The Obligatory Cask Days Guide Post

Well, the largest cask beer festival in North America starts tomorrow, and I’m hoping you’re planning on attending.  Whether you’re a first-timer or a veteran, a good bit of fore-thought and planning is necessary. Now, there are currently three excellent guides available, by Mike Warner, Chris Grimley and Cask Days itself.  This guide has already supplanted all three as the standard repository of all Cask Days knowledge and wisdom, for though it has many omissions and contains much that is apocryphal, or at least wildly inaccurate, it scores over the older, more pedestrian works in two important respects. First, it is slightly cheaper; and second, it has the words “DON’T PANIC” inscribed in large friendly letters on its cover.

Don't Panic

Seriously, don’t panic.  It’s a beer festival.  Festival is a word joining the Old English “Fest” (v. to party) with “Carnival”, it’s like partying at a carnival with beer.  Less rides.  And carnies.  But other than that it’s basically the same.  Yes, you could print out the beer list as recommended in the other guides, or store it on your mobile device, but picture this: You’re standing in the Brickworks, holding a 1/4 pint of Little Scrapper IPA from Half Pints Brewing in one, fingerless-gloved hand, balancing a plate of smoked meat in the other, when a girl/dude (your preference, this is your fantasy) eyes your amazingly hip Oktoberfest hat, and asks you about the Hofbrau button on it. Now you’re balancing beer and food, holding in your gut (because I assume about 98% of my readers are male), trying desperately to remember/invent details of your trip to Munich which may or may not have happened, and score a phone number.  Where’s your list now fancy boy? In the dirt, that’s where.  Possibly covered in spilled beer, smoked meat and the remnants of your pride.

Those other guides all bang on about needing cash, and extol the virtues of on-site ABMs (except Warner, who is paranoid and obviously has enough money in his bank account to care if somebody hacks him.  My balaclava and piece of rusty iron pipe are my costume, and not related to anybody who might force Mike to give up his debit card and PIN).  This high praise of cash is both wonderfully capitalistic and accurate, however I would suggest broadening your thinking on this.  Don’t just bring cash, bring your wits.  The servers love it, for instance, if you ask them for a Labatt Blue.  They love it even more when you then say something like “Oh well, just give me a Keith’s or whatever you have”.  This is comedic gold.

There’s no denying it: It’s going to get pretty cold tomorrow night.  Hell, it might even be cold during the day.  While most commentators suggest layering up and so on, perhaps a different approach would be better.  Think outside the box, etc.  Did you know George Mallory possibly reached the summit of Everest wearing gabardine, wool, cotton and silk clothing?  Everest!  Why not kill two birds with one stone, and nick your grandfather’s best tweed coat and aran sweater, then come dressed as Mallory himself.  Not only will you be warm, and fashionable, but that case of Trou du Diable is as good as yours!

Wash your hands.  No joke here, just some good advice.

Tying into the Everest talk there, did you know a lot of mountaineers don’t consider a mountain truly summited, until you safely return?  Being the coolest Mallory-dressed kid at Cask Days doesn’t count if you’re spent the next day.  Common sense says eat a good meal before starting, drink lots of water during and after, and have a caesar the next morning.  Bunk.  Trust me on this, just don’t go to sleep.  Bullet-proof.  Yes, you might end up at an after-hours club dancing the night away, or eating onion rings at Hooker Harvey’s, but when you meet the staff arriving at Mercury Espresso the next day, red-eyed and still dressed like Mallory, you will have the last laugh.  Trust me. Last laugh.

So, that pretty much covers it.  Don’t panic, don’t plan, be witty, dress as Mallory, wash your hands, don’t go to sleep.  I’ll put that into an acronym for you:


Now you won’t forget it.

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  • […] going to Cask Days, either Saturday or Sunday.  Or maybe both.  last year I wrote a somewhat irreverent guide to cask days.  This year I’m being (slightly) more mature.  First off, I will admit, I have sort of kind […]

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