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Monday, December 04, 2006

Holiday Ale Festival - The Scrum for Jim

I intend to put up a fuller report on the HAF later today or tomorrow, including video. However, as I'm feeling a little remiss in not getting something up sooner, here is an interim anecdote.

As with many brewfests, the HAF has only a limited number of kegs. The summer OBF handles this by allotting a certain number of kegs to each day, but HAF refined this system and divided kegs up into two batches, afternoon and evening. So, moments after getting my first beer at 1:30, the Fest slapped up a sign on Hair of the Dog's Jim saying that it would be pouring again at 5. I decided to hang around until then and zip back in for a last nip before heading home, and so at about a quarter til, I (and two friends) made our way through the extremely packed crowd.

(Sidebar: It was easily the most packed I've ever seen the Holiday Ale Fest, and perhaps more crowded than even the OBF on Friday night. The crowd was shoulder-to-shoulder and there were literally times when an entire knot of bodies had to time their move to make way for passing drinkers. The crowd was racous and jovial and everyone seemed to take this in stride. Sally, off at the St. Feuillien tap late in the day, spoke to a bug-eyed Minnesota dad who was visiting with his daughter. Remarked he: "I've never seen anything like this. People really take their beer seriously here.")

So we started back into the scrum. Inelegantly, a group of tables had been placed at the center of the main tent, and these tended to gum up the movement even more. Opposite them was, somewhere in the throng, a line to the not-yet-on-tap Jim. When we finally made it to the right side of the tent, we discovered that most of the people were also waiting for Jim and ushering others through to get different beers. So as five crept slowly toward us, the crowd became more and more densely packed with Jim-waiters. Eventually the chants for "Jim, Jim, Jim" began and it looked like the crowd might rush the tap (in one slow, many-legged push).

The wait endured past five and the crowd grew more spirited. By about eight after, a guy came out and, with theatrical flourish, removed the "back at 5 pm" sign. A cheer went up. We pressed closer, mug-ended arms forward. One by one, we got our elixir and began making our way back into the crowd. By 5:22, all the Jim was gone.

Was it any good? Stay tuned--


  1. Can you break down the math of how a keg empties in 14 minutes? Was it a 1/4 or 1/2 bbl keg? How many ounces per serving? How many drops spilled onto the ground? Your description leaves too many unanswered questions!

  2. No idea. I can't even confirm the times, because the crowd was too dense to get anywhere near the taps and see what was actually going on. The process they used was to decant into a pitcher and then fill mugs from there. It's possible the reason they didn't have Jim available exactly at five is because they were pre-filling pitchers.

  3. I was there Saturday from about 12-3. It was much busier this year at that time (must have been the weather) but only a few minute wait in most lines. There was no one in line for Jim when I went to get some... that was my last beer for the day, felt like a good place to stop.