brewing Company. This is a Louisiana brewery and I've had their beers before - TurboDog and Purple Haze. We knew the pourers - Heidi and Lisa from work. I waited till they were busy with a barrel to get a photo of them.
I had the TurboDog and a Wefheisen from some other brewery, then a Smuttytongue Old Brown Dog. The lines were long and as soon as we got one beer we joined another line and drank while getting ready for another sample.
The old band left and a new band came on stage. Take one punk band, add a few kilts and a female fiddler, call them Celtic and you have the Jeff Greer Band. They play at the White Horse Pub. Energetic and fun. I bought their cd. The only down side was the last song they played for the day. I can live quite happily if I never hear "The Devil Went Down to Georgia" again. Just becauise there's a fiddle-player in a band doesn't mean that it's obligatory to play Devil-Georgia. However, the drunken rednecks in the thinning crowd loved it.
Doug liked the band. And Doug liked taking photos. Here he is trying for an up-the-kilt photo of the band.
By about 5:00, it was cold and wet. The crowd was thinning. There were no more lines. You rolled up to a booth and instantly got beer.
By 5:30pm, some of the breweries had run out. St George was finished. We had consumed a lot of beer. Surprisingly, we were still standing and were still reasonably lucid. Here's Doug, standing straight, with camera in hand. He took a lot of photos.