Monday, August 27, 2012

Byggvir! Pits, Mud, Beer and Adventure!

So all the pre-sorting was finished, and next up was actually judging all these beers for the competition!  Since we had nearly 100 more entries this year we decided to do a round of judging at my house on Friday night.  We ended up judging Bocks, English Pales, and Porters, separated into a total of 5 judging tables.  Each table (two larger tables and a bar actually,) had at least one BJCP Recognized or higher ranked judge, paired with a less experienced judge.  This was pretty laid-back and allowed some time to teach as well.  We had excellent pizza and plenty of my beer on tap to keep us going.  Folks were out at our place pretty late and I got to bed around 11 or later that night.  Everything went great though!

Gera, Eric-Bob, Andrew, Matt and Anna
Next was waking up at 6:15 to get dressed in my Renfest costume, strap on my dagger and accouterments, and get all those beers out of the basement.  Steven showed up right around 7:15 and we loaded up the car.  Then the ride to the fest in Chaska. 

Perfect cargo for driving cross-country at great speeds!
Each year the rock quarry right next to the MN Renaissance Festival grounds has continued to expand, and this year it has really taken over a large portion of the previous parking area.  I'm a bit nervous about the future parking situation!  With our special passes we were able to enter the grounds through the back entrance rather than wait in the already big line out on HWY 169.  With the quarry expansion, this was quite different from last year and it routed us directly into The Pit!  Fest workers were told to park in the pit, and we could see several cars parked dangerously close to huge mounds of gravel.  Yikes!  We followed several twists and turns onto gravel paths, past the shanty-town, up one-ways (sometimes the wrong way...) near sink-holes, and what seemed like goat paths to get up close to the grounds themselves.  Get out of the road people!  Not knowing where we were headed, we asked several helpful, and some not-helpful workers how to find the drop-off area behind our tent.  Wild goose chase does not begin to cover it!  Eventually we ended up in the complete wrong area and a nice lady let us drive into the festival grounds directly and we went muddin' through some large standing-water mud pits on the way to our tent.  Insert rebel yell and cue Dukes of Hazard music here!  Oh and must I remind you about the 150 bottles of beer rattling in the back of the truck?  The beers at judging were surprisingly clear...

High-speed pic of less scary area of The Pit

Next order of business is unloading the car, stocking all the beers in our two large body-coolers according to time and category of judging, then back to the truck to find more permanent parking.  Then walking back up the goat-path with a stream of Festies to get allowed in the back B-Gate, and walking through the fest grounds to get back to our tent.  I'm getting tired just writing about this.  Everything is set and organized by 9-9:30 when we start judging.

Next installment...judging and results!

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