Atlantic City Beer & Music Festival 2018

date:  3/24/18

Venue:  Atlantic City Convention Center 
1 Convention Blvd
Atlantic City, NJ  08401

 

Since the Beer Posse has already reviewed the AC Beer & Music Festival in 2016 and 2017, we are taking a different route for this review.  Instead of a full blown review, I’ve asked each of the Beer Posse participants to provide a paragraph and their favorite brew of the day.  Please feel free to post any comments or suggestions.

 

Previous Reviews:

 

Favorite Beers of the Day – 

  • Pretzel – Stone Brewing Tangerine Express
  • The Stoutmeister – Devil’s Creek Caramel Apple
  • The Rabbit – Full Pint Brewing – T Funk (A Berliner Weisse brewed with blackberry and black tea)
  • The Wrangler – Full Pint Brewing – T Funk (A Berliner Weisse brewed with blackberry and black tea)
  • B3 – The next one!

Pretzel:

This was the year, I decided to participate in the Hops Trot 5K.  Basically I wanted to get into the beer fest early, since last year I had to stand with the huddled masses and watch The Stoutmeister, Rabbit, and The Wrangler entered early after the Hops Trot, and I could see them hitting all my favorite breweries!  Not this year baby!  Now I’m no runner, I prefer my spin class, so I decided to walk the 5K rapidly.  There were 8 beer stops (if you include the intro toast, and the victory drink).  The Stoutmeister decided to walk with me, while the Rabbit and Wrangler jetted through the course like Olympic Athletes.  The Stoutmeister looked resplendent in his minion outfit, while I was beer fest royalty in my beer lounge, hand-painted beer & pretzel Vans, beer & pretzel socks, my beer hat, and my pint glass costume.  We lined up behind 2 Santas.  Once the starting bell rang, the crowd lunged forward.  As we picked up speed (if you could even call it that), the Santa in front of me lost his velvet red trousers!  That’s right, I was mooned by Santa.  Luckily for him (and me), he had black leggings on underneath, but I gotta say, I think I’m traumatized for life.  The weather was beautiful, and all the people who kept passing us were so nice.  When we were coming up the final ramp to the finish line, I saw that the finish line timer read 59:35.  WOW!  Inspiration!  So I actually started to run, and was thrilled to finish under an hour!  Woo Hoo!  On to the beer fest!

So by the time, we retrieved our backpacks, grabbed our pretzel necklaces (a requirement for any professional beer fester), and waited in line for the port-a-potties, we really only entered the actual tasting venue about 15 minutes early.  I’m thinking…  Was it really worth the extra cost for the Hops Trot?  Was it worth the sore feet?  Was it worth having to drink a sour at beer stop # 5?  I do hate sours by the way.  All this for 15 extra minutes??  HELL YEAH IT WAS WORTH IT.

I gotta say.  This year was gonna be different!  I was going to sample a few New Jersey beers that I have not yet enjoyed, and then I was going to try all the other non-drinking activities available at the venue.  Blow up horse races, the giant human hamster ball races, checking out all the vendors, the hatchet throw, giant cornhole, beer yoga, and listening to the band.  Oh yeah, this was going to be a full and active afternoon.  Then it happened.  I swear 5 minutes later, they announced the session was over!  Apparently (and I say apparently, because some of the afternoon is a little hazy), The Stoutmeister and I spent the entire session drinking New Jersey beers.  I didn’t enjoy any of the other activities, other than spending 5 minutes listening to the band, since I found a comfortable seat nearby.  Better luck next year.  I’m thinking I may have to attend 2 sessions next year – 1 for drinking, and 1 for everything else.  Sounds like a plan.

The one thing I did manage to sign up for is the AC Beer fest passport which is a booklet that contains pages for 48 NJ breweries.  If you visit each one, and get the page stamped within the next year, you get a free ticket to the 2019 AC Beer and Music Festival.  Great!  It’s like beer bingo last year.  I am now obsessed with visiting all the breweries (some of which I already reviewed, and some not).  Oh well, wish me luck!

 

The Rabbit:

I have yet to be disappointed with the beer fest. This event holds a lot of brewers with a lot of varieties of beer and I must say that I was impressed with the increased quantity of non-IPAs. The weather cooperated with the beer run, which featured six beer stops instead of eight. Once Sam crossed the finish line, the announcer called out her name correctly! Bravo, announcer. Though I didn’t venture a retry from a prior activity, they had Choppers Hatchet House there to get out some drunken frustration with sharp object throwing. Who doesn’t enjoy that? It should be noted that I firmly believe that my hand-eye coordination goes way up after imbibing a bit. In addition, they had free food from cooking demonstrations! The stout infused pork shank was delightful. The only downsides were that the food was a bit expensive and the lines for the bathroom/”Mr Bob is on the job” were absolutely insane. 

 

Princess’s take on the day…

After a bout of cold weather and 7 inches of snow on Wednesday, I wasn’t too optimistic about spending a day in the elements wandering around Atlantic City while the rest of the beer posse spent their time sampling various brews at the beer fest, but faced with the alternative of paying $25 to hang with them and watch them drink beer… well, braving the elements was the clear winner.  As it turned out, the day was beautiful, a little chill at 48 degrees, but the sun was shining and I got to spend the day with Nanny, so all worked out in the end.

Pretzel and the Stoutmeister showed up at our house a little after 8 am in order to get to Atlantic City in time for them to check in for the Hops Trot 5K.  After hanging a bit with our posse pals, B3 and I headed off to find stop 4, which promised a coconut flavored beer.  Now knowing that the Rabbit can’t stand anything coconutty, we thought this would be a Kodak moment in the making.  We didn’t get too far when we happened upon the Cavo Crepe Cafe.  Getting a little side-tracked, we had to stop in for a quick Strawberry, Banana, and Nutella crepe.  Unfortunately, it took a little longer than we expected to get it, so as B3 dug into the crepe, I went out to quickly photograph Pretzel and the Stoutmeister as they ran/walked past.  The Wrangler and Rabbit – true to his name – were in the front of the pack and I missed seeing them.  They also weren’t in costume so it was hard to find them in the crowd.

Anyway, we made it to stop 4 just in time to see the Rabbit and Wrangler guzzle their beer.  Apparently the coconut brew wasn’t being offered though, so the picture idea was a bust.  We then hung out a bit waiting for Pretzel and Stoutmeister to show up while enjoying the sunshine and the sounds of the beach.  After they passed through, we headed back to the Convention Center for the posse to begin their festival of drinking.  I, meanwhile, picked up Nanny and we headed off to the Outlets, first stopping to pick up my free coupon book thanks to my AAA membership.

The Atlantic City Outlets, similar to many Outlet shopping centers contain stores who offer goods at pretty close to “normal” prices or offer goods manufactured specifically for Outlet stores.  These aren’t the Outlet stores of my youth when you would find name brand clothing that was marked irregular because of some minor flaw and sold at a fraction of its normal cost.  Still, depending on the time of year and the store, you can find bargains and Nanny and I definitely found some.  Favorite stores were the following… Columbia – you can usually find something at a good price here if you like the outdoorsy type of clothing.  US Polo Assn – this one was a surprise.  I don’t typically buy their clothes, but they had a section in the back that was 75% off and I found a couple of shirts and a sweatshirt that I really liked.  Four items and I paid less than $30 total (and yes, I used a coupon too J).  The Jerky Outlet – that’s a fun place to visit.  They have all sorts of jerky that you can sample, some of it being exotic – like alligator.  I’m not very brave, but I did try the Elk Summer sausage and I’m pleased to report that it tasted the same as Hickory Farm’s beef stick (perhaps you remember when they had Hickory Farms stores in the mall?).  Another fun place to visit is the Bass Pro Shop.  When we walked in the door, we were accosted by a small child dressed like a cub scout who asked “would you help send me to camp?”  I believe he was selling some scout product, but I think he needed a little better coaching on approaching strangers to sell his wares – Awkward…  Anyway, the Bass Pro Shop entrance is like walking into a mountain lodge with sofas and a big fireplace.  The store is huge and offers all sorts of outdoor clothing as well as camping paraphernalia.  They also offer fishing equipment, boating equipment and I imagine hunting equipment although since I’m not into that, I didn’t go looking for it.

When it came time to eat, my original plan was to take a long walk down to Margaritaville and have a leisurely lunch there.  After walking around the Outlet stores and with our purchases in tow, that didn’t seem like such a good idea.  Per a recommendation from the clerk in the Columbia Outlet, Nanny and I decided to try Los Amigos on Atlantic Ave.  The lunch prices were reasonable and my two chicken tacos were very good.  We also got a big bowl of chips and salsa to munch on while we waited for our meal.

As the afternoon waned on and Nanny and I were pooping out, we headed back to the convention center to meet back up with our posse friends.  The weather had turned out so well that we decided to sit on a bench outside and soak up some of the sun while we waited.  As the festival attendees flooded the streets after the session, I saw a group that had a nice sentiment on their T-shirts.  It basically said “We are making memories we will never remember with friends we will never forget”.  While I can appreciate the humor in the saying, it crosses my mind that one of the reasons I am a designated driver is that I would much rather remember my memories with the best of friends who I love and will never forget – even if they drink a lot of beer.  Salute!

 

The Wrangler:

The 2018 Atlantic City Beer and Music festival was an outstanding event. We started off the day with a nice little work out by participating in the Hops Trot 5K where every jogger gets a lager. I was thrilled that I crushed my time from last year by about 10 minutes (granted I was pretty ill last year), but still, I was very proud of myself. It was a huge advantage to get into the festival almost a full hour earlier than general admission. We were able to have nice conversation with the brewery representatives before the they got too busy and I scored some free swag from Two Roads Brewing from Stratford CT. I mentioned that I would be in their neck of the woods late May and they offered to hook me up with a free beer upon my visit!

There were more non beer related activities added to the festival this year, such as hatchet throwing (although throwing sharp weapons while consuming alcohol is not advisable), a hoppy horse derby, and an inflatable maze just to name a few. I think the DD’s of the group might have missed out this year by not entering the festival. I think the best new addition for this year was the Passport booklet. The Passport lists about 47 breweries in New Jersey that participated in the festival and if you are able to visit all breweries over the remainder of 2018 you get a free ticket to the 2019 AC Beer and Music Festival. It’s a great way to promote NJ breweries and explore the state a little more. I had a great time overall and will definitely be looking forward to this event in the future.

 

The Stoutmeister:

Well, my complaint from 2 years ago is back: the NOISE was just too overpowering.  The band was good but the volume of music was WAY TOO LOUD to a point that I can not even speak in a normal voice with someone next to me.  AND, if everybody had to yell just to talk to the person next to them, the noise gets worse.  Good music turns into NOISE if it is too loud…SORRY, “AC Beer and Music Festival” has turned into “AC Beer and Noise Festival.”   Also, I was expecting more South Jersey brewers but there seems to be LESS this year although I know very well that more breweries opened up in South Jersey.

 

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