America. / Coping mechanisms

To beer, or not to beer?

Actually, it’s not much of a question.

In a continued effort to explore the Fort Campbell part of the country before we PCS to a new armyland, I accompanied Jonathan and some friends to downtown Nashville for the 12th annual MAFIAoZA’s Music City Brewer’s Festival last weekend. Nashville is only an hour outside of Fort Campbell, and it’s a city I immediately fell in love with. A walk down Broadway is basically a free country concert, and it’s a tourist mecca for people from every walk of life; whenever I go downtown, I even see enough bros in polos and boat shoes to question if I ever left Northern Virginia.

MAFIAoZA'S Music City Brewer's Festival

Don’t let that beautiful sky fool you; I found out later that the weather in Nashville IS A COMPLETE ASSHOLE. Which is maybe why the festival didn’t skimp on the port-a-potties.
That joke was rough even for me.

The festival took place right smack on the cordoned-off Music City Walk of Fame, which is similar to the starred sidewalks on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, except somehow the band Kings of Leon qualified for a Nashville star. The country music industry is a confusing place.

Music City Walk of Fame

I think Josh Turner would be okay with this facade covering his star, seeing as it was likely drenched in beer by the end of the night anyway. Though, honestly, I bet a lot of country singers would be proud to have their stars drenched in beer.

Unless there’s a happy hour special or I’m at a baseball game, beer is usually not my drink of choice. This worked out well for Jonathan, as I agreed to take it easy on the alcohol so I could drive us home. For everybody else, though, there were over 50 breweries with more than 100 different beers to sample, and a gaggle of hotels in walking distance. Luckily the army brews excellent beer drinkers, and our group of soldiers took the high number of vendors as somewhat of a challenge.


The red-white-and-blue outfit choices were an unplanned patriotic coincidence, because we love this country even with our subconscious. (This, by the way, is the before picture; there isn’t an after picture, which I think they’re all pretty thankful for.)

Brace yourselves: this is where I beer-vomit some photos featuring a small sample of the breweries in attendance. And there’s an obvious, unfair bias towards breweries that have animals in their logos.


Even more beer

So much beer so little time

Huge perk for me: ANGRY ORCHARD WASN’T ON THE LIST, BUT THEY WERE TOTALLY THERE. I’m an obsessive fan of Angry Orchard hard cider, partially because it tastes like apple juice mixed with beer and magic, and partially because it’s the official cider of the Maryland Renaissance Festival. Nothing makes a Maryland girl feel faster at home, or wish she were wearing chainamail.


Here’s an overview of my not-really-a-beer-girl-but-I’m-trying festival favorites:

A perk of having just conquered the Kentucky Bourbon Trail is that the brewer’s festival paid homage to the area’s obsession with whiskey, and I felt like a total authority on sour mash at a few booths.

Bourbon and Beer

The bourbon and ginger beer cocktail was DANGEROUSLY DELICIOUS; I would have gone for seconds if I hadn’t been playing designated driver. The Popcorn Sutton’s Tennessee White Whiskey + lemonade, however, my mouth is still trying to forget.

This means I finally got to sample the Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale I’ve heard so much about. Verdict: not my cup of tea. Or my cup of whiskey. Which isn’t surprising, because I’ve already admitted that I’m not that into beer or whiskey. But I have it on real-beer-drinker’s authority that it’s an excellent beer, and I should be ashamed of myself.

Toast our troops

And here’s a quick list of Jonathan’s highlights, which reflect the taste of someone who does like beer, but who also had a difficult time recalling some of the night’s finer details:

And here’s Wylie‘s overview:


Beer festival (and life) tips by Wylie: Tell the girl at the PBR booth that you will love her passionately for the rest of your life. Receive free beer koozie.

Two hours into the festival, a few of the guys found the cigar booth, and everybody’s palates were mostly numb. I spent the next two hours weaving through a stumbling crowd, trying to avoid having beer spilled on my dress. (This later proved pointless when Jonathan threw an entire pint of beer directly on my dress and face. In his defense, he was aiming for someone else and he apologized adequately; in not his defense, I have really slow reflexes, and that bra is going to smell like beer until I decide to throw it away.)

The nice part of the evening for designated drivers was watching daytime Nashville turn into nighttime Nashville.

Nashville at Night

Nashville Love

Even sober, the festival was a great way to take advantage of the city’s atmosphere. Until it started to rain. Which, at first, I’ll admit was not a big deal. Drizzling can’t ruin a curly girl’s good time when she had the forethought to wear her hair up. It can ruin her good time, however, when the drizzle turns into a torrential downpour.

And then it rained

If you look closely, you’ll see the woman with the yellow purse who spent at least a half hour dancing delightfully in the rain. What you won’t see is an asshole standing behind me who saw me holding Jonathan’s Terp’s hat and had a lot to say about how much Maryland sucks. What you also won’t see is me having a lot to say to that asshole about how he is an asshole who would have been punched in the face had Jonathan not been currently doing what you see him doing in the below picture.

Jonathan drinks beer in the rain

The heaviest part of the downpour lasted for something like 45 minutes. Which would have been fine, except 20 minutes into it a very large police officer walked up to the tent under which we were huddled; he informed us that the festival was over and then ordered us, rather angrily, to leave. I did one of those cartoon double takes at him, in which I looked at the cop’s face, looked out at the torrential rain, looked down at my leather purse, and then looked back at his face. Lessons learned: Cops and the Music City Brewer’s Festival don’t give a shit about your leather purse or your shoes after 10:00pm. They also don’t give a shit how cold you are, because you thought a 30% chance of rain didn’t warrant carrying around an umbrella and a sweater all evening, and you should pay for your bad choices. Lessons learned: Bring a shittier purse. And an umbrella. ALWAYS.

Consolation: It was the kind of downpour during which an umbrella isn’t particularly helpful anyway. And I was able to keep our smartphones from being destroyed. Admittedly, though, I’m not thrilled about having paid $60 per ticket for a beer festival at which I ruined some belongings that cost twice that much. The rain and my decision to carry leather were not the festival’s fault, but maybe next year they can employ some police officers who do their jobs with a touch of compassion. Or at least without a scowl, which I can only assume comes from years of yelling at babies and defenseless small animals.*

Lessons learned: Bring a sweater. And a towel. And maybe a space heater.

Bitching complete. I still love you, Nashville. I hope to see you soon. And to take advantage of your Trader Joe’s, which I’ve somehow been living without now for several months.

*This is probably not how police officers are trained in Nashville, but who knows.

8 thoughts on “To beer, or not to beer?

  1. SO glad Batch 19 made your list 😀 We tried it before it was released when we toured the Coors brewery in Colorado. Now it’s a long-standing standing favorite in our house… That and Dead Guy ale.

    • I actually tried Batch 19 a while ago in DC! And, if I’m not mistaken, at a bar called “19.” Which…I think was on 19th St. This sounds like something I’m probably making up, but I don’t think I’m making up that the beer is good.

  2. With all those vendors I probably would have skipped the ones I knew of and instead focused on the ones I hadn’t tried. I always try to bring crappy bags with me when I’m partying/outdoors a lot because its always sad when the good bags get ruined. I’m glad you still had some fun moments! That cop should’ve cut you some slack since you were the sober person.

    • Lesson completely learned about outdoor festivals of any kind. Maybe I’ll use this as an excuse to allow myself into the purse section at Target; I know I’ve seen American flag bags there before.

  3. Angry Orchard is my favorite thing! They sell it at the Class 6 for much cheaper than I have found off base, so if you haven’t hopped on that bandwagon you should check it out!

    • You know…I actually don’t think I’ve gotten Angry Orchard from the Class 6! It’s a dangerous place; they put all the dessert-flavored vodkas right by the checkout line, and my wallet basically falls out of my purse and into the cashier’s hand. But I’ll brave it for Angry Orchard.

      P.S. I’m a big fan of Mulligan’s on Wilma Rudolph; I had to make a strange and large bulk alcohol purchase for some wedding needs, and Mulligan’s was by far the cheapest–they are super friendly, and suggested that sometimes the Class 6 marks up their products unnecessarily because they know we’ll continue to go out of convenience anyway. I would have spent at least $200 more had I ordered what I needed from them! But you can’t deny the convenience, and I really, really hope I never need to buy liquor in bulk again. That would be a bad sign.

  4. Eek! That’s awful! There is a beer festival coming to my hometown in August and I’ve already purchased my tickets, but they were only $25! I love, love, love that Bourbon Barrel ale. It’s my FAVORITE BEER OF ALL TIME, but that’s based on my love for bourbon. Yum.

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