By Melissa Dahl
This Saturday, my gentlemanfriend and I volunteered as beer-pourer-people at HopScotch, Fremont’s annual spring beer and scotch festival that benefits theSeattle International Film Festival. I was manning the Lagunitas station, pouring an IPA and an American Strong Ale called WTF. (Some people demurely called the ale by its full name, Wilco Tango Foxtrot, others giddily asked for the acronym — and a few straightforward folks looked me in the eye and said simply, “What the f—.”)
Now, I know my way around a beer fest — but I’d never been on the other side of the tap. For you, dear Internet strangers, I’ve come up with three things I learned on Saturday, should you ever wish to volunteer at a similar fest. (And you should!)
1. Memorize something (anything!) about the beer you’re pouring. Repeat ad nauseum.
Because, guys, people will ask you about it. They will ask all kinds of trick questions like, “What does it taste like?” After being asked this repeatedly with no way to answer (we didn’t get to try it till after our volunteer shifts), I asked a festival patron to describe the taste to me. He said, “It’s sweeter than most of the beers you’ll try here, and it’s not overwhelmingly hoppy.” I couldn’t even estimate how many times I repeated that during my four-hour shift, even though I had know way of knowing if it was true. But here’s the thing: No one cared if it was true. They just wanted me to say something, with an air of authority, and that was enough.
2. Pour with confidence!
Speaking of authority — for a perfect pour, you let that tap know who’s boss. Hold the little taster glass at a 45-degree angle, and snap the handle thingy forward, then push it back in place just as quickly when the glass is full. Timid pours — slowly inching down the handle and slowly inching it back up — result in too much foam. (Trust me.)
3. If the tap freaks out and beer goes everywhere, it is (probably) not your fault. Here’s what to do.
My WTF was so popular we had to switch out the keg about halfway through my shift, and the second keg needed some time to warm up. For extra fun, the beer line contained some air bubbles that at one point caused the beer to spray everywhere — all over my clothes, my boots, and I think even the poor dude who just wanted to try some Wilco Tango Foxtrot. (WTF, indeed.) If this happens, pour some beer into a pitcher, or the nifty bucket your station is equipped with, until it calms down.
Have you volunteered at a beer festival, either through The World Is Fun or another organization? I’d love to hear what you learned. Leave a comment with your advice for someone wanting to try it for the first time.
Melissa Dahl is a member of The World Is Fun’s newly formed social media team. Her boots still kinda smell like beer.