1. Waiting in line to get in.
The Festival started at 2pm. Nathan and I arrived with our friends Vicki and Jeromy at about 3:30 and were greeted by a huge line that was three blocks long. This was for prepaid tickets. We were told by other people in line that it was at least a two hour wait. Two hours... in 95 degree weather... with no beer. This was not a good situation. Luckily, Jeromy is magic and managed to get us through the line and in the door in about 45 minutes. He may have convinced some folks to let us cut, but I
2. Waiting in line to get beer.
In order to get beer, you had to purchase tickets. One ticket got you a two ounce taste; four tickets got you a 12 ounce pour. I had originally planned to go around to all the booths and taste everything before committing to a full cup, but the beer lines were also ridiculously long. The park was too crowded and it was hard to move around. It took about 30 minutes to get to the front of the beer line, which meant that I quickly tasted what they had and then got a full cup for my trouble. While this resulted in being able to taste less beers than I wanted, I did get tipsy very quickly. (Forgetting to eat dinner didn't help.) We stuck to brewing companies we weren't familiar with and were able to try some new things, so it wasn't a total loss.
3. Running out of everything.
For the first two hours, things were going well. We had to wait for our beers but once we got them they were delicious. We found some of the people we were meeting and were texting the rest of our group who were still in line. Two of our friends made it in at about 6pm. Our other two friends, after waiting in line for nearly two hours, finally made it to the front - only to be told there were no tickets left. Which actually wasn't too bad, because inside the festival the beer tents were already beginning to run out of 12 ounce cups AND beer! Apparently, the event organizers had planned for 10,000 people and were not prepared when 20,000 people showed up. I understand that this was their first event, but come on. They sold pre-paid tickets and had a Groupon deal that thousands of people bought. If they only had resources for 10,000 people, then they should have sold 10,000 tickets. It's not exactly rocket science.
4. Stop complaining, keep drinking.
As I said earlier, we could have had a horrible time. The lines were long, some of our friends didn't make it in, it was hot and crowded and a huge mess. And yet - we did have fun! We drank an obscene amount of beer, we sat on a hill in the sun, Nathan tired to rob an ice-cream truck, my toe got stomped and my nail bled all over the grass, we made fools of ourselves while making friends with all the drunk people around us, and we got to drink some fine beers. Will I go to the Houston Beer Fest again? Probably not. Do I regret going this year? Hell, no. I had a great time and the brutal hangover to prove it. We have a bunch of new stories and hazy memories. We had an adventure, even if it wasn't the adventure we planned. Even the Houston Beer Fest couldn't ruin that.
For some fun commentary, check out the Houston Beer Fest's twitter account and the replies they got this weekend. I heard their Facebook was also full of irate comments but they seemed to have deleted the page. Social media fail.