I’ve always said that if I could only go to Atlantic City one day a year, it would be for the Atlantic City Beerfest. And, with my growing family, it perhaps might be the true for 2019. This was my fourth time in five years going to the Beerfest, and I am running out of ways to sing its praises. I’ve recounted my favorite Beerfest moments, I’ve given advice for Beerfest beginners, and I’ve…written whatever this was. This year, however, it felt different. In almost every other year, I felt like I was missing out on something. I was craving more. In 2019, however, something changed. I felt…satisfied. I felt…comfortable. The Beerfest wasn’t the madcap chase for beer samples and brewery stickers. It felt like visiting an old friend. Some breweries were the same, some had changed, but it was still the same Beerfest I knew and loved. So, rather than give advice, or recap wild antics, here’s just some beautifully blurry photos from this year’s activities.
This year’s featured activity was Beerfest Bingo. While I was successful in get my bingo ticket fully punched, I must confess: I didn’t finish every sample. Sorry purists, I hate me, too.
This year’s companion was Keith, of the legendarily inactive blog Rainmansuite.com. Say hi, Keith!
Here’s a small smattering of the other Beerfest offerings in 2019: free pinball, beerpong with garbage cans, and a comedian roasting people as they went to the bathroom. The only one we didn’t participate in was the giant beerpong – remind me in 12 months.
And, of course, it wouldn’t be Beerfest without the beers. It was a top notch performance by every brewery this year (yes, even you, one non-alcoholic brewery this year that was fighting the good fight). As there are no further Atlantic City trips on my radar, the Beerfest did its job, and I got to leave on a high note. The countdown to 2020 begins….now.
Good god, it has been a while. I made excuses for it in the last AC diary, but I really have been slacking on my trips to the lost city of Atlantic. Things haven’t slowed down for me over the last six months, as there have been many things over the last six months that both required my time and money (the holidays, house repair and decor, planning for weddings to attend in 2017, etc.). But, I knew I wouldn’t be missing the Atlantic City Beerfest, the greatest weekend in Atlantic City’s calendar. And, with thanks to the great and powerful OB, what a weekend it was! Let’s break it down:
Friday, 4:30PM – It’s raining, and I’m at the Cheesequake rest stop in the middle of the Garden State Parkway. That sentence is normally the start of a miserable story, but not in this case, as OB shows up to pick up my lady and me in a limo. You see, after hitting it big years ago, OB took down a group of able-bodied gamblers in a limo. Since then, he had been looking to recreate the experience. Unfortunately, this led to many times where he had claimed he was going to Altantic City via limo, but then cancelled it for a variety of reasons (not enough people to go, conflicting plans, realizing that it’s already 2AM and calling a limo to Atlantic City when you were drunk is probably not a great idea). This earned him the nickname “The Boy Who Cried Limo To Atlantic City”, a label he was desperately trying to shake lest it ruin his standing in high society. So, imagine my surprise when The Boy Who Cried Limo To Atlantic City actually showed up….in a limo to Atlantic City!
Unfortunately, this limo ride coincided with another experiment I was conducting: being sober the month of March. The gist of it is: anyone can say they don’t have a drinking problem and can quit any time they want, but how can they know for sure? Therefore, my wife and I put this to the test by keeping sober during the month of March (we would have done February, but we had a trip to New Orleans already planned in that month). And, within a week, I found out I don’t have a drinking problem. Much like running, I found sobriety to be very….boring. It wasn’t a struggle – I wasn’t white-knuckling it, or shaking on the bathroom floor. But it wasn’t that rewarding either- sure, I probably saved a bit of money, but I didn’t find myself feeling that much better physically or mentally day-in-day-out. Sobriety was just…there. Thus, my wife and I were in countdown mode on the way to AC.
8:00PM (4 Hours of Sobriety Left) – We have a lovely dinner with OB and LadyOB at Nero’s Steakhouse in Great Caesar’s Casino, where it’s a competition of sins. OB is drinking lovely pink alcoholic drinks in front of the sober people, while we heathens stuff our faces with meat on a Friday in Lent (OB is Catholic). Only LadyOB is enjoying both worlds, meating and boozing it up.
After, OB hits up the Britney Spears slot machine (which he fell in love with during the last trip to AC), and has the greatest run of slot machine success I’ve ever seen. Starting with $100, he gambles it all the way down to his final $0.50. Then, after hitting some crazy games, he’s back up to $140! That’s a 28000% increase on his investment! As they say in Atlantic City, you can never count a man out on a Britney Spears slot machine.
11:58PM – I’ve been sober so long, that I’m watching a women’s college basketball game….and I’m enjoying it.
12:00AM – DRINKING!!!!!
I drink a little drink, and then drink some more. The night become a blur of Britney Spears slot machines (which treated me poorly this time) and $5 blackjack at the Wild Wild West. I missed you drinking. Welcome back.
Saturday, 11:00AM – Well, I’m not too hungover. Last year, I claimed I would go to two sessions of the AC Beerfest, and, given how much I drank on Friday, I think I’d be ready for it in 2018 (my two sessions would be Friday night and Saturday night, although OB argued it would be best to do the two sessions all day Saturday). After a small breakfast where I meagerly eat a Caesar salad, my wife takes a nap and I putz around the premises. As I mentioned in the last AC Diary, I am thoroughly impressed by the Wild Wild West casino. It still provides a plethora of $5 table games, as well as other non-gambling arcade games (Pop-A-Shot, Guitar Hero, etc.). It was quite lively for a Saturday afternoon in the off-peak season, with both gamblers and non-gamblers alike. It’s become the casino I’ve dreamed of since I first started going to Atlantic City: it’s youth-oriented (I felt ancient as a 32-year-old), it provides cheap gambling, and it provides cheap drinks/entertainment for non-gamblers. It is so simple, and they had the tools to make this the whole time – I’m not sure why it took them 10 years to get it right. By the way, I fully expect to see an article about why the Wild Wild West is closing any day now…that’d be typical Atlantic City.
2:00PM – My wife and I make a trip to the outlet malls, which I cannot recommend more if you are doing a full weekend trip to Atlantic City, for two reasons. First, at some point in the weekend, you need to step outside the casino, if only to re-orient yourself with society. Casinos can be maddening with their pumped-in oxygen and loud noises. Whether it is a walk on the Boardwalk or through the outlets, a breather is a must.
The second reason? Treat yo self. Atlantic City is going to take your money in some form, so why not come home with something? I ended up getting a shirt for $35 off – that’s a $35 win for me! More money to gamble with!
6:00PM – We’re back at the AC Beerfest! How I missed you!
Really, there’s not much more I can say that I haven’t said before. I dressed up, grabbed as much swag as possible, and got drunk. It’s the fastest four hours of the year, which is why I am always pushing for two sessions: you simply can’t get to everything. I was still recovering from sobriety and only finished with about 25 samples this year (as opposed to last year’s 35), and there was even more I wanted to see.
10:30PM – A dinner at Gordon Ramsey’s (that I remember, unlike last year), and $5 blackjack at the Wild Wild West cap off an excellent weekend. I am able to recover a bit of my Britney losses, and wind up down $40 (or $5, if you are counting the “winnings” from my shirt). I am still as impressed as ever with the Wild Wild West’s makeover, as a live-band is playing, the beerpong tables are packed, and everyone is having a blast. It is a far cry from the chain-smoking zombies that are the hallmarks of Atlantic City casinos. There is definitely room for another Wild Wild West-esque casino in AC, and I’m hoping that’s what the Hard Rock (opening next year) can be. Usually, I like to find an “event” to go down to AC for, but with the new WWW, it’s the first time in a long time I’m itching to go to AC just to be in a casino.
So, that ends this journey: great dinners, great limos, mediocre sobriety, great savings, great gambling, and great beers. What else could you want?
This past weekend, I went down to the Atlantic City Beer (and Music) Festival at the Atlantic City Convention Center. The 2015 Beerfest was my rookie experience, and it was the highlight of my
life year springtime (I did get married after all). If you check out last year’s recap, you’ll see I listed the top six things about Beerfest. After a year of hype, I am happy to report that the beerfest remains relatively unchanged. It was still the quickest four hours you’ll ever spend in Atlantic City, with great music, great people, and great beer. There isn’t much more I can add on what’s great about it, so this year I’ll give you a guide on how to best enjoy the beerfest.
Dress for success. Whether going to a job interview, or going to a beerfest, the way you look will determine how far you get. Some people treat the event like Comic-Con, and dress up in full costumes. Personally, I prefer a simple festive shirt. This year, my group went in coordinated t-shirts for my mother’s birthday (yes, my 64-year-young mother attended her first beerfest). Even if you don’t want to go that far, I’d suggest wearing something that is in the deep end of your closet. Don’t make it a casual Friday, make it a beerfest!
Accessorize. As you can see, my shirt wasn’t enough. With the help of swag from different breweries, I gave my shirt it’s own unique, um, let’s call it “style”. Remember: stickers are a drunk’s best friend. Approach pins with great caution.
Pretzel. Necklaces. On the car ride down, my crafty wife concocted pretzel necklaces for the entire crew. The pretzel necklace is like a Halloween costume – you originally feel silly putting it on, but once you get to the party, it is essential. The pretzels will be the source of your life force throughout the night. Don’t be a bum that buys it at the convention – make the pretzel necklace your own. Some people even personalize theirs, adding candies and even bagels to the necklace.
Keep track of your drinking. As you can see, I put this t-shirt to work, tallying my drink intake on the back. When the night seems a little fuzzy, you can just look at the back of your shirt for the reason why. I preferred having the brewers check it off – it was definitely a conversation starter.
Take a breather, drink water, and see the sights. If there’s one trap most people will fall into at the beerfest, it is drinking too much beer. There’s plenty of fun things to do there, whether you are looking for a fashionable new kilt, trying to work your yoga, or want to get a picture with the Batmobile. Your liver will thank you the next day.
Talk to the little guys. It seems that every year, the big breweries have big lines. You can get those any time of year. But, how many times can you try beer from the Pinelands Brewery or the Alpine Beer Company? There’s something I love about just seeing a simple booth with two guys and a cooler. While the quality at microbrews can be a gamble, you can bet that they’ll generally have a higher ABV.
The more the merrier. Last year, it was just me and long-time ACer OB. This year, the group had exploded to seven. There’s nothing like four hours of drinking with your friends and family. But….
Keep track of your crew. I thought going with more people this year would make it easier to find everyone. That was not the case. For the last 20 minutes of the beerfest, my phone was dead and I was completely lost. After the beerfest, I stumbled into a local Applebee’s and asked the manager for the phone. Shockingly enough, this man saw a drunk guy covered in stickers and thought, “Of course this man should use our phone.” I dialed as many cell phone numbers as I could remember until reaching a member of my crew. If it weren’t for that disturbingly helpful Applebee’s employee, I might still be lost in Atlantic City. So, I would set check-in times/locations prior to the beerfest with your friends.
Go to two sessions. Does it sound dangerous? Absolutely. But, you really can’t do it all in one session. I feel like, even after four hours, I just scratched the surface of what the beerfest had to offer. I didn’t even ride on a toilet or throw a football at a stripper! I’m itching to go back for more. So, my current game plan is to try out going to TWO sessions next year. Am I crazy? You bet. Will I live up to my word? Eh, we’ll see.
Keep this article flagged, my Atlantic City loving functional alcoholics, and I’ll see you next year!