Today I'm proud to announce that this little beer blog celebrated it's 1st year anniversary yesterday. And what better way to celebrate the occasion than by attending the 2008 Great American Beer Festival in Denver last night. I volunteered to help set-up and worked 3 four-hour shifts at the Colorado Convention Center yesterday and all I can say is - WOW - there is a LOT of work to be done to get this event ready for prime time.
My day started early for me. I woke up around 5:30am to get ready. I live an hour north of Denver and had to hit the road by 6:15am if I was to get downtown in plenty of time to report for duty. I made a quick stop at Micky D's to buy some breakfast and headed down US 85 to Denver. Traffic wasn't bad and I found a nice parking spot just 2 blocks away from the Convention Center. I found the volunteer desk and checked in around 7:50am and entered the great hall.
The place had already had a lot of work done to it. The booths and tables were already set up and the CO2 gas lines and the giant plastic barrels that would house the kegs were there waiting for the beer to be delivered. We had several work crew Captains there organizing the crew. We must have had over 30 volunteers there to do the set-up work. Here is how the day went for me.
8:00am Gather round and get instructions from the crew Captains.
8:20-10:00am Receiving kegs from the fork lift crew and label them. Split off the duplicate kegs for storage on trucks in the loading docks. Deliver kegs to the booths and put them in plastic barrels. Lots of heavy lifting and use of dollys to transport brew.
10:00-10:15am Break time. Grab some water. Helped the folks from Alaskan Brewing to set up their booth and get to know them.
10:15pm - 12:15pm Ice delivery. Receive crate after crate of ice bags and deliver them to each booth and apply initial ice down all of the kegs. Lots of cold lifting and throwing of bags.
12:15-1:00pm Lunch time! People who were signed up for working a double set-up shift were given complimentary pizza and soft drinks for lunch. We sat inside the vendor booths to eat.
1:00-3:00pm Time to hook up all of the kegs to the tap lines and CO2. This was a massive undertaking. I had a crash course in keg tap technology. There were miles of hoses and 1800 different kegs to be hooked up. Not an easy task. Many of the hose lines were tangled up and had to be straightened out. In one rare event, I saw a beer line hooked up to the CO2 line and that made a mess. We figured it all out eventually.
3:00-4:00pm More ice. Just when you think you were done with the ice you had to ice all of the keg barrels down again. Those 1st bags melt fast. Once the kegs were hooked up we had to ice them down again and fill up the barrels to the top.
4:00-5:00pm Troubleshooting time. We had to inspect every booth and look for problems. There were missing kegs, broken ice barrels that leaked, CO2 lines that needed fixing, more ice to be delivered, tables to be moved into place. Whew! Now everything looked ready to go. Trying to find a missing keg amongst a thousand kegs in the back was no easy task. They had a whole crew dedicated to sorting kegs in the storage trucks.
5:00-5:30pm Once everything was ready I had to check out from set-up duty, get my free comp tickets and then race downstairs to check-in for Brew Crew (pouring) duty. I received my white volunteer T-shirt and tasting cup and marched back upstairs with an army of volunteers and reported to our sections. I was assigned to Island "C" in the Mid Atlantic region. Since I was a bit late checking in for 3rd shift I took a spot at the only brewery that wasn't already loaded with volunteers.
5:30pm-10:00pm Pour beer! The sound of bagpipes filled the air signaling the start of the 2008 GABF. The crowd poured into the hall and the festival began. I was working at the Allentown / Bethlehem Brew Works booth (C14). They had 5 different brews including an amazing Pumpkin Ale, an outrageous Blueberry Belch wheat beer and a delicious sour Belgian Raspberry Lambic called Framboise. This was the first brewery as you entered the aisle and it got a lot of traffic. I was kept busy for a very long time.
I can tell you that after working for 14 hours that I was dog tired. My muscles hurt from all that lifting of kegs, ice and moving tables and standing on my feet all day. But, overall I was very pleased with how well organized the whole event was and how smoothly things went. The crowd behaved themselves for the most part and even the drunks weren't too obnoxious. I was able to get out of the building shortly after 10pm and get back home within an hour and a half.
I managed to take a lot of video during the day and hope to put together a short report on all that sometime in the next week. I'm planning to return to Denver later this weekend to actually do some tasting sessions! I only managed to try about 8 beers last night while volunteering but that's OK. I needed to stay sober and alert to handle the non-stop pouring of beers.
I did manage to see several people I recognized last night and hope to spend more time with them later this weekend. It was a wonderful way to celebrate the 1 year anniversary of Fermentedly Challenged. Thanks to everyone who come and read this blog. It's been great getting to know a lot of people through the Internet and in person during this last year. Over 200 posts, over 200 different beers sampled and 4 brewfests during the last year kept me very busy. I hope the next year is just as fun.
Continue on with: Behind the scenes video 2008 GABF.
- Fermentedly Challenged Video #001.
- The people you meet at the GABF.
- 2008 GABF video tasting notes.
- Hot picks from the 2009 GABF (tasting notes).
This article came from FermentedlyChallenged.com
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