Columbus Winter Beerfest was supposed to be a night of tasting some quality craft beers from some of the finest breweries and microbreweries around the country.
In actuality, it was a lot of 20-and-30-somethings getting drunk while standing in The Greater Columbus Convention Center Saturday.
When I arrived fashionably late, the front ticket office stopped selling tickets after reaching capacity. This was the first sign that Beerfest was not going to be the classy event I hoped for.
Upon entering the auditorium, it was almost impossible to hear anything. The usual hum that comes with a large amount of people trying to talk over each other seemed amplified as if people were instead trying to drunkenly yell over each other. This was the second sign.
Most participants were given plastic 5 oz. cups. VIP ticket holders received glass 8 oz. mugs, and everyone received a sheet of about 25 tickets. Each ticket was supposed to be handed to the vendors for one refill of your cup. The idea was to limit how much everyone could drink.
I felt left out. Everyone was drinking and I hadn’t had a sip, so I went straight for the shortest line I could find. After a short wait, I arrived at the vendor’s counter ready to hand them a ticket for my first beer. They filled my cup, smiled and didn’t ever ask for a ticket. At this point I realized that the vendors didn’t care about tickets since they were giving the beer away.
I moved on, trying to make my way through the mass of people. There were three large aisles, each about 50 yards long by 40 yards wide. Each isle was packed with people standing shoulder-to-shoulder.
I met up with a few friends and we moved on the next vendor which specialized in Scottish ales. These were the kinds of beers I had shown up for. Something flavorful and different from your average craft beer, such as Blue Moon.
We then made our way to the center aisle and went straight for a hard cider. The Crispin Natural Hard Apple Cider was easily the best drink I had of the night, and was one of the few names I bothered to commit to memory. It was sweet and delicious, like drinking cold, sparkling apple juice.
From there, we bounced around a few more vendors and eventually made our way to the last aisle. There was a silent disco, where everyone in the fenced-off area was wearing wireless headphones.
By the time we made it to Goose Island at 10 p.m., they announced that they were out of beer and were closing for the night. Most of the better vendors also ran dry, leaving only the beers nobody wanted.
As we were deciding which vendor to try next, I noticed one individual, likely emblazoned by alcohol, throw his plastic cup as far as he could, hitting someone in the back.
That’s when every sign I had missed truly set in. This was now thousands of intoxicated people all in one spot, who would soon all be forced to leave at the same time.
We decided to leave early. At the exit, there was another person, clearly at the level of drunkenness known as “total moron.” Something made him decide it was a good idea to throw his glass cup straight at the concrete ground.
Glass shards, one of which hit my friend in the face, went everywhere as he ran away. Moments later, another male noticed a plastic cup on the ground and stomped on it, again sending shards everywhere.
Beerfest was supposed to be a fun night of tasting some upscale beers and ciders. It was instead a crowded, noisy mess, full of drunken idiots.