The Big LeBREWski

Just returned from this years Belgium Comes to Cooperstown (BCTC) beer fest at Brewery Ommegang, August 1 & 2, 2008, and once again it was awesome!

The Big LeBREWski

This year the fest even had a theme/nickname, The Big LeBREWski – crazy. Anyway, last year Robert and I went up and volunteered at this even and had a really great time. So this year we wanted to volunteer again. After several unforeseen turn of events we almost didn’t get to go, we didn’t even get an affirmative answer about volunteering until only four days before the event. But, we got in and had a blast, and I guess that’s really what matters. Sorry folks, no new pictures really this year, I forgot to take pictures worse than last year. There are only about five pictures and they are all of Robert and I drinking.

So Friday morning we packed up and made a few short stops and were on the road by 8AM. No real major delays and no real time restraints on the way up since our first (and only) volunteering shift wasn’t until 4PM on Saturday. We were hoping to be able to camp in the same area as last year, but instead we camped a little bit further away. In the long run this worked out just as well with us actually camping between Empire Brewing and a campsite full of local (PA) beer writers. Friday’s pace was way lazy because we didn’t have anything we had to do. We ate some lunch, we walked around, we drank some beer, we played cornhole, we walked around, we drank some beer, we played cornhole, we ate some dinner, we walked around, we drank some beer – – are you feeling the pace of the day yet? Good times to say the least. At 10:30ish they had planned on showing The Big Lebowski on a giant blow-up 60ish foot screen outside. It was ridiculous how big this thing was. So we brought up some lawn chairs, a box of Cheez-Its and a 2007 Three Philosophers to enjoy the movie. Now, I’ve seen the movie a few times before and have always thought it to be OK, but this was just freakin’ hilarious to watch the movie in this manner. After the movie we wound up doing the same: eatin’, walkin’, drinkin’ and wound back at out tent for the night.

Saturday morning came early being awoken to the sound of some idiots setting up three tents practically on top of ours at 5AM. If I would have had any energy at that point I would have strangled them, instead I was half passed-out and basically just drifted in and out listening to them talk loudly. Then around 6AM the rain started. Now, no one likes rain when they camp, it just changes things, but I am also not afraid of the rain, but I’ll tell you what – rain never sounds louder than when you are in a tent, for real. So it basically rained from 6-9AM, just enough to make everything pretty wet and for us to try and figure out what we would do if it kept raining (being trapped in your tent is also typically very boring). So, Saturday morning and early afternoon saw a lot of the same as Friday: eatin’, walkin’, drunkin’, and cornhole. The cornhole set was a huge hit. This year we set it up closer to our tent versus last year it was closer to the car, so there was a lot more foot traffic and a lot more, “can we get winners?” kind of thing. We actually left the sets set-up during the actual fest so that others could play from 6-8PM while we were stile volunteering if they wanted to, and they did.

Around 2PM we got ready to go in to the beer fest, there were so many good breweries we actually tried to strategically go to the booths we wanted to since we only had two hours and didn’t want to get blitzed before our shift. We got to try a lot of good stuff, I’ll try to remember some of my favorites, but for now just Russian River’s beers are standing out like a sore thumb. When we got on our shift, both Robert and I were suppose to poor for a brewery by the name of Old Burnside Brewing Company. Just about when we started one of the people we know from Stewart’s asked if one of us would pour for them since their volunteers didn’t show up and supposedly there is some law in NY about employees not being able to pour their own beer or something. So Robert stayed there and I poured for Stewart’s which I was actually more comfortable with, I knew the people and I knew their beer so I felt I could chat it up properly. It was actually quite fun pouring beer and feel like I missed out on that aspect a little bit last year. At 6PM we started breaking down the equipment and hauling it up to Stewart’s camp which was ridiculous. They had hooked up with several people and had a freakin’ compound. Several tents and RVs with lights, and disco balls, and a 20 foot projection screen that they were showing The Muppet Show and live Grateful Dead shows on, and had the Axis Munde in place – a 20 foot pole wrapped in lights – you couldn’t miss this place. Anyway, we helped Stewart’s and Stone Brewery breakdown and then the momentum kind of fell short. It was about 7PM and we couldn’t see another volunteer and there wasn’t anyone directing anyone on what to do next. We basically hung under the brewer’s tent for the next hour helping where we could, which wasn’t much.

After our shift, we scooped up our beer vouchers for our case of beer payment, which we couldn’t pick up until the following morning, and headed on back to the tent. Guess what we did? You got it: eatin’, walkin’, and drinkin’. We were just deciding on what to do for dinner, make it or buy it, when we were told that Iron Hill Brewery had cooked up a large amount of BBQ and that anyone in the area was invited. We headed down a little unsure, but sure enough Mark asked us to grab a plate and help ourselves. So a burger, beans, and some ribs later I was feeling much better. After that we hooked up with a few folks who met last year at BCTC and later have talked to on BeerAdvocate, MugHugger and HombreWing and went and bowled with them for a while. Oh yeah, did I forget to mention that a local bowling alley had donated pins and balls for lawn bowling to help flush out the Lebowski theme? After bowling I think we headed up to the Stewart’s compound and hung there for a few hours to finish the night.

Sunday morning was not my friend with me waking up not feeling like sunshine and with a long drive home still. After breaking down camp, sort of finding my face, and collecting our beer (Three Philosophers for Robert, Ommegang Abbey for me) we hit the road about 12PM. I was so “exhausted” that I couldn’t keep my eyes open and was half sleeping half not for most of the ride home. We stopped for food at one point and I figured that was going to be the make it or break it moment with the food either helping or hurting me. Fortunately for me I started to feel better, but also still couldn’t keep my eyes open which meant Robert was stuck driving all the way up and back. I felt like an ass, but I would have done the same for him. Plus, with traffic, rain, and accidents out five hour drive home took almost seven, lucky us.

To say that this is my favorite beer fest is an understatement. For the second year in a row I had a really great time and wish I had this kind of opportunity more often. Thanks Brewery Ommegang, and thanks Tara for helping us get in.

6 Responses to “The Big LeBREWski”

  1. Donna Says:

    So jealous. I just can’t talk “the man” into it. Next year I’m going to hide in the camping gear and go along for the trip.

  2. Alcohol Posts » The Big LeBREWski Says:

    […] Brian wrote a fantastic post today on “The Big LeBREWski”Here’s ONLY a quick extractJust returned from this years Belgium Comes to Cooperstown (BCTC) beer fest at Brewery Ommegang, August 1 & 2, 2008, and once again it was awesome! This year the fest even had a theme/nickname, The Big LeBREWski – crazy. … […]

  3. The Daver Says:

    Hey Guys! I missed you this year! I was sooooooooo wasted!

  4. David Says:

    WOW!! Sounds like you again had a blast.

    BTW – Cornhole – I have a yard now ! I can setup my set!

  5. Brian Says:

    Savor the Flavor of the Daver

    Dave – Yeah, I am going to try and bring your Cornhole set up with me on Sunday

  6. Craig from Milwaukee Says:

    Just another comment proclaiming my jealousy of you guys. Hopefully I can make it back to BCTC sometime. At least I have the Great Taste of the Midwest this weekend to keep my liver happy!!!

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