Barley Mowat 

Farmhouse Fest

with 7 comments

So, I’ve been busy recently. You’ve probably noticed due to the lack of blog updates. Well, it’s for good reason folks, because I’m working on a side project that will directly benefit you. Why pimp my side project here? Well, what’s the point in even having a semi-popular beer blog unless I can shamelessly promote my other gigs on it?

If you’ve read any of my reviews of local beer festivals, you’re probably aware that I’m not exactly a fan. They tend towards the absurd, cramming hundreds (or thousands) of people into a fenced-off concrete-paved area, and serving them ordinary beer in tiny glasses. At least there’s usually a big cover charge to get in, so they have that going for them. Yet the attendees still find a way to get far too drunk.

“What did you think of that Pilsner?” “Blaaargh”

To be honest, it’s not all bad. If you’re new to craft beer, these festivals are a great way to familiarize yourself with the broad, dazzling array of offerings out there, all in a very short period of time. Plus, brewery representatives frequent these festivals so you can ask them about the beer on offer that day, or their other products.

At least, you could if the line behind you wasn’t shoving you out of the way because it’s Their Turn, Dammit! Or if the people at the booth actually were the brewery reps, or knew anything about the beer. In reality, they’re often just festival volunteers who are there to work a few hours then drink for free.

Just like how fast food workers are volunteering so they can eat and pay rent for free.

Fast forward a few hours and things get louder, drunker, and generally not my kind of party. Yes, I’m a snob, and yes, I’d like to be somewhere with excellent beer, small lines, and a pastoral setting in which I can sip my beer out of a non-shitty glass without someone jostling me hard enough for my monocle to fall out, and into my beer.

That’s fine, I guess. It’s been pointed out that beer festivals aren’t really intended to be for people like me, and that there are a lot more people like that than like me. I get it, and accept it, but really I just want a festival that’s more geared at the high end beer geek.

No such place exists. Until now. I’ve teamed up with five other local beer geeks who are just as frustrated with the local scene to create our own festival. We were going to call it Horse Blanket, because we’re esoteric and cool and whatnot, until someone Googled “Farmhouse Fest” and found out that all the domains/handles were free. Farmhouse Fest it is, then.

The people serving you the beer will be from the brewery. The beer in your glass will be interesting, unique or awesome, or quite probably, all of the above. The glass itself won’t suck. The location will be the UBC Farm because, let’s face it, everything is better on a farm.

Including, uh, whatever the hell this is.

Actually, let’s talk about the farm a bit more. The main thing going out to UBC gets us is space. Huge spaces. With trees. And orchards. Look at our Facebook page, and you’ll see what we’re talking about. Thus, instead of a tiny hall crammed with brewery serving tables all lined up in a row, at Farmhouse Fest you’ll see individual tents with quite a bit of space between them. Room to breathe. Room to set up picnic tables and barrels, or to spread out a picnic blanket. We’re serious about that—it’s a nice field and there will be lots of open space, so slow down and enjoy yourself and your awesome beer.

I could rant a bit more about why it’ll be awesome, or you could just go read the damned website already. I wrote most of it, so it’s basically like Bonus Blog. Tickets will be going on sale at noon today, which should be right around now. Click here to buy ‘em. Best do it fast, though, because there aren’t very many of them.

Aside: Yes, those are fifty dollar tickets. Yes, that might seem a bit higher than the other festivals you’ve been to. No, I don’t think that’s too high. Did you read all that hot air above about space? You know what space is made of? It’s composed primarily of absent ticket-purchasing festival goers, and YOU have to pick up their slack. Frankly, having seen the finances, I’m surprised by how low we managed to keep that price, given our very low ticket cap (by local festival standards) and the extremely high cost of some of the beer we’ll be serving.

Written by chuck

March 23rd, 2015 at 11:01 am

Posted in Beer and You

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7 Responses to 'Farmhouse Fest'

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  1. Great idea! I won’t have to fight crowds with my elbows to get from sample-to-sample. My inner beer geek will be coming out for sure.

    Alex

    23 Mar 15 at 14:42

  2. We’d like it a lot better if your outer beer geek came as well… and brought friends 🙂

    chuck

    23 Mar 15 at 15:14

  3. I would welcome you to the beer festival scene but it seems you would rather slag other festival to further your own cause and act like a dick about it.

    Gerry

    24 Mar 15 at 12:03

  4. Hi Gerry,

    First, thanks for reading and commenting.

    Second, for long time readers of this blog, it comes as no surprise that I have a long list of gripes when it comes to local beer fests. To then have me come out and say “but I’m throwing one, and it’ll be awesome” would ring a little untrue, hence this article. You see, I have to actually defend my position of liking something, and that means going over all the things I’ve gone on record as not liking and talking about how this festival is different.

    I try hard above to keep things unspecific by not naming individual festivals and instead focusing on general festival traits that I am not a fan of. I also keep things in the form of personal opinion. As I said above, I’m a snob, and I don’t like a lot of things that lots of people do like. In fact, a good portion of my reason for getting involved in Farmhouse Fest was the realization, provided to me by someone involved with bigger beer fests, that “these festivals aren’t for people like you and me, Chuck.” So, I figured, why not create a festival that IS for people like me?

    So, with all of that in mind, and in a sense of fairness, please allow me to now list some things that other festivals do better than Farmhouse Fest. Sure, it’s not compelling advertising, but it is honest.

    1. Selection. As a small festival, Farmhouse Fest simply can’t compete with the big boys for raw selection of beers on offer. This goes for both raw numbers of beers as well as styles. Being style-selective means that hard core lager- and hops-heads will definitely not like FF.

    2. Casks. We’re not doing them. We don’t have access to the location long enough in advance to let the casks settle out, and being outside will make temperature control a pain, so rather than compromise on the experience we made the decision to nix them. Other festivals, especially cask-forward ones, generally have these problems solved.

    3. Location. UBC Farm is a great venue, and it’s a lovely place to spend an afternoon, but it’s also way the hell out there. Some local fests are a 5 minute cab ride from downtown, and that is a convenience that cannot be understated in a booze-themed festival.

    4. Cost. Yup, FF is pricey, all things considered. A number of things go into that price, and we think it’s a good value, but at the end of the day the number is simply higher.

    5. Atmosphere. Those lines and crowds I bitched about up there? Well, some people LIKE that. It’s called a “fun, energetic atmosphere.” It’s why more people go to bars then to poetry recitals. Sitting around on a picnic blanket with a bunch of bearded yeast nerds geeking out over an ale with a pH of 4.2, all while a tattooed hipster plays banjo in the background might sound pretty sweet to me, but to a lot of people that’s basically hell on earth.

    6. Weather. Some of the other festivals are indoors. FF isn’t. That means it’ll rain like we’re in Malaysia, I just know it.

    7. Few fuck-ups. The established festivals have teams of dedicated organizers who’ve done this stuff a million times, and veritable army of experienced volunteers to back them up. While the folks behind FF might be passionate, we’ve actually never run a beer fest of this size before. In all likelihood we’ll make some rookie mistakes and screw things up.

    So there you go. A more balanced view, but not exactly a great argument for why Farmhouse Fest will be great.

    [Edited for truthiness]

    chuck

    25 Mar 15 at 09:58

  5. But Chuck, for 50 samolians I can buy lots of beer and drink it at home where it is generally dry and without the worry of developing an intense beard allergy. Unless food and dancing girls? Dancing food?

    Coniferous Gloom

    27 Mar 15 at 22:49

  6. For what it’s worth, I think it’s always great to see when someone complains about something and then actually does something about it. The price is still pretty reasonable when you look at total cost of attendance. Good on you folks for trying something different.

  7. Chris B

    16 Apr 15 at 00:48

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