I don't get the greatest night's sleep. I wake at 3 Am and struggle to fall off again. I get up feeling pretty knacked.
Maybe breakfast will liven me up. It's free, but served on plastic. I really don't get why nice hotels do that. But at least it's free. And there's hot food: western omelette and ham. I try to be healthy and drink plenty of orange juice and eat some fruit. I still feel crap.
The fest kicks off at 11 so I've a little time to rest and hopefully cheer up. I stumble across some English footy on the TV: FA Cup semi-final, Chelsea vs. Southampton. It’s difficult to know who to root for when two Southern clubs are playing. Except when one is from London. Unfortunately, Southampton lose.
At 11 I get a cab to Urban Chestnut. Not quite sure what is expected of me. Just through the door, I bump into Mark Dredge. Reassuringly, there's already a queue to get into the festival. Well, collect the glass and beer tokens. Mark already has his.
Various locations being used to serve the festival beers, one in the brewhouse itself. Where we bump into Stan and I'm given a festival glass. Then a second one. Cool. The Dovetail people are there and I chat with them a little.
My glass is filled without crossing off a token on a sheet, which is what happens with the punters. It's only a few hours into the fest that I realise I should have a blue armband to get free beer. When a server does ask for my card, I simply say “I’m one of the speakers.” And they take my word for it. I guess I don’t sound very local.
The talks start at 12. First Nate on the history of Lager in general. He seems a little nervous that me and Stan are in the audience. I'm a good boy and don't interrupt.
Shouldn’t my books be here somewhere? 15 copies of Let’s Brew! And 5 of Lager!. I want to try to shift a good few after my talk. Whenever I speak somewhere my finishing catchphrase is “Buy my books!”
Next is Florian talking about the history of Pilsner. Followed by Stan on the history of US Lager, which is pretty interesting. Between the talks there are short breaks which allows me time to fetch beer. I’m so glad that I have two glasses.
After Florian has finished, I ask him if he knows where my box of books is. It would be nice to have them for my talk. “I’ll look into it.” he promises.
The oompah band has started up in the main hall. They’re pretty loud. Even with the door closed. Glad I’m not on just now. I’m amazed to discover that the band numbers just three. And that the tuba player can hold a litre stein in his left hand while continuing to play with just his right. Impressive.
My British Lager talk is the penultimate. It's not my best performance, as I'm still knacked. But I get through it in good time. And raise the occasional laugh. No sign of my books, mind.
Finally there's a talk by CAIRN on the caves of St. Louis. Fascinating stuff. The caves were heavily used by the city's Lager breweries until the advent of artificial refrigeration. Not sure I’d want to go down most of them. Narrow semi-submerged spaces are the stuff of my nightmares.
Talks done, it's time for beer drinking. I try to make my way through all the beers, which is a challenge as they're being served all over the place. I really like the Bohemian Export. The Barclay Perkins Sparkling Beer is surprisingly popular. As is their, frankly rather watery, Draught Lager.
The festival is going really well. I guess most Lagers have quite a broad appeal. Nothing too weird or extreme. The strongest beer, a Doppelbock, is only around 7% ABV.
The Kulmbacher isn’t as dark as I expected. Though I must be to blame. It was my recipe, after all. As were many of the others. Not all, mind. Florian supplied some. 1910 St. Louis, for example. Which I hear described as “Budweiser on steroids”.
Still no sign of my books. Probably too late to flog then now, anyway.
We finish the evening standing by the Dovetail stall. My legs are starting to suffer from the hours of standing, but we manage to finish off the keg of Dovetail Pilsener. Which is a lovely beer, open-fermented and lagered for 7 weeks.
"We could sell it earlier, but it doesn't taste right to me until after 7 weeks." Their brewer says.
They brew some cracking Lagers, Dovetail.
With the festival closed down, Stan, and me go for some food. I've not eaten since breakfast. We walk to The Gramophone, a sandwich place with good beer a few blocks away. Too knacked to read the menu, I plump for Alcatraz, Stan's choice. No idea why it's called that, but it's pretty tasty.
I have a 4 Hands Dankine to accompany my sarnie. It tastes like fruit punch. I’m told it contains actual fruit. That's no surprise. There's a pithy bitterness that isn’t wholly pleasant.
It's still only 9, but I just let Stan drop me off at my hotel. I go to bed almost immediately, hoping for a better night's kip. Come here sleep. I want to make your reacquaintance.
These are the books I'd hoped to sell. This one contains the recipes I supplied for the Lager Festival.:
While this one is based around the talk I gave:
Urban Chestnut Grove Brewery and Bierhall
4465 Manchester Ave,
St. Louis, MO 63110.
Tel: +1 314-222-0143
CAIRN: Cave Archaeology Investigation & Research Network
4243 Manchester Ave,
St. Louis, MO 63110.
Tel: +1 314-531-5700
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