New Times Beerfest 2011: It Was Just That Good

New Times 2011 Beerfest
Esplanade Park, Fort Lauderdale.
Saturday November, 12

Check out the Beerfest slideshow here.

Better than:
Last year.

Downtown Fort Lauderdale's bustling clubs and restaurants were

abnormally empty Saturday evening. Credit the massive

spectacle of tents and music pulling the crowd to the west end of the street. Only the most important events are worthy of closing off part of the hectic strip of Himmarshee Street. New Times annual Beerfest is one such event.

Like a dysfunctional family reunion, Beerfest is a time to reconnect with that extended drunken family you might have lost touch with. There were a few changes this year. For the first time, the beers competed in an official taste test. The VIP area -- and really, was worth the upgrade -- was not inside the Museum of Discovery and Science this time around. As I smugly made my way over to VIP with my green paper bracelet, I was unconvinced about being outside among the groundlings. I'm forced to admit, however, this was much better.
Arranged around the circular area in front of Esplanade Park's outdoor

stage, the tents were spread out and easy to get to. In addition to some

well knowns like Blue Moon and Yeungling, there were some other more

palate specific brews. There were several ciders available for the

non-beer lovers and gluten phobic among us. Tap 42 had an agave wheat

and Arrogant Bastard Ale, but the crowd favorite was the vanilla porter.

We never waited on a line more than three or four people deep, which was good because our hobbit-sized official New Times

tasting mugs and were somewhat less than pint-sized. Still, the point

of this sudsy bacchanalia is to taste all that the breweries and local

bars have to offer. Tiny mug means more frequent refills. Damn those New Times party planning geniuses!

This year's VIP managed to be its own special area with a full service bar  (complete with specialty vodkas), food tastings, and ubiquitous hot girls in spandex uniforms gyrating whole-heartedly on a small stage for our ogling and yet was still in the midst of all the general Beerfest action.

Look, I don't want to sound like I'm singing praises. Honestly, it's rhetorically much easier (and so

much more fun) to bash an event then to go on and on about how good it

was, but dammit, it was good. Admission cap so it didn't get too crowded? Check. Food stands interspersed to soak up the beer? Check. Sufficiently familiar '90s band Sister Hazel that most attendants would find nostalgic and easy to listen to? Check. OK -- the bathroom lines were pretty bad, but I don't

think New Times can be rightfully blamed for that one.

The point is, it was just good. Here are some photos - be jealous. Luckily, there's always next year.

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Rebecca McBane is the arts and culture/food editor for New Times Broward-Palm Beach. She began her journalism career at the Sun Sentinel's community newspaper offshoot, Forum Publishing Group, where she worked as the editorial assistant and wrote monthly features as well as the weekly library and literature column, "Shelf Life." After a brief stint bumming around London's East End (for no conceivable reason, according to her poor mother), she returned to real life and South Florida to start at New Times as the editorial assistant in 2009. A native Floridian, Rebecca avoids the sun and beach at all costs and can most often be found in a well-air-conditioned space with the glow of a laptop on her face.
Contact: Rebecca McBane