The New Vista Brew’s Best Beer Festival was my first purely beer-centered festival. While I’ve been to many wine tastings and festivals that also had breweries present, this was the first time I’d been to an event that was totally sans wine.

The Brew’s Best Beer Festival is a twice-annual event sponsored and hosted by New Vista, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that supports the needs of the intellectually disabled.  They have special events, training programs, and more for those who are in need. They also sponsor several adult-centered affairs, including the now-legendary Wine Walk, and the Brew’s Best Beer Festival. The events are always well run, and they get amazing support from the breweries, restaurants, wineries, and hotels who offer their products and services in order to help raise money for New Vista.  Please check out the New Vista website and volunteer or donate if you can. And support those businesses who have come out to share their goods with the community!

“So, Irene,” you’re probably saying. “You’re a wine person. You don’t know anything about beer!”

Au contraire, mon amis!

First, I’ll give you my brief beer autobiography.  I used to dislike beer. The modern industrial insipid foamy detritus that passes for beer in this country had, as it had for many others, turned me away from beer.  If that’s the only beer you ever see or taste and it’s not very good, well… The only relief in that bleak landscape was – don’t laugh – Pabst Blue Ribbon Dark. Wow. A beer with color. And something akin to flavor. Do they still make it? Probably not, I’m guessing.

About fifteen or so years ago the day job sent me to Denver for a training conference for several days. While there, I went to a downtown restaurant called Rock Bottom Brewery.  Someone had said that they had really good food and were a “microbrewery” with “hand-crafted beers.”  Whatever that was.

Anyway, my waitress asked if I wanted to have some beer. When I replied that I didn’t like beer, her facial expression changed to an evil calculating grin and she offered to bring me a sample flight. Apparently, I was a challenge.

Sure. What the heck.

This is where the definition of the word “epiphany” fixed itself clearly into my brain.  Whether it was the experience of the freshly made Hefeweizen or the richness of the Porter – their offerings at the time – I can’t say. It was love at first sip.  Now here was beer with that heretofore fleeting characteristic that I’d found lacking in the canned pap that I had experienced before – Taste.  Ever since that experience, I’ve learned not to turn down good beer and love Porters, Ales, and Stouts. I even like Guinness. Who’da thunk.

By the way, we are surrounded by Rock Bottom Brewery locations in Arizona and California, but none here. {{sigh}}

So I went to the Beer Festival with high hopes and an adventurous palate. Most of my friends are currently IPA devotees, and I was also determined to sample every one I could find. I’ll tell y’all about that in the next post.

Well now that I’ve set this all up for you, let’s get to the Beer Festival.

Next Post: Dude, Where’s My Tongue?


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