Overflow Crowd Tempers Enthusiasm for Delilah's Vintage Strong Ale Festival

By Chuck Sudo in Food on Feb 25, 2008 4:30PM

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Delilah's held their annual vintage strong ale fest Saturday afternoon. As a beer lover, we could ask for nothing more. We had the opportunity to sample vintage barrel-aged selections from over 20 breweries. Many of the breweries represented brought different vintages of the same ales, which made for some interesting vertical tastings. Sierra Nevada came correct, with selections of their Bigfoot Barley Wine ranging from 1998 to present-day.

Unfortunately the event was marred by an overflow crowd that had owner Mike Miller and his staff humping to please throughout the entire event, with mixed results. More than a handful of attendees complained to us about the long lines (the picture above was taken at 3:30 p.m., over halfway through the event), short pours, and extended wait times to be served samples. This led to many attendees asking for double and even triple shots of a single beer. At $20 for twenty individual serving tickets. some folks were running out of samples in a hurry.

This was not our first strong ale fest at Delilah's and one would think that, after ten years of hosting this event, Miller and Delilah's management would have some form of system in place to alleviate crowd control. The most obvious solution to the overcrowding would be setting up the festival with staggered session times and a crowd limit for each session. This would do wonders in allowing the same amount of attendees to unwind and enjoy a wider range of beers than they actually were able.

Another idea would be to shift the focus of the festival slightly so that each participating brewery has to bring a selection for a vertical tasting. This would allow the attendees to better notice the subtle differences that resting or cellaring a beer would have on the beer's character. As it was configured, the festival was like visiting Delilah's on a Friday night, only it was daylight outside and we didn't get drunk, laid, or in a fight.