Well guys, we made it to the final day of this 10-day recap of the decade long tradition that is BeerFest.
It truly has been a roller coaster ride. From its birth to its adolescence, to climax and tragedy, to rebirth and now, relocation. There were many twists and turns we’ve taken since 2009, but it’s time to get to 2018’s story – a story unique as any other year (which effectively means nothing).
After 2017’s full 32-team tournament, I knew changing locations would lower the amount of total teams involved… that was just a fact of life.
People aren’t going to believe in the first year of anything, you have to build credibility in it, and then people will bandwagon their asses onto something successful. And despite this being our ninth BeerFest, moving it to NJ made it very much seem brand new again.
New location, new venue, new teams, new faces… This was, for the second year in a row, a BeerFest rebirth of sorts.
Our goal was 16 teams. I knew 32 would’ve been outrageous, not that we even had the infrastructure for it. I knew our “playing area” was really just our three car garage (the attic we previously used was about 5 times the space we were working with).
However, in maybe the most of humbling things to happen to this event, we could only get 8 teams to commit. Many, many last minute dropouts contributed to this – not that I blame anyone really, because committing to anything in 2018 was tough. I get it.
But also, was still humbling.
And leading up to the event, knowing there would only be 8 teams, there was a huge part of me worried this would be a joke. That tiny a tournament was something I threw when I was 19 years old. Plus, people were coming in from way out of town – Buffalo, DC, Virginia, Connecticut, Long Island (admittedly only an hour away), etc. If I personally traveled that far to a shitty party, I’d probably be a little pissed. I wanted it to be awesome and was afraid the small turnout would make it shitty.
But hey, such was life and I had to do a ninth in order to get to this Saturday – BeerFest X. TEN. The iconic number I’d end on. BeerFest IX was just a stepping stone to go through to get to what I really wanted.
Now, to get the proper full-bodied recap, we’ll have to turn back the clocks to the Friday before… You see, where I live is very much NOT like Syracuse. This isn’t a college town. This is like a family area where people, um, AREN’T buying kegs of Natty Light. So when I started calling around to reserve four kegs a few weeks before, I wasn’t getting prices that were $69/keg like I was used to in Cuse. Instead, Natty Light kegs were somehow MORE expensive than Bud Light kegs, and even the Bud Light kegs were about $110.
FUCK. THAT. NOISE.
So I thought to myself, let’s go to the nearest college town and find THEIR version of Party Source. If I can get 4 kegs around the same price I got in Syracuse, I’d be saving $200 – WELL worth the extra drive.
So where did that bring me??
I literally travelled about an hour south to pickup four kegs from Joe’s Liquors: Keg of Kegs, load them into my CHEVY CRUZE and drive them an hour back to Caldwell. A bold move? Maybe, but I figured it had to be done.
The idea as far as the actual execution of this tournament was simple. In our three car garage, put two quarters tables, rip through the first rounds in there, when that’s done, swap those tables out with bigger pong tables, and play all the games themselves out of there. The driveway, house & side-yard* should be plenty of room for thirty people to hang out during the games.
The plan was there, all that was left was the execution.
Friday night got aggressive with Wales, USA & Rock Nation absolutely CRUSHING beers. A classic mistake that I fall for every single year. I can’t NOT drink the night before BeerFest and every Saturday morning I wake up regretting it, wishing I was fresh and ready to go… Maybe 2019 will be the year I don’t mess that up!
(SPOILER ALERT: it won’t be)
The morning of BeerFest IX, I had to still print the pamphlets, setup the TV’s in the garage, tap the kegs, etc. All the while with my anxiety level at about an 11 outta 10, because all I can think of is how small this party would be and how I had people traveling in for this… YIKES!
Around noon, we held a ping pong lottery to determine where teams would fall in the bracket – a tradition we WILL continue this year, because it was awesome.
The only “flaw” I could point out was that it paired up a lot of powerhouse teams against each other early (USA vs. Wales AND Ivory Coast vs. Rock Nation), but that made for parity and who hates that? REALLY?!
We kicked it off, as we had for SO MANY years with Scott Stapp singing the national anthem at 1pm.
The teams in attendance for 2018 were some legendary BeerFest teams – Rock Nation, USA, Ivory Coast, Ireland, Madagascar and Wales!! These names were BeerFest staples for years and it was a really big sigh of relief from me to see guys coming back. It really was.
We had two new entries to the field, some local teams Switzerland and Zimbabwe. We weren’t sure what to expect from either, but the way the ping pong balls were selected and the bracket laid out, it was VERY possible one of these new teams could make some noise… and noise they CERTAINLY made!
The first round sent USA and Rock Nation immediately to the Loser’s Bracket against each other, meaning that EARLY in the day, one of these two BeerFest thoroughbreds would be DONE.
USA took an early 2-0 lead in a best of 5 series, but Rock Nation fought back. A decisive Game 5 this early in the day brought some energy… And guess what?
America pulled off the W!!!
Rock Nation was one of the first teams out in 2018 – a shocker nobody was expecting! Zimbabwe was the other team to leave BeerFest IX without a win – in their first year they learned the ever important lesson that you need to be able to play quarters in order to survive (this Saturday, I expect a much much different Zimbabwe team).
In the 2nd round, we saw Ireland and the USA get eliminated in Beer Pong, with the Ivory Coast, Switzerland, Madagascar and Wales still going strong.
Our Final Four was set.
First, we had Madagascar and Wales square off in Civil War. Madagascar, led by longtime BeerFest legends Howey & @ThatFrenchBitch, had made the strongest run in their history… but unfortunately, it wasn’t enough to beat Slick Willy & Wales.
Howey’s day was done, but luckily we were #blessed with this video that can live with us forever:
On to the final three teams!!
Switzerland vs Ivory Coast in Turbo Quarters of the Winner’s Bracket. Rooks vs vets… and whaddya know??
THE ROOKIES PULLED IT OFF!!!
Their first year in BeerFest and Switzerland had outright won the Winner’s Bracket, moving onto Daas Boot!!
I think heading into the finals, everyone saw they had a girl on their team and (very sexist) thought… They’re toast! There’s no way she can compete with these enormous MEN on the other teams.
Guys, we were wrong, but let’s put a pin that for a second.
Who they’d be facing came down to a Wales vs Ivory Coast best of three Turbo Quarters series (against the original rules but both teams agreed before Game 1, so we allowed it).
(REMINDER: Ivory Coast had gotten 3rd place two previous times – 2014 & 2015)
Welp, after getting beat once by Switzerland, Ivory Coast didn’t let history repeat itself. In two games, Producer Tim, Gordie, TP & Cody finally guaranteed their best finish at BeerFest, beating Wales handily in two games, and was headed to Daas Boot to face Switzerland!
Now, at this point in the day, I looked around and saw maybe 40 or so people who were having a fucking blast. The party was smaller, sure, but the energy was high. At no point did the lack of numbers water down BeerFest like I thought it would… The worrying I had done was for naught. BeerFest IX was already a success. It was just time to see who was going to be named champions.
One on hand, we had the guys from Ivory Coast, who most the people in attendance knew, and on the other we had Kyle, Phil, Nick & Colette. I think the entire WORLD thought the Ivory Coast would COAST (little wordplay there, you’re welcome) to victory. Well… the entire world was wrong!
IVORY COAST DID IT!!!!
Finally, a Taylor’s name ended up on Lourde TAYLOR‘s Cup!!
And while that race was probably the tightest we had seen since Team Turkey beat my team way back in 2009, the story was all about one person, our lone female at Daas Boot – Colette.
EIGHTEEN FUCKING SECONDS TO SLUG THREE BEERS?!?!
Go ahead, pour yourself a boot and try to do this. I dare you.
Colette was the MVP of that tournament, HANDS DOWN… Sure her team ended up as runners up, but she won the crowd, so SHE won BeerFest. Switzerland was down and needed a miracle, and Colette delivered.
Now, her unbelievable performance COULD overshadow Tim’s clutch finish on the boot, but I gotta highlight it. She pulled out a WILD comeback. BUT you can’t ignore that Tim finished when he needed to. Ivory Coast finally got over the hump and immortalized themselves in BeerFest history.
And just like that, BeerFest IX was in the books.
A few months later, I saw some of the guys from Rock Nation & Ireland at a bachelor party and we reminisced a little. ‘Rrell (another former WCS writer… Jesus, who hasn’t written for us at one point or another?) said something along the lines of, “Taylor, I gotta say, I wasn’t sure what to expect outta BeerFest this year but it was sick.”
That was exactly what I had to hear.
BeerFest was BACK.
It may not have been as big as it once was, but BeerFest wasn’t about the size (lolz)… It was about the energy. Maybe I lost that along the way, but 2018 reminded me.
Tomorrow, we’ll see 15 teams**. We got bigger. SICK. But I’m not even remotely hanging my hat on getting bigger again.
I know what it’s about now. The people who are there will bring the energy.
Thank you to all of you who read the entire dual-pentalogy… It was taxing to write but thanks to you and your support (and my employer for never checking to see what it is I do all day), I did it.
I look forward to seeing you all there Saturday, and if you can’t make it
fuck you you will be there in spirit… I promise you.
* = Our ENORMOUS backyard hadn’t yet been turned into grass yet, so half our property was essentially a dirt-patch. For BeerFest X, that will be utilized and I literally can’t wait because that spaces things out VERY nicely.
** = A first round bye will fix the odd number. DEAL WITH IT.