A few months ago I met Amanda at a SpokesBuzz event. She is the Volunteer and Celebration Specialist at the Fort Collins Museum of Discovery and Science Center, the organization that was selected to be the beneficiary of the proceeds from the this years Odell’s Small Batch Festival. Amanda was charged with lining up an army of volunteers to help pour beer at the festival. With volunteers pouring, more proceeds can go to charity. When she put out a call for volunteers on Facebook, I jumped all over it. I love pouring beer. Love, actually, is an understatement. Helping people decide which beer to get next, talking about the beer, and then handing them a perfectly poured pint is my heaven. My natural instinct is to please others, combine that with my love for beer, and I couldn’t be happier.
I showed up for orientation the Thursday before the event. Karla, the Community Outreach Coordinator for Odell’s lead the simple and to the point explanation of the event. It was clear the staff had put months of work into this event. At the end of the orientation we were able to go behind the bar at Odell’s and pour our own beer, for those who have never poured before to learn how to do it. As a beer geek, this was an amazing moment for me. I not only poured myself a Danny’s Goldmine, a beer made in remembrance of Danny Williams who was an amazing beer enthusiast, but I was able to teach others how to pour. All while behind the bar at Odells. Someone should have taken a picture!
I signed up for the early shift the day of the event, and was one of the first bikes to lock up to one of the many bike racks in the employee parking lot. The Small Batch Festival is a celebration of Odell’s pilot system. A 5 barrel system where they get to play around with different styles of beers. The brewers here love the diversity this small system brings to the Odell taproom, and the festival is a way to showcase some of the best recipes. This year Small Batch featured 9 small batch brews, 2 types of firkins, 6 year round beers and 3 seasonals. The best beers are known to go fast, so I knew working the early shift would be chaotic. After getting a lay of the land, and eating some sandwiches provided to the volunteers by the Red Table Cafe, we took our places.
Of the 3 beer tents set up around the parking lot, I chose the 5 Barrel truck, because it was in the shade and it was incredibly hot. To work this truck you needed to be on the taller side, as the taps were above my head. There was also a couple jockey boxes, and the tap system Odell’s brings to the Great American Beer Fest every year. Each station had all 20 beers, a total of 60 tap handles. As soon as people were let on the grounds, lines began forming. At one point the lines were so long, they met in the middle of the lot. Once things started moving, it was organized chaos. The tink-clink of tokens being dropped into jars was constant. Volunteers and staff were pouring beer as quickly as possible. One person even told me they intentionally kept coming back to my line, because it was the fastest and I could tell them about the beer they were drinking. I was so honored that they thought that, I almost jumped over the table to hug them.
The Pomegranate Pale Ale Firkin was the first to go, as each tent only had one small barrel. Luckily I was able to get a taste before it went. The fruit showcased the floral of the hoppy pale, and was amazingly refreshing without being too sweet. Next to go was the Kiwi IPA, and unfortunately I didn’t get to try this one. The IPA’s along with Footloose, a golden sour, and Totes McGotes, a reisling must wheat, were the most popular pours. Sometimes the tap handles weren’t even turned off on these beers while cup after cup was placed under the running spout by various volunteers. Footloose has been a favorite of mine for a few months now, so I didn’t try that, and Totes McGotes was a bit to dry on my palate for the crazy heat we were experiencing. I adored the Wooden Elephant, an IPA that was aged in oak barrels to give it a more smooth, sweet flavor to compliment the bitterness. I would order this again. And again if I could.
Once I was done with my shift, I headed into the crowd to find some friends. I had made no actual plans with people to meet up at the this event. I just assumed everyone would already be there, and I was right. I couldn’t walk from one end of the parking lot to the other without running into several people I knew. On top of that, I was able to met many new people as well, such as Thomas from Crafting A Nation, Dan of Hoppy Dog Brewing and Mr. Doug Odell himself. Catching up with so many friends while enjoying great beers is the best part of events such as this. It truly brings people together, and for a great cause such as the Fort Collins Discovery Center and Museum. Kudos to Odell Brewing for putting on such a huge festival to help make this amazing community even greater.
I actually didn’t take many photos at this event, as I was a sticky mess from head to toe from pouring, but check out some of the awesome photos Beertographer captured.