While I enjoyed being involved in setting up for the Firkin Fest at the Green Dragon, I can't escape the sense that there is nobody there that is really enthusiastic about it. I'm open to the idea that my perceptions are misguided, but I felt that the organization of the event, the publicity, and the follow through in producing acceptable printed information for the punters was lacking.Ted's right: cask ale has yet to find its base. I know of three people in the world who consider cask indispensable, and I infer from the way Deschutes handles it that there are more. Add the assorted hundreds I don't know about and you have ... hundreds. In a city where you can't swing a dead cat without knocking over an imperial IPA, hundreds is a rounding error. So we beggars showed up at the Firkin Fest thankful for its existence, and thankful for the handful of really outstanding beers: Hopworks, Double Mountain, Brewers Union, Block 15, and Deschutes all spring to mind. We don't complain. Anytime 20 casks of real ale are collected together, we gather in appreciation.
But the critiques are warranted. The event was a dissipated affair, as if Rogue couldn't really get that excited about it. The rigid structure, the strange food arrangement, the now-unnecessary two sessions (which arose when the tiny Victory Bar first hosted it), and the dwindling number of beers were all a little depressing. Which itself was depressing: how can you expect cask ale to catch fire if the only fest is weighted by a wet blanket?
Not that I'm complaining!
Update. Patrick, with whom I attended the fest, also has thoughts.
The 2011 edition of the Firkin Fest was, I'll have to admit, a bit of a disappointment. Let me be clear, it is still one of my favorite beer events, but this year instead of the great leap forward I expected, I think it went a step in the wrong direction.That I failed to check Beeronomics before writing this post will earn me no end of (well-deserved) opprobrium, not least because this post is an inadvertent echo of his. Except that his deploys the word "arbitrage," which I regret never using enough. If you click through in sufficient numbers, he may forgive me.