AC Beer & Music Festival – 4/9/16
Atlantic City Convention Center
1 Convention Blvd.
Atlantic City, NJ 08401
The Beer Posse headed out to The AC Beer & Music Festival on a drizzly (soon to be snowy) Saturday morning in April. The Beer Posse included 2 DD’s (Princess, Nanny Franny), The Rabbit, B3, The Stoutmeister, and Pretzel (that’s me). Our expectations were very high, having done our research and discovering that the AC Beer & Music Festival was voted #2 in the country in USA Today’s “10 Best Reader’s Choice” awards. We were not to be disappointed. It was an amusement park / concert / beer fest/ shopping bazaar / food court all wrapped up in one. There was also free WiFi (Sweet!). The DD tickets were a little pricy at $20, but well worth the price given all the activities/events available for the non-drinking buddies. There was a nice phone app for the event which gave you access to a map of the venue, list of vendors, special event schedules, a list of brewers. You could also mark your favorite brewers for future reference, although it would have been nice to include this indicator for the individual beers.
B3 and the Rabbit hopped on over to the first beer vendor in view to start 4 hours of straight beer tasting for the 2 of them (they are nothing if not dedicated to our beer journey). Princess and I made a bee line to the motorized toilet races. I mean really! Who doesn’t want to drive a motorized toilet??? The cost was only $5, they were easy to maneuver, had a great turning radius, and a nice little course to cruise around. People could race 2 at a time, and I naturally easily cruised by Princess for the win! Although, I do have to admit, Princess kept slowing down for photo-ops as The Stoutmeister and Nanny Franny snapped pics. Now I can cross that off my bucket list!
While Princess and Nanny Franny wandered toward the shopping bazaar, The Stoutmeister and I headed toward the tasting booths. While studying the venue map, we decided to focus on the New Jersey craft beer section. (B3 and The Rabbit did not even know there was a special New Jersey craft beer section, as they tore through the convention center like zombies looking for fresh brains.) The Stoutmeister and I have a strategy for beerfests. We each get a different beer from a vendor, drink half and then trade beers. That way we get more variety. It was nice to chat with some of the brewers from the breweries we had already visited and reviewed on this blog. I was especially happy to see a woman dressed up as a glass of beer sporting the Glasstown Brewery logo. I love it when breweries have mascots. There were several other mascots such as the Sea Isle City ice bag (which at first I thought was Mr. Salt Water Taffy from Ocean City) and The Bacon Bites Pig, plus many of the patrons dressed up like Where’s Waldo, the German Couple, Mr. Beer with a light up Beer helmet, and Randy dressed as a German beer maid (ok, that last one was a little disturbing).
After an hour of drinking, and several trips to the restrooms, The Stoutmeister and I headed over to the food court to munch on something more substantial than our pretzel necklaces. We hit the first sandwich shop we saw, and I had a triple combo of a hotdog, sausage, and brat sandwiches. OMG, they were delicious! Best ever. I wish I could remember the vendor’s name. We sat briefly with Princess and Nanny Franny who were also taking a lunch break from their shopping and beerfest sightseeing. But they soon wandered off and left us to our own devices. At this point, the Stoutmeister and I started talking to this lovely couple Allison and Jimmy, displaced Californians now living in North Jersey. As I discovered through our conversation, these 2 did not understand the lay-of-the-land of NJ demographics, so I took it upon myself to bring light to their otherwise darkened education – that is the difference between North Jersey and South Jersey (I still emphatically declare that Central Jersey is a myth, made up by North Jersey people who just don’t want to admit they are from North Jersey). So basically, it’s how you relate to various regional indicators, such as…
- Philadelphia (South) vs New York (North)
- Tastykake (South) vs Hostess (North)
- hoagie (South) vs sub (North)
- Wawa (South) vs 7-Eleven (North)
- Eagles, Flyers, Phillies (South) vs teams of little or no consequence like the Giants, Jets, Rangers, Yankees, Mets, Islanders (North)
- shoobies (South) vs bennies (North)
- jimmies (South) vs sprinkles (North)
Then back to our rounds of the New Jersey Craft Beers with little breaks to admire the AC Beerfest sand sculpture, buy some lottery tickets and win a hat and backpack, admire the Harley Davidson motorcycles, gawk at the batmobile, another potty break, and get my picture taken with the Magic Hat van (Magic Hat #9 is my favorite lager of all time, at least this week any way).
Then we all met up at the end of our session to recap and head home. The Rabbit and B3 were all bragging about drinking 29 beers each, to the Stoutmeister and my 19 beers (but hey, we shared, so we really tasted twice that many, right? so we win!) Just as a note, you never want me to keep score, I can always manipulate the game so that I win. Just sayin’. Nanny Franny berated us for starting a snowball fight on the way to the car.
I must say, this was the best beerfest ever! I will definitely be attending next year!
I Do have a few suggestions for improvement:
- The music was way too loud! It was good, just tone down the volume a little
- provide rinsing stations so that you can rinse out your tasting mug every so often
- I prefer glass tasting mugs to the plastic ones. They make good souvenirs, but The Stoutmeister’s mug cracked on the way home.
I will cover our scoring review at the end, but I do want to include comments from the other beer posse members:
I had a lot of fun @ this beer fest. My favorite activity was the toilet races, but overall there was lots of things for a DD to do and sample. People were very friendly (attendees & vendors both). Overall great way to spend an afternoon. I liked that they had tables and cushy seats near the exit. There was plenty of room to sit while waiting for the rest of our party.
It was a not exactly beer fest weather, an April day with snow in the forecast, but yet the weather was a balmy 68 degrees at the Atlantic City Beer Fest, held indoors at the AC Convention Center! With over 150 brewers and 1000 different brews, it’s one of the largest brew fests in the country. Yet it was surprisingly not overcrowded, with plenty of room for both the brewers and a plethora of craft and artisan vendors along with some interesting activities. Among the activities were the Samuel Adams hop slide where you slide down into a pit of hops and the Toilet Bowl Races where you race around a track on a motorized toilet. There was plenty of food vendors offering a wide range of selections to help wash down those suds. Even our designated drivers enjoyed their time walking around. On the beer side, there were lots of styles to sample, so no matter your particular preference you could find something worth sampling. The official AC Beer Fest app offered a nice list of vendors and activities, and while you could mark favorite brewers with a single touch it did not allow you to do so at an individual brew level. As with many beer fests I attend, I found it difficult to keep track of which brews I had sampled as well as rate them per my individual tastes. Tickets were $55 in advance (with a $10 online processing fee), so it’s not an inexpensive event. DD tickets were available at the door for $20. We attended the Saturday afternoon session and the entry process was well thought out and went very smoothly. All in all this was a positive experience and I would likely attend next year.
My last experience with this group included the bathroom buddies (Pretzel & The Stoutmeister- I think they have fast passes like Disney), the calm, cool, collected B3 and the Rabbit . The bathroom buddies were the hardest to watch as everywhere we went, they manged to wander to the bathroom. B3 was as expected right where he said he would be, and the Rabbit would hop off like the Energizer Bunny on steroids, but eventually would come back to join the core group.
The number of brewers were overwhelming to a point that Pretzel and I had to concentrate and focus on the NJ breweries. Yet, there were too many offerings to sample. There were a few that I did not care for, but for the most part, I liked all of the dark beers. Unfortunately, it was the Dragon Stout from Jamaica that I particularly liked. Of the NJ beers I sampled, I preferred both offerings from Double Nickel. A a whole, I think the beerfest was too noisy. The music was overpowering to a point that two people standing next to each other needed to yell in order to carry on a conversation.
Favorite beers of the day:
- Yards – General Washington (The Rabbit)
- Dragon Stout from Jamaica (The Stoutmeister)
- Tom Foolery – Belgian Tripel (Pretzel)
Overall Pretzel Score (9.16 out of 10):
Scorecard summary: ACBeerAndMusicFest