Sampling Beers at the NLC Beerfest, or One Girl’s Mission to Drink All the Beers in the World

Beerfest is that time of year when the Newfoundland Liquor Corporation decides, “Hey, let’s invite some folks from the professional world to sample some of our delicious beerz in hopes they’ll discover something new to love. Preferably a local brew thus fueling some money back into the economy.”

But what they really mean is, “Let’s slap a huge price on an annual boozefest and watch kids get shithoused.”

It all started with Spiritfest, an event meant to draw local businesses to sample various cocktails and spirits. I’ve attended three Spiritfests since 2007, which makes me a bit of an expert, frankly. A golden oldie. The first and second years were reasonable, lots of good fun to be had without huge line-ups and pushy crowds. But by 2009, Spiritfest had become “the must-attend event” of the year.

Enter Beerfest, a similar idea established just last year in 2009. The result was the same: last year’s event was relatively tame, a laid-back atmosphere with picnic tables and live entertainment. This year, however, the place was blocked, a separate bathroom was opened upstairs in the Conference Centre for the ladies, and everyone was dressed to the nines.

Here’s the deal: drinkers pay $50 for a ticket allowing three hours of unlimited beer sampling. They’re given a small guidebook which outlines all the different beers available, as well as a cab coupon and a voucher for some free beer to be picked up at the NLC. The book even has an adorable little section for note-keeping. My coworker insists she saw people scribbling on the pages.

I imagine their notes started out like, “Good, light, pale beer!” and ended with, “I’m gonna make out with that bartender.”

Honestly, after the first hour, I didn’t even really pay attention to what I was tasting and generally just hung around the Molson booth (I’m a hugely loyal Molson fan, ever since living with a rep meant dozens of free booze each week + VIP passes to concerts and special events).

I realize now, after flicking through my beloved guide, I missed several beers…like Moose Light. Not to mention some sort of chocolate stout, which I heard was terrible but I won’t believe it until I taste it.

Trusted beers from the big local breweries? My favourites are Black Horse and India. From the micro-breweries, anything by Quidi Vidi and YellowBelly win. YellowBelly’s pale ale is like sex in a bottle. Oh hell, I’m just going to do a post about Newfoundland beers later. The sheer devastation that Black Horse can wreak on even a grown man’s body deserves its own merit.

Anyway, great night with some great friends. I should have known placing five competitive drinkers in such an environment would lead to the eventual Beer Relay Race that took place in the last 30 minutes of the event. I’d like to tell you if I lost or won, but to be honest, I don’t really remember. I guess that’s the point.

Good beers, good company.

Good beers, good company.

  • March 31 2010

    I now have a new goal in life, or maybe a renewed goal, to try every beer in the world. I wonder if that’s even possible.

    • April 06 2010

      I think by the time we’d get through them all, new breweries would be open…I’m cool with that!

  • March 31 2010

    Wow this sounds like a dream come true for me, the damage one could do in a three hour event. I’d be the one scribling notes at the begining for New Brew Tuesday features and then end it with lines like “mmmmm” an obvious “Beeeeeerr” and then just start quoting the movie Beerfest “We’re not that drunk!”

    …and Linlah I hope so or at least that is what I’m attempting to do, if I fail it will be the most enjoyable failure I’ve ever experienced.

    • April 06 2010

      Hahahahahaha touche Cornelius, touche.

  • March 31 2010
    maggie

    it’s to bad you can’t just fly off to Toronto to join my next Friday – heading to a bar that has literally the most beer I’ve ever seen in one place. The beer menu is huge, divided by country, and if I recall correctly actually nicely priced.
    (that being said, I’ve never started at this bar, so am usually already several drinks in when i get there.. memory may be foggy ;) )

    • April 06 2010

      Hahaha, sounds like the pub I visited in France…the pub of 600 beers. Mmm.

  • March 31 2010

    Wait…people were actually scribbling notes? TOO funny! It’s a shame you didn’t get pictures of the beer relay race – I always find it very funny to see pictures of me doing things that I don’t remember. Sort of like having an evil twin, but not.

    • April 06 2010

      Hahaha, seriously! We were all too absorbed in the beer drinking. I feel like next year I will have to scribble notes, or at least take pics of me doing so.

  • March 31 2010

    I’ve always embarrassed myself in unlimited drinking situations… nice that they give you a cab ticket.

    • April 06 2010

      Very nice, and it expires at 12 p.m. the next day so you can do that whole awkward walk-of-shame thing more subtly.

  • April 01 2010

    ohhh that sounds like a lot of fun!! chocolate stout…that would be interesting. i tried coffee beer once, and it was just about as gross as you would imagine. Toronto has a beer festival that I keep meaning to go to, but I don’t think they have the unlimited sample thing for a fixed price…which is unfortunate. a beer relay race sounds like great times.

    • April 06 2010

      Ewwww, coffee stout?! That sounds…not great. I feel like “chocolate beer” would also be a little disturbing.

  • April 01 2010

    Wow, I wonder if the scribbling people were planning to write reviews of the different beers.

    I don’t think I’d ever go to something like this. Not so into beer unless it’s really dark, and then I only really want like half a glass. Convenient since I tend to live in teetotalling countries, well that’s their official story anyway.

    • April 06 2010

      But then it’s PERFECT! Tons of really dark beer, and they usually just fill your glass halfway so you can move on to the next booth. Although it really is kinda surprising how quickly you’ll get drunk on half-shots…

  • April 01 2010

    Love the giant Canadian beer cans.

    • April 06 2010

      Hahaha, I’m a huge Molson fan.

  • April 03 2010

    Yummm. Beerfests are the best. And you so have to try that young’s double choc. stout. omg.

    P.S. You and your friends look so bright-eyed and fresh faced. The Canadian air mixed with good genes and good beers?

    • April 06 2010

      Ship some to me, please!! The closest I can find any is in New Brunswick. Yes, I checked.

      Hehe, and thanks…got the beer glow goin’ on! :)

  • April 04 2010

    Drunk note-taking: a marketable skill for reporters everywhere! Usually mine is done on balled-up cocktail napkins… Looks like a fun event!

    • April 06 2010

      I forget to carry a pen. :( But yes, it’s a skill us writers need to have!

  • April 05 2010

    Gotta love beerfests! We have them every year in Regina too. Good fun. Lots of drinks, get to watch a few people fight typically, and theres usually live bands. Cant go wrong.

    • April 06 2010

      Hahahaha, good old fashioned Canadian entertainment, right?

  • April 05 2010

    Haha don’t get too impressed. It was 10 kilometers, not a marathon. I am eventually going to do a marathon, but I’m not ready yet. Too much beer and junk food for me. It’s almost TBEX time!

    • April 06 2010

      Ok, 10 km is even a big deal in my world, hahaha. still impressed!

  • April 06 2010

    Oy, beer festivals are dangerous. I remember (blurrily) one in Portland where they made the mistake of printing the alcohol percentages of each brew in the program. It, of course, quickly became a contest…

    • April 11 2010

      Hahahaha, that is definitely a TERRIBLE idea.

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