And once again the festival season is upon us. As one of the people that helps put on the Boonville Beer Festival and a hard core Beer Geek (or as I prefer to be called a socially challenged beer enthusiast), who better to give you a few tips on attending The Boonville Beer Festival.
As any boy scout will tell you preparation is everything. In this festive season there is no way to prepare for all eventualities, but, there are a few things that you can do to insure a more pleasant Boonville Beer Festival.
The first and foremost of things to do is procure a safe and secure place of lodging. I’m not talking about that hedge behind the park like you found when you were 19, but a hotel, gasthaus, bed and breakfast or official camp site. This will be a home base for you. A place where you can safely store your stuff, meet your comrades and return to at the end of the day’s festivities. It will be a temporary sanctuary for you, a home away from home.
If you want a hotel room you need to make reservations yesterday. Boonville (and the Anderson Valley) is small and it has but a few lodging establishments and most of those sell out early. (check here: http://www.andersonvalley.org/ under lodging). There are inns as well as other options in the valley, check them all out – keep in mind that closer is better. Walking is always better than driving on this weekend.
Should there be no room at the inns, never fear there are several camp grounds nearby (Check here http://www.andersonvalley.org/ under camping).
I like Hendy Woods (http://www.yelp.com/biz/hendy-woods-state-park-philo) or Indian Creek. But the bulk of people camp at the Boonville County Fairgrounds next to the festival – it is close, convenient and it gives you ample opportunity to meet new people and make new friends (but be warned it is not quiet and peaceful like other campgrounds).
There is a free bus (donations welcome) that makes loops from the Beer Festival to Hendy Woods (and stops at all points needed in between) on the Saturday of the beer festival. And remember either walk or use a designated driver – because if you are intoxicated you almost certainly WILL get pulled over by the plethora of police that patrol the roads. And DUIs are not cool (in any way)
For the lucky few: Boonville has an air strip (check here http://www.andersonvalley.org/ under airport). But for most of us this is not an option (since there are no commercial flights). Driving is your best option to get to Boonville. Be warned the roads are curvy, the shoulders narrow, the drop offs precipitous. Drive to conditions and bring Dramamine (esp if you are a passenger). There are Bus transports from SF: http://breweryadventures.com/boonville-beer-festival-transportation and there is also the Mendocino MTA bus service (http://www.4mta.org/). And there is ride sharing too – post your request on Craigslist or some such site – at the very least ridesharing will be interesting.
Things to Take:
Are you camping? Tent, bedroll, water, food, aspirin (check, check, check, check, check). Oh yeah, and some extra money (no checks).
Eat food, not only during the celebration process but in the morning as well. The festival has food (and we have Slow Hand BBQ this year – 1st time ever) and there are a few good eating establishments in town (and a few “pop ups” on that weekend) but it is always a good idea to bring a little food of your own (you know, late night munchies, tent breakfast, snacks).
As we all know higher levels of alcohol consumption can deplete vitamins from your body. So …… pack lots of vitamins, especially the B-complex (brewer’s yeast supplement is a good source of B-complex). The best thing to do is to ingest your vitamin B-complex before you launch into your mission or at least before you go to bed. Drink lots of water throughout the day; at the festivities, at the end of the evening and upon waking.
Comfortable shoes and lots of clean socks; you are constantly on your feet at these events; talking, drinking, schmoozing, wandering about aimlessly. At the end of the day your dogs are gonna be hurting – unless you have some damn comfortable shoes. In addition there can be no overestimating the importance of clean socks. You may be hot, sweaty and spattered with swill. But if you slip your feet into a clean pair of socks your whole world changes, your total outlook on life is dramatically enhanced. No doubt about it – clean socks can make your day. A large supply aspirin will also make an excellent accompaniment for this outing.
Remember to pace yourself – this is a distance event
Right off the bat we need to get one thing straight. No howling - If you insist on participating in all that whooping & screaming you will instantly be branded as an amateur. You never see any of the really big, hard core, fest goers doing this howling foolishness. Examples: Garrett Oliver – never! Sam Calagione - never! Charlie Papazian – never! Why do you think the drinking age was raised to 21 anyway, it was because all the 19 year olds insisted on this howling & screaming nonsense! So cut the howling out or drinking age may get raised to 27.
Make new friends, the fest is filled with cool people and you all have at least one thing in common – beer, so introduce yourself and be friendly. Enjoy the music. The festival has multiple bands play throughout the day on multiple stages. These folks are here for you all to enjoy –give a listen, dance and be sure to clap.
There are a few other Emily Post considerations. No Intentional Glass Breaking or Glass Throwing – it is unacceptable behavior. No Dogs are allowed; at the Festival AND at the camp sites (so leave Rover at home for this weekend). No hitting – for any reason (hitting is uncool). No stealing of brewery signage or equipment (yah, you know who you are).
And should you run into a beer writer or brewer the proper thing to do is buy them several beers (and if at all possible take them out to dinner).
Other Good Sites
Fal Allen, brewmaster for Anderson Valley Brewing Company in Boonville, is currently quietly resting at home under medical supervision. He is not to be disturbed until it’s time to leave for The Boonville Beer Festival.