Despite my reservations, the new venue for Blues & Brews was a success! The rain mostly held off, so although it was hot, it was dry until the event was nearly over.
This year, a few of the biggers brewers - Great Lakes, Sam Adams, Left Hand - had their own tents, while the other 70+ smaller brewers shared a couple of big-ass tents. There was also a retro tent (read: shit beer), which I didn't visit. I think those changes helped ease the congestion in the large tents. Lots of wheats and Belgians, which hindered my plan a bit to take it easy, but I tossed beers I didn't like (sours!).
We also continued our tradition of running into Eddie Chimichanga (he reps Goose Island), now with son!
Speaking of Goose Island, I noticed that they brought a bunch of their specialty beers and left their standard fare at home. I think they're trying to showcase their unique brews to overshadow the new Bud ownership. I don't blame them :) They had some neat stuff - Belgiany, sours (yuck, as I mentioned earlier), dark. They weren't my favorites, but they were fun to try.
My favorite might have been the Belgian from Rocky River Brewing, although the black IPA from Weasel Boy is always a winner.
Another thing about this year's event: The brewers had good beer left until the end! Usually, they run out of the good stuff by the end (I think the retro tent and the bigger brewers' separate tents helped that as well).
One thing that sucks - and this is something that's a problem every year - is that many, many of the volunteers know nothing about beer. It's so much better when the brewery reps are there. I had one dude describe a beer as "tasting Russian," but he couldn't remember the beer (I tried it - clearly a Russian imperial stout). I want to volunteer next year; I would be so much better!
Following the event, we went home, ordered pizza and cheesesticks, watched a little Good Fellas and were in bed EARLY. After all, we had a 10-mile run yesterday morning.