Thursday, October 30, 2014

How to Have a Blast at Casks & Caskets

This weekend, the Wild West of beer sets up shop in Oshkosh. The Society of Oshkosh Brewers Cask & Caskets festival is Saturday night. If you’re going, you’ll encounter a beer selection like you’ve never seen before. It’s not like going to one of those places that sports an outrageous number of taps. At those places, there’s a ring of familiarity to most everything you’re offered. At Casks, an outrageous number of taps will be offered, but you won’t know a damned thing about any of the beers until you let them pass through your lips. Don’t let that worry you. It’s easy to master this funhouse of beer. Here’s how.

Ask Questions
Let’s say you walk up to one of the serving tables and encounter a beer with a name like Electric Lollipop. What the hell is that? Just ask the brewer. That'll be the person pouring you the beer. And they will be more than happy to tell you all about it (in excruciating detail). You’ll find many of these homebrewers to be loquacious to a fault. And if they won’t shut up, tell them to cork the chatter and pour the beer. They won’t mind. I know this crowd. Believe me, you won’t be the first person to have told them to pipe down.

Be Adventurous
You ask one of the brewers about their beer and he or she tells you it has bananas in it. Just because you’ve never tasted a beer with bananas in it is no good reason not to try one now. You may never have this opportunity again. It may turn out to be the best beer you’ve ever tasted. You’ll be surprised by what some of these folks are able to do with offbeat ingredients. A lot of these brewers tossed their beer-style books out the window years ago. What they shoot for are flavors that are unique and delicious. They’re a creative bunch. Go with the flow and indulge in a world of beer you’ve never encountered before.

Don’t Feel Committed
One of the brewers pours you a beer and it’s just not your thing. No big deal, it happens. Pour it out and move on to the next adventure. Nobody will take offense. Remember, these are folks who refer to themselves as SOBs. Some of the more perverse among them might see you heading for the dump bucket and consider it a compliment. Go figure.

Go Easy
The beers at Casks tend to be a bit stronger than your standard commercial beers. Homebrewers like to push the limits and ABV is one of those things they pay little heed to. It’s just something to keep in mind. Sunday morning is going to come. You don’t want it to hurt, too much.

Enjoy Yourself
That’s the most important thing. This is a rare event we’ll partake in. At some point in the evening step back and take it all in. Consider how lucky we are, all of us there together, enjoying this special thing that few of our type will ever experience. It’s going to be a great night.

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