Fort Collins: The Dark Calculus of the Colorado Brewer’s Festival, Act I

Saturday, June 29th, 2019. Fort Collins, Colorado.

We approached the towering stadium and got shunted by some dismissive “USE WEST ENTRANCE” signs around the perimeter of the beast. We made the walk carrying all our present worldly possessions on our backs, which left us sunstricken, dry, and somewhat bitchy.

George R. R. Martin stood behind a folding plastic table, grinning with the same malice that spawned the Red Wedding. He was missing his signature cap. I presumed it was in mourning for what D&D did to season 8.

“Hey, where do we check our bags?” I asked.

“You can’t go in,” he said. “There’s no bags in the stadium.”

“Yes,” I agreed. “Where should I check them?”

“You can’t have bags in there.”

I nodded sagely. “You’re right.”

“I called ahead about this,” Ladygirl said. “They told me to tell you in the line, and you would send us to the VIP tent, where we can check our bags?”

GRRM stared at her blankly, then shook his bulbous, hoary head.

“I’d walk around to the other side of the stadium and ask the security guards,” he said. “That’s all I could think to tell you, but they’re going to say the same thing.”

We walked eight steps before Ladygirl pointed at the VIP tent almost immediately behind the hirsute pile of grimdark fantasy author.

“Hi, do we check our bags here?” Ladygirl asked.

“You sure do!” said a highly enthusiastic young man from behind the little plastic table. He and his companion clarified for us, again and again, with an enthusiasm that could only come of a hearty pre-festival sampling party, that there were no bags allowed in the building BUT they would be happy to hold our bags in bag check to be collected after the festival.

We surrendered our belongings and pushed forth into the mercifully air-conditioned interior of Canvas Stadium.

They immediately handed us our glasses and explained we can have as many samples from as many breweries as we wanted, so long as they all went into their branded 4 oz cup.

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I had inoculated against altitude sickness by eating a truly grotesque quantity of salt every meal since the plane touched down. Signs all over Colorado proudly indicated they were “BREWING THE NEW WEST!”. I was ready to git along, li’l doggie.

My skin was dry, my blood pressure high;
should the gods decree this the day that I die,
plant me here on the spot, as so that my
bones will join earth’s jagged spine
and forever the Rockies then occupy.

*snap snap snap snap*

I grabbed a quick 4 oz from the first stand I saw and gazed down over what I thought was the rest of the fest.

It turned out to be a quarter the rest of the fest. Everything else was up on level 4. I wouldn’t learn this until I’d already done two circuits of the ground floor.

A nine-foot-tall Nordic hill giant stood behind a bright red stand that advised me to “drink like a German!” I tried the lager, which was all right. We prost’ed and I moved along.

After eight or nine samples, I was beginning to feel somewhat loosey goosey. Ladygirl and I took refuge in two of three adirondack chairs. We were joined by another attendant, who was also wearing a red shirt.

“I did it on purpose,” he said. “So the bartenders would notice me and I’d get served first.”

“My sentiments exactly,” I said, pointing at my own red shirt.

“I just like this color,” Ladygirl said of her own.

Our new friend and founding member of red shirt gang gang sent us to find a peanut butter porter on the far side of the floor. I asked a girl behind a counter if she had that and she informed me, unfortunately, she did not. I promised I’d be back for her and she told me she would be waiting, quietly crying, until my return.

In a way, we both lied. She was gone when I circled back around, but I still tried whatever spiked seltzer thing her stand was pushing.

Ladygirl and I got separated, and then both independently discovered the 4th floor, where we remained separated until the sequel.

The Colorado Brewer’s Festival totaled two and a half floors of beer stands, along with several opportunities to step out onto balconies and dehydrate in the brutal Western sun. Attached to that link is a .pdf that lays out an abridged list of beers available on the 29th.

I know for a fact I tried at least two beers per stand over the four hours I was at the festival. There are 38 stands listed. Depending on how inebriated each stand attendant was (there were a few who were visibly blacked out), they would dispense between 2 and 4 ounces of your chosen beer.

Thirty six stands (I skipped the Coor’s and Blue Moon stands) times two beers = 72 samples. No sample was less than 2 oz, and though many were 4, it trended toward the lower side; let’s call it between 2.5 oz per sample.

That’s 180 oz, or 1.42 gallons of beer at a minimum, none of which is paleo.

180 oz over the course of four hours is 45 oz/hr, or roughly a pint every twenty minutes.

I don’t know which god was with me. Probably not Athena. She’s too classy for this. Maybe Odin, or Eris, or Baron Samedi. Yog-Sothoth or Sheogorath. Whoever it was, they fortified my body and spirit. Altitude sickness never took hold, and I remained sober enough to recognize the blackout drunkenness of the participants and purveyors around me.

Or so I flattered myself, until I took the elevator to level four.


The Bastard



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