And it’s impossible to deny that drunk people can be really annoying, even at a beer festival. Megan Parisi, former lead brewster at Cambridge Brewing, MA, refuses to book a festival she feels has been advertised as a drinking, rather than a tasting event.
“If they’re sloppy, if they just want the strongest thing you’ve got, if they’re not interested, you wonder, ‘Why am I here?’ I could be pouring a bucket of swill.”
It’s hard to blame her.
To be ready for a 1 o’clock session in Boston, Parisi would wake up at 7 to pick up supplies from the brewery. She would get to the venue up to an hour-and-a-half early. She’d lug in toolboxes, backpacks, tents, tables, banners and giveaways and spend the next hour setting up. If everything in the distribution and production chain happened as it should, the beer and ice would have arrived on time and there would be a dolly available for the heavy lifting. She’d set up her jockey box (the cooler-like contraption that holds the ice, draft lines and tap handles) to dispense beer, hoping that she wouldn’t need to fish around in her toolbox for equipment to adjust the CO2 or a part to fix a leak. If she had a few minutes before the doors opened, she would run around to greet other brewers and sales reps, then proceed to spend all day on her feet pouring beer and answering questions.
Maybe she would get a bathroom break, a chance to snag a few sips from some special brewer bottles or a sandwich between sessions. Maybe not. When she’d finished breaking down and cleaning up her area at midnight, she might hang out at the brewery or in a hotel room with some brewers and drink beer that didn’t get consumed at the festival. More than likely, she went home to crash.
“If it weren’t for caffeine, we wouldn’t make it through the second session,” she sighs.
Participants who asked well-thought-out questions and showed genuine interest give Parisi a second wind during her work day.
Patrons who make naive statements such as “Pour me your favorite beer” or “You must have the best job” mildly bug her. Attendees such as Giorgio Piatti and Jillian Golan compose the very essence of why she was there.