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Tim Bissell Tim Bissell
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Three Pint Stance - Winter Session thoughts

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So the 2018 Brew Fest season, unofficial as it may be, kicked off with a couple events around Maine last weekend, including the Maine Brewer’s Guild’s First Annual Winter Session at the Brick South building on Thompson’s Point in Portland.

(I’m not usually one to write a recap of events gone by, because I sometimes feel like that is only interesting to the people who went, and I want everyone to be interested in my column! However, this fest felt a little different, so I’m gonna talk about it and YOU ARE GOING TO LIKE IT!)

What felt different about this festival? It’s hard to pinpoint one specific thing, but if I had to put a word to the feeling this fest had that others don’t, I’d say it was cozy. Yeah, you heard me, it was cozy and I liked it!

The vaulted ceilings of the venue, coupled with the rugged industrial framework washed with ample natural light, really set a neat scene for the festival. There was enough room to move between brewery booths, but the rows were a little tighter than usual. Not in a way that restricted the flow of people - it just made everything feel more like a party! All in all, Brick South gets a gold star from me - great venue for a brew festival!

Another contributing factor to the coziness is the fact that the Brewer’s Guild asked all of the participating brewers to wear something flannel or plaid. Normally, my cynicism would get the best of me and I would say this is “stupid” or “lame,” but after taking part and being there alongside all the comfy-looking, flannel-wearing brewers and sales reps, I have to say - it worked! Some of the festival attendees also came dressed in flannel and a few breweries were selling flannel branded gear, so people could join in the fun! Big props to the crew from Geaghan’s, as they were looking extra sharp in their matching Buffalo Plaid.

A sneaky but certainly a large contributor to the cozy feel of the fest was the subtle music coming from the “Eat food/Sit down and thing about life for a while” area near the entrance, with a number of groups playing various acoustic instruments. I find music at brew festivals is usually one of two things - non-existent or these-go-to-11 loud. This was neither, and it was really cool to have subtle music in the background without it getting in the way of people talking about the beer.

But maybe the thing that made this one so different is just … that it was something different! Brew festivals sometimes have the tendency to be paint-by-numbers events, and it can get a little dull. So kudos to all involved in planning Winter Session 2018! Thanks for the coziest brew fest I’ve ever been to. And thanks for knowing that it was what I needed right now, even if I didn’t know it. 

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