A new festival, featuring 37 barrel aged beers, a ton of raffle prizes (to benefit the Washington, IL tornado victims) and a big, roomy location? What could possibly go wrong?
Since this was hyped a bit, I decided to arrive at about 11:30 AM to get a seat somewhere. The website said they opened at 10 AM, but upon getting to the door, a taped up sign stating they would open at noon greeted me. So I went back to my car to wait in the warmth until about 11:55.
Returning then, I was met with a small line to get in (about 10-20 people). Noon came, they let us in, and I snagged a booth (friends were on their way). My waitress greeted me with a food menu, the list of beers that would be available, and a list of the raffle items.
I looked up and, on the two TV’s above me, were the current draft offerings. With 37 barrel aged beers – many of which I wanted to try – I began by ordering 4 ounces of the Boy Gene from Revolution. After finishing that (and finding out there was a water jug I had to get water from instead of getting it from the waitress), I went for 4 ounces each of Lagunitas’ BA Rye Cappucino Stout and the Moa Imperial BB Stout aged in Pinot Noir barrels.
My friend showed up at this point (around 12:45). I recommended to him getting the Lagunitas and I ordered the barrel aged Cabra Perdida from Greenbush (and finally got up to get water). The raffle ticket volunteer came around, we bought some, and waited for some new beers to show up.
And waited. And waited. More people kept showing up. I (at around 3) decided to order the Atlas BB Glasgow Kiss Scotch Ale (4 ounces, of course). Some people asked us if we wouldn’t mind moving in so they could sit down (we still had a friend coming). And then waited some more.
I was told, at various times, new taps would be up at 2. Then maybe 3. Then when the beer kicked (which would take time due to many getting 4 ounce pours). So we waited.
Another friend showed up. I kept drinking water.
At 4, we (as a group) decided we’d had enough and would close out. Right after we paid, 2 (yes, only 2) new beers were added to the taps. So, over the course of 4 hours, 2 new beers were added. We (along with a bunch of people I recognized from Riverview) decided to go to Village Tap and have some Hopslam on tap. At this point there was a line of about 10 people waiting to get in.
This was the first year of the event and it was for a good cause, so growing pains are to be expected. I assumed the problem would be due to overcrowding (which it kind of did eventually), but when I get a list of beers that will be available, and am there for 4 hours and didn’t get to try any of Black Note, Brickstone Dark Secret Imperial Stout, St. Dekkera Blueberry Sour, Parabola, Cherry Rye, Baudoinia, Deth’s Tar, Blue Gene, or Misanthrope (plus whatever other beers might have struck my fancy), I get put off. I came ready to drink for hours, but instead only had five 4 ounce pours over the course of 4 hours.
The owner has already come out and said there were some problems (staff being overwhelmed and shorting on the 4 ounce pours as well, neither of which I experienced) and I fully expect this to be a much superior Festibarrel next year. I will gladly attend next year if I am able to, but I won’t wait around as long for the taps to change.