Monday, August 22, 2011

Stone 15th Anniversary Celebration

You can tell a lot about a person by the clothes they choose to wear, especially at a beer event. On Saturday, I attended my first beer event: Stone's 15th Anniversary Celebration. I was pretty excited for the beer (over 40 breweries showed up with over 100 different beers), but one of the more interesting side plots had to be the people who show up to these events and the clothes they chose to wear, right? Right? Maybe I'm the only one.

The day before the event, I began planning what I was going to wear (trust me, that's rare for me). As this was my first beer event, I had no idea what appropriate attire would be. Would it be sacrilege to wear another brewery's shirt to a party thrown by Stone? Would I look like a twit if I wore sandals? I had no idea. In the end, I opted for comfort and dressed for the weather, going with a polo shirt, shorts and shoes. My girlfriend and our friend, Brian, attended the event with me and chose pretty much the same path. Nothing too fancy, but something that would keep us cool if the weather got as hot as some were expecting.

The event was held on the campus of Cal State San Marcos and sprawled the length of their grassy quad. Breweries were given individual stations where people could visit for tasters of their beer. Most of the breweries were either local or from other parts of California, but a few breweries from other states and even out of the country showed up, including Belgium's Urthel and Duvel. There was even cider and mead at the event, with a wide selection from Julian Hard Cider, Wandering Aengus, Crispin and Redstone Meadery. As it turned out, the fashion of the beer lovers in attendance was just as varied as the choices of beverage. I've been thinking a lot over the past few days, and I can now definitively break those in attendance down into the following categories.

1. The Beer Geeks: I know what you're saying: "It's a beer event. Wasn't everyone there a beer geek?" No, and I'll get to that later. The beer geeks at this event typically wore shirts from breweries in the area (The Bruery shirts were all over the place) and could be seen jotting down notes left and right.

2. The Beer Nerds: There's a difference! Beer nerds think they're way more into brewing than beer geeks and like to wear shirts from obscure breweries that don't distribute to California. Their shirts are automatic conversation pieces for other beer nerds and they are commonly seen pointing out each others shirts and whiffing on high fives.

3. The Straight-Up Nerds: I didn't see many at this event, but one stood out. He was wearing a Utili-kilt (a modern day kilt company. The company's slogan is: "Call it a skirt and ye'll feel the back of my hand) and a shirt that said: "The liver must be punished!" I loved this guy.

4: The Die-Hard Stone Fans: There were a fair amount of true Stone fans at the event, most of them wearing shirts from previous Stone Anniversary celebrations. Interestingly enough, almost none of these people were seen getting their tasters filled at the Stone tents.

5: The Beer Lovers: This was effectively everyone else (and probably 80% of people there) at the event. I'm grouping everyone else, including me, in this class. The beer lovers in attendance weren't wearing things that clearly distinguished them as that, but I figure that you have to love beer to a certain degree to want to pay to attend an event like this.

While cliques usually emerge in events (ie. the beer nerds only hanging out with beer nerds), it was nice to see everyone getting along and enjoying good beer. Die-Hard Stone Fans were talking to Beer Nerds and Beer Geeks were talking to Beer Lovers. It was a great event, and one that I definitely plan on attending again next year. I may even go to the next one in Beer Geek attire.

Top 100 Beers Tasted: 26

Note: Two of the beers I tasted at the even were in the Top 100. Reviews on those to come soon.

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