This year, I went to the Knoxville Brewer’s Jam for the first time in my nearly nine years in Knoxville (this was its 13th year). I can’t help calling it the beerfest, thanks to that movie I didn’t have an adequate pain threshold to watch. I’m usually too cheap to spring $25 to go drink beer, my general philosophy being that I could get a lot more beer to drink in the comfort of my own home for $25 than I’d get milling about like a cow with a bunch of other drunken cows for the same price. And all in all, I think my instinct has been more or less right, except that you can find beers at this event that you won’t find on a daily basis, and I’m less likely to see a guy in lederhosen in my house unless I’ve drunk really entirely too much beer and chased it with some hallucinogens.
I was on a mission today to try stout beers, and I was really disappointed that there weren’t more. I’ve been turned on lately to the Highland Brewery’s oatmeal porter, which I can get at my local Kroger, and I had high hopes for their stout, but they didn’t bring any. I had their Gaelic ale instead, and it was good but was no stout. I was delighted to find that Rogue Ales had a booth, and I had two glasses of their Shakespeare Stout (which I had previously had and really liked at Barley’s here in Knoxville), but I was disappointed that they didn’t have any of their Chocolate Stout, which would have been a new one to me. Probably my most memorable beer of the day was the Duck-Rabbit Craft Brewery’s milk stout, which is brewed with highly toasted hops and lactose, which gives the beer a slightly milky smell (unless my olfactory sense was tricked by my reading the blurb) and a very slight sweetness that balances the toasted hops very nicely (that’s how Dave put it, at least, and it sounded about right to me). I liked this one enough that I wrote the brewer a quick note when I got home.
I tried a number of pale ales and IPAs and one ESB, and I was generally pretty cold to them. Some were decent, but a number of them had a flatness to them that just made them not very interesting to me.
Even with pre-purchased tickets, we had to wait in a 45-minute line to get into the event, and though I didn’t have to wait in line for my first beer, lines got harder to manage as more people arrived and especially as brewers started running out of beer and the choices narrowed. After about three hours, it became unpleasant to weave through the crowd and stand in line with increasingly glazed-eyed people jockeying for positions in the decreasingly available queues. I’m glad I went, and I enjoyed it (in spite of a near-altercation in the porta-potty line the end result of which was my basically sprinting to get to the john before a guy in what can properly be called nothing other than a non-event-sanctioned stealth line got there, enough to his chagrin that I emerged from the potty prepared thankfully in vain both to receive and administer a punch, my alternative after negotiating the 20-minute bathroom line being to stand there a grown man and piss my corduroy pants, which dire straits made running to the potty no small feat, let me tell you). Chances are good that I’ll go again. But honestly, I’d probably rather spend $25 on micro-brews and invite a few friends to bring $25 worth of microbrews apiece over and sit in the comfort of my own home to try them out.