Greetings, boils and ghouls! This month, the freaks and geeks at Masters of Brewtality are leaving our beloved moldering crypt to head topside for our favorite yearly event, the Flagstaff BrewHaHa. This Saturday, the High Country Conference Center on Northern Arizona University’s north campus transmogrifies into the premier beer tasting event and we couldn’t be more stoked! This year marks our third go-round and we like to think we’ve picked up a few helpful tips for making the experience that much more enjoyable, so, without further ado, the Masters of Brewtality presents our BrewHaHa survival guide.
Tip 1: Plan for the long haul
There are over 50 breweries bringing their suds out and the $50 day-of ticket includes a liver-punishing 16 samples. Naturally, you can always buy more tickets, but, fair warning, the craft beer community is as generous as they are gregarious. There has yet to be a year where the ticket limit was strictly adhered to and, by the end of the day, it’s generally a manic free-for-all of chugging. Our first year found the entire staff sprawled out on the crypt’s freezing stone floor immediately after getting back thanks to shotgunning as many barley wines as they could during the last 15 minutes. Be sure to have a decent lunch before heading in and drink plenty of water throughout the day because no one likes a sloppy drunk and no one wants a two-day hangover. This is coming from personal experience.
Tip 2: Prepare for schwag
We’re sticker people down here in the crypt. Philosophically, there’s just something so very personal about covering the things you own with little traces of your experiences, but, really, it’s probably because we never truly outgrew our punk phase. Whatever. Every brewery here will be bringing all sorts of fun stickers, just aching to be plastered on everything to serve as a testament to that time you drank that beer. It’s also a pleasant reminder that, yes, you could go for one right now, too. It doesn’t stop there, either. Coozies, bottle openers, buttons, key chains and all sorts of other freebies are just lying around. Personally, we fill our pockets to the brim with everything not hammered down and give them out for holidays and birthdays year round.
Tip 3: Pregame
Just kidding. And remaining sober beforehand helps keep preparatory details straight, like remembering your ID and wearing clothes you can fall down in.
Tip 4: Plan your transport
Obviously, if you’re planning on getting tanked, don’t drive. Take an Uber, grab a cab, walk or whatever. BrewHaHa also offers a $20 Designated Driver ticket, which we’re sure is a hot commodity on BizarroWorld, where up is down and down is up, but good on them for making the effort. As this is Arizona, you can get a DUI riding a horse, even if the horse is sober, so leave your trusty steed back at the ranch.
Tip 5: Swing the VIP ticket if you can
BrewHaHa also offers a VIP ticket that includes early entrance, reserved seating and a commemorative glass for a little extra, which is all well and good, but the kicker is the luncheon. Everything is made with some sort of craft beer, from the Pear Pilsner vinaigrette on the salad to the bock mac n’ cheese balls to the beer-braised roast. AND STOUT-INFUSED CHOCOLATE CAKE! The sheer arrogance of combining two of the best things in the world borders on hedonistic blasphemy and, well, that’s what we’re all about. We’ve missed it every year and, every year, we regret it so.
Tip 6: Eat a brat
Just do it. They’re great. The grease and bread soak up the beer, the sauerkraut takes your taste buds across the pond and they’re pretty cheap. Beyond the VIP luncheon, this is about the only option you’re going to find for snacking beyond pretzels, so grab something to eat and keep that energy up.
Beyond that, make some friends and enjoy yourself! We’re rounding this column out with a bit of hype for the upcoming Flag 7 collaboration brew. This year, all seven of Flag’s breweries (we lost Trail Crest) came together to create one of the sweetest mixes so far: Imperial oak smoked porter! The malt list alone is diabolical, featuring chocolate, black, molasses, crystal, plus they even smoked two-row barley over locally-sourced oak from the White Mountains, thanks to Dana from Canyon Diablo. Topped off with Dry English Ale Yeast, this brew will be aging in a whiskey barrel for the next few months before it’ll hit taps at all the local breweries, plus Hops on Birch and Majestic Marketplace. The waiting is the hardest part.