Edmonton Beerfest review (uh, half a decade later)

The Edmonton International Beerfest is taking place this weekend (ie. today, it's not open on Sunday) at the Shaw Conference Centre. I most certainly won't be there. I didn't go last year either, the first (and only) year I went was May 2009, the inaugural year at the Shaw and the first time I used my cellphone to send pictures to Twitter.

The previous year I'd gone as well, but a big difference: it was held at Fort Edmonton Park, at the Blatchford Hanger on a really really really nice day. There were cool food tents out in the back, you got to drink a variety of cool beers at the hanger, and you could chill outside on the grass where unlike in bars people could drink and smoke simultaneously. It's really a bit of a pleasure, even as a non-smoker, to experience that. You have to remember that drinkers still tend to smoke more, and it means that in regular bars and even outdoor beer gardens, the smokers keep leaving routinely and causing unnecessary disruption to the ebb and flow of conversation inside. This was magically avoided at Fort Edmonton, and was a really super-cool and mellow experience. Needless to say, there were loads of good looking beer drinking girls in nice outfits that you got to talk to and had a decent chance with. Of all of us, I think only Chang didn't get a phone number, and that's because he's crazy. We all got phone numbers, some of us several, and all in all it worked out pretty well.

Contrast that now with the Shaw. The Shaw event was about the same size, but it was noisy with annoying dance music intermixed with a band who wants to play ALL THE GOTH METAL YOU CAN HANDLE. It's just not the chill pickup scene that it was before. Now there were still girls in sexy outfits, maybe even sexier since it was indoors: they were all the kind of hoochy girls who dream of meeting a guy who's as big into UFC as they are. And, unfortunately, this event didn't fail to deliver in that category, providing you with all the meathead guys who have barbed wire tattoos on their biceps and the desire to use every pickup technique Tales from the VIP can teach you. Instead of a nice chill afternoon with beer, it was just another Hudsons. We already have far too many of those. At $19 admission, it just isn't worth it.

There's also a lot more beer fests to choose from. I went to the Co-Op Wine Festival last fall and they had beer available. There's a separate Craft Beer Festival in June (at the EXPO Centre, same venue as the Co-Op wine event) that isn't as meat-heady...still not the same though.

Ultimately these beer festivals just get too big and too popular for their own good. This is maybe a good weekend to hit a normal bar. You may actually be able to pick up some phone numbers.