I have written and re-written this opening paragraph at least ten times now. There are just so many angles I want to take to recap Saturday and say goodbye to a decade long tradition that I really love.
The first and most important thing I need to get out of the way is to thank everyone.
I know for all the first timers at BeerFest this year, you came with blind faith that this “BeerFest” someone told you about would be the best way to spend your Saturday. And while I know that’s something we can deliver on, before you showed up and learned it really was all it was cracked up to be, you put some faith in Tim/I/whoever invited you. You trusted someone’s word that what we do is awesome – I appreciate that. You had faith before you knew we’d deliver, so shoutout to the first timers who showed up on Saturday.
For people who came returning for a 2nd, 3rd, maybe even a 6th time (haven’t fact checked this, not sure who owns the record for most BeerFests attended*), THAT alone is the biggest compliment I can receive. You basically are telling me you love what I had done in the past and because of that, you traveled, you moved around plans, you gave me your time… all because you liked a party I put on before and believed I’d do it again. THOSE are the unspoken compliments I appreciate, so shoutout to everyone returning to BeerFest this year.
To those who so much as sent me a message – a congrats or whatever – thank YOU. I know we’re not 20-year olds in college anymore. We don’t have completely free weekends every single weekend anymore. People have lives. We all have missed, and will miss things. There are prior commitments that keep us out of everything we want to do… But even those texts or Facetimes throughout the day were awesome. You cared, and I appreciated the love there as well.
Then, and arguably I should’ve started here, but a huge thank you to the Taylor family – the entire Taylor family. Whether you knew you helped or not, I’m telling you all day long, you did.
Now, to properly do this BeerFest justice, let’s turn back the clocks to Friday morning, the day before The Finale and take it from there…
8am I wake up and I got my list of what I needed to do that day – clean the house, get it ready for the dozen people who’d be coming there that night coming from out of town, pickup air mattresses, pickup food/drinks, whatever other groceries, pickup the kegs (which required a car swap with my parents), setup the garage, clean the yard, driveway, everything.
I knew I could leave a few things for Saturday morning – printing the pamphlets, setting up the tent, maybe even getting a TV outside to play the Master’s – but for the most part, I’d like to get a ton done before people started arriving. I wanted to get things DONE.
Well, cleaning the house went til about noon. Even though the house wasn’t gross – it’s still HUGE (weird brag, I know). There were two bathrooms which needed to be COMPLETELY cleaned out, 700 sheets/towels to wash & dry, floors to sweep/vacuum/mop, etc. That four hours of cleaning alone was exhausting.
Then it was running around – ShopRite for food stuff, Target for solo cups, air mattresses, a new shower liner (ok maybe THAT was gross); go swap the cars so I could get the 8 kegs; go LOAD the kegs into the truck and unload them into the garage; finalize writing the last “Ten Years of BeerFest” post (which admittedly I had done 90% of on Thursday); pickup yet another air mattress from my brother’s house; show up back at HQ to finalize the pamphlets with the latest and greatest updates on who was all coming so tomorrow morning all I’d have to do is print them and FINALLYYYYY make some dinner… which, with the exception of a bag of chips, was my first meal of the day #TaylorDieting.
I legit felt like I had blinked and my entire Friday had flown by. It was now like 9pm and the messages of “Hey, I’m like 20 minutes out” started coming in. And continued to do so for the next few hours.
Every time someone new showed up, it was one or two more beers poured, with a new rush of energy seeing someone you hadn’t seen in a while, shooting the bull, catching up and…….. all of a sudden it was 3:45am!!
I knew I was mortgaging my future, but whatever. YOLO. I wouldn’t have it any other way! This was the first time I’d seen some of these people in years, I was making up for lost time.
Saturday morning rolled around and I was SHOT. 9am was about the earliest I could function and I knew the 3 hours I had allotted myself to get things done were gonna suck… and quite frankly were never going to be enough.
I had to drop the dogs off at my parents, pickup an HDMI cord (one long enough to watch the Masters outside), print the pamphlets, setup the Winner’s/Loser’s brackets in the garage on the TV’s, setup the tent, maybe sneak a shower in there so I could not smell like a foot for this day where I put myself front and center? Oh, and do that all within three hungover hours…
I was fighting an uphill battle.
OH!! And people were going to start showing up! People who I’d like to have conversations with, given they’d be traveling pretty damn far to get here, and who ALSO I hadn’t seen in a long time…
They say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results… Well, Friday-night-before-BeerFest-me is insane then, because like clockwork I always make the exact same decisions, leading to the same painful consequences.
Around noon, I realized we needed to randomize the seeding so people would know who their 1st Round match-ups were and the TV’s would then be reflecting the true brackets.
So we did what we did in 2018 and had Big Fudge pick them out of a hat. At the time, we knew we had 14 teams showing up, so the first 6 would play each other, the 7th would have a first round bye, the next 6 would play each other and the last team would have a first round bye.
Beermuda and Canada – two LEGENDARY BeerFest teams – ended up drawing those ever important first round byes!! Getting out of the first round and escaping quarters is no small feat, so this was a good way to start these two’s day.
Around 12:30, everything except for the tent being setup was done. But this 30′ by 10′ tent was still in it’s shipping box, never once looked at and who knew what a pain in the ass this was about to be!
Lucky for me, VernBoots (former BeerFest legend & Le Moyne College Dolphy Day Wizard in 2013) and Team Canada showed up and without a second of hesitation jumped in to help. “Fuck instructions, we are men” was the overall mentality and despite many #h8rs who were watching and thought we were in WAY over our heads, we finished right around 12:55. FIVE minutes until I tell people we’d be playing the national anthem and kicking things off!! YIKES!!
The things is though, we had about 10 teams there, many of which were still waiting on one or two of their players.
Then came my nightmare as I realized teams started dropping. Switzerland was out. Jamaica? Out. Garden City needed a 4th. Team USA – MY OWN TEAM – was missing its fourth! Congo was waiting on their final two to arrive. Madagascar hadn’t yet arrived (presumably playing the “fashionably late” card) and when they did, they too were still waiting on their fourth.
It was literally as if I didn’t clearly outline when we needed people there, and maybe it’s my fault not hammering that more, but here we were in the early stages of BeerFest, before the national anthem had even played, and I felt like I was falling behind the eight ball.
I knew at some point I just had to say fuck it and play with whatever teams were there at the time, and – hilariously – given the match-ups, only ONE game would’ve been able to be played!!
At the time, desperate to get things going, I said screw it…
“Everyone get in the garage, we’re playing the national anthem!!”
As we had done every other BeerFest (beside 2017), the classic Scott Stapp national anthem played to ring in our tenth and final…
After that, we were #blessed with a beautiful message from Ketch… A message that got everyone hype AF:
During that video, I remember seeing Big Fudge watching it and losing his mind… Ketch did a phenomenal job of getting everyone focused at the task at hand – it was time.
BeerFest X was about to begin!
Now, we had a few teams that needed #4’s still – Team USA, Garden City and Madagascar (hilariously both co-founders’ teams found themselves a player short heading into the big day). Lucky for everyone, we had EXACTLY enough fans/referees who were cool enough to sub in at the start of the day so that this wasn’t any issue.
Team USA recruited Sarah
(my future gf’s younger sister), Madagascar got Brownell and Garden City got Nicole. Teams were now full and it was time to let a rip!!
The first round certainly gave us some exciting match-ups and a surprising early exit! For example: Rock Nation, perennial powerhouse team, was eliminated, as was Congo (formerly Zimbabwe)… Quarters is a vicious game that eliminates even legends. A sad start for many (like myself) who wanted both Rockaway AND Annie/Alli to continue on in the tourney.
ELIMINATED WITHOUT A WIN (LOSING IN ANCHORMAN): ROCK NATION & THE DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO.
Team USA was taken to a decisive Game 3 and were almost out until Mikey Tay Tay hit (probably) 7 straight quarters and – for the SECOND time in 3 games – Taylor banged the pitcher. Team USA survived a scare from Sweden who honestly had to have been one of the best quarters teams there. They just happened to play the best.
Next was Flip Cup and that game too eliminated some greats. Beermuda sent WCS HQ resident Spaghetti Cam’s Team Scotland into the Loser’s Bracket, where Team Iceland put the finishing touches on Scotland’s day.
Then we had Garden City play against Madagascar, and to be honest, I didn’t even watch this matchup thinking the Hosford brothers had a W in the bag… Instead, the babes from Madagascar upset our boys from Long Island. One co-founder down, one remained.
ELIMINATED IN THE 2ND ROUND (LOSING IN FLIP CUP): GARDEN CITY & SCOTLAND.
In the next round, we saw Canada take down Sweden and Iceland take down Madagascar, in the Random Relay.
I already mentioned this but Sweden was probably some of the best quarters players there, and also some of the best sports I had seen. They won with grace and they lost with grace and seemed like they had a blast all day. Good sports in their inaugural BeerFests!
Didn’t mention it earlier but now that we’re here… WOW. They brought the heat to BeerFest and the only photo evidence I have of it, makes them look like they’re dropping a 90’s girls band album. The theme was snakeskin, and the result was absolute flames:
UGH. Love Madagascar. Every single freaking year I could count on them to show up in some sort of awesome attire. From coconuts bra’s & grass skirts to face paint to #SnakeskinSaturday, Madagascar ALWAYS made BeerFest a better place.
They were eliminated out of the BeerFest for the last time, but the legend of Madagascar will live 4eva.
ELIMINATED IN THE 3RD ROUND (LOSING IN RANDOM RELAY): SWEDEN AND MADAGASCAR.
AND THEN THERE WAS SIX!!! USA, Canada, Wales, Ivory Coast, Bermuda and Iceland.
Team USA was driven to the Loser’s Bracket by Slick Willy & Team Wales in Beer Pong, as was Bermuda by Producer Tim’s Ivory Coast. The Winner’s Bracket Champion was set – Ivory Coast vs Wales for the chance to go to Daas Boot!!
USA then had to play Beer Pong against Canada. Now, this may have been one of the greatest moves of all time, but Mikey Tay Tay played the entire game with his daughter in his left arm, banging cups with the other… If that didn’t define a classic “Taylor” parenting moment, I don’t know what would.
With the help of some #dadstrength, Team USA pulled off another win. They were heading to Turbo Quarters, the Final Four, and their first serious chance at Daas Boot ever.
Z & EM’s team Beermuda took down Iceland in Beer Pong, setting THEMSELVES up to meet Team USA.
ELIMINATED IN THE 4TH ROUND (LOSING IN BEER PONG): CANADA AND ICELAND.
We had our Final Four and there were some LEGENDARY BeerFest names headlining: Z, Em, Slick Willy, Miller, THREE Taylor bro’s, Matty O, P’OKeefe, Gordie, TP, Kehl, Nuch… I swear to you, looking at who was left, these were guys who were at their 3rd, 4th, 5th, even 10th (me) BeerFests.
I knew I’d be happy with any of the possible outcomes from BeerFest X.
Now let’s talk Turbo Quarters: Beermuda vs USA. Z, Em, Miller & Kelly against the Taylor bro’s, Matty O & P’Okeefe. I think Bermuda thought they were done for, I think America thought we had it in the bag, but at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter until you start playing… and the race ended up being unbelievable.
Miller & I started first for our teams – two co-founders of WCS going toe-to-toe. Each of us hit the cups and finished at the same time (let me say that again – WE FINISHED AT THE SAME TIME). Tie ball game after 1.
Matty O was second for Team USA, Z (I believe) was 2nd for Bermuda. Z hits his early, Matty O was still shooting. Next up for Bermuda – EmJem! BOOM. She hits her quarter into the cup early, BANG!!! Matty O was still shooting. Last for Bermuda was first time competitor Kelly and the pressure was ON. If she hit the cup, all she’d have to do was drink her cup and she’d have plenty of time to do so – Team USA had 3 more cups to hit and drink. But this was the first time Kelly had played quarters – EVER. Reminder that about 1300 words ago in this post, Bermuda drew a first round bye – so they didn’t have to play quarters. SHE LITERALLY HAD ALL THE PRESSURE IN THE WORLD AND WAS NOT READY FOR THIS AT ALL.
Matty O hit his cup, and I yelled “28-3!!” kinda half-heartedly, figuring maybe it’d make a few people laugh, but also… you never know, right?
Matty O passes the quarter. Mikey Tay is next. BANG – IMMEDIATELY IN THE CUP!! He chugs!!! ON TO POKEEFE!!
Now we have Kelly shooting knowing the lead hasn’t just crumbled, it’s gone. The pressure had to have been unbelievable.
P’Okeefe hits his cup – BANG!!!
It was literally all over for Bermuda – they had a 3-1 lead (the most dangerous lead in BeerFest Turbo Quarters they say) but their clock had struck midnight. It would be 4th place for Team Beermuda.
P’Okeefe finished his cup and Team USA was on to Civil War – ONE WIN AWAY FROM THE BOOT!!
4TH PLACE FINISHERS (LOSING IN TURBO QUARTERS): BEERMUDA.
In Civil War, Ivory Coast and Wales squared off first in the Winner’s Bracket – winner goes on to Daas Boot, loser plays the USA… which at that point, felt like the team of destiny.
It was a close matchup, it was I think it was as close as 3 cups on Ivory Coast’s side, with 2 on Wales, before Ivory Coast picked off the final two. Ivory Coast was on their way back to Daas Boot for the 2nd year in a row!! They had changed one of their players from their 2018 championship team, but some people just know how to win, kinda reminiscent of Team Turkey early in the history of BeerFest – the same core guys just knew how to win!
It all came down to who they’d be facing: a Wales team who has been so close SO MANY TIMES (they had been Top 6 in four of their 5 years of play), or Team America – a team who caught every break all day long and had, FOR YEARS, boasted they were the best boot chugging team the tournament had ever seen… they just couldn’t get there (you know, THAT small problem!).
Wales and Team USA went off and I’m not sure if any of Team America even got eliminated. MAYBE POkeefe did. But the Taylor bro’s were absolutely tagging cups and Wales was toast.
The book was written. The Taylor brothers would square off for the last daas boot.
3RD PLACE FINISHERS (LOSING IN CIVIL WAR): WALES.
Holy shit. Talk about a storybook ending. Who cares who won at this point? A Taylor, no matter what, was going to win the FINAL Lourde Taylor’s Cup.
For ten years I had been doing this thing, and since 2009 I hadn’t been to the boot. The rest of my team had never gotten this far, despite years of being touted as the top dogs, despite years of KNOWING we could do the boot infinitely faster than the ones we were witnessing. Sure most of this particular team hadn’t been to, or “trained” for, a BeerFest since 2015, but it was like riding a bike, right?
Facing them, Ivory Coast was just there – they literally JUST won Daas Boot at BeerFest IX in 2018. They had been winning all day long, and honestly they’re all currently in the primes of their drinking careers**.
It was a hell of a match-up between the two sides and the result – the overall race – did not disappoint one bit:
Breakdowns of relay times (unofficial):
TEAM USA: 57.6 seconds
- M. TAY – 10.6 seconds
- TAYLOR – 15.1 seconds
- MATTY O – 21.2 seconds
- P’OKEEFE – 10.7 seconds
IVORY COAST: 57.6 seconds
- GDANKY – 13.6 seconds
- CORIN – 9.1 seconds
- TIM – 19.7 seconds
- TP – 15.2 seconds
(DQ’d: The man who passed the sentences all those years was now dying by the sword. If you watch closely enough, after Matty O went, I booted. That’s a two minute penalty. That was game, set, match. I DQ’d my own team. OOPS!)
24 beers annihilated in less than one minute.
It was insanity. It was legendary. But just like that, it was over.
BeerFest X. Ten years of good times. 450+ people. Over.
Finally we had closed the book on one of the best executed ideas I’ve ever had in my life.
There were multiple times I was asked on Saturday, “Why is this the last one?” or “Is this REALLY the last time you’re doing it?” or my personal favorite, “You can’t quit NOW!!”
The thing is, Saturday reminded me of how exhausting BeerFest can be and how frustrating it can be to throw. It also reminded me how great BeerFest was and why I did it.
EmJem at one point gave a speech thanking me. Big Fudge said some words. Vern did as well. A million people all day that knew what I go through to make it happened thanked me, told me how much they appreciate it. And, no bullshit, it really does mean a lot – I know people are thankful for what I did… What I did was pretty fucking awesome.
But it’s time.
My answer to most of the people asking why I’m stopping is that I am insanely proud of what I did. It brought together 450+ people who, I got to know WAY better over the years. And if they EVER crossed paths somewhere in the world, they can talk about the same party they all attended – hosted by yours truly, Lourde Taylor.
I get credit for starting the BeerFest network. But the BeerFest network, all 450+ of you, get credit for building it THAT big.
Hosford, thanks for starting this with me.
Jake, thanks for letting me turn Columbus’ attic into my own personal playground.
Tim, thanks for helping me buy the WCS HQ and agreeing with me to do things like this in it!!
Dad, thanks for hammering it into my brain I can literally do anything (whether it was true or not, I believed it).
I got a text from Matty O last night that said he didn’t believe this was the last one, that there’d be another BeerFest. And that’s fine – he can think that. Shit, maybe he’s right!
But all I can tell you is the God’s honest truth and that’s that I truly believe it was the last one.
We did it. It was a long road traveled but the road has ended with repeat champions from Essex Fells, NJ – the Ivory Coast.
The decade of BeerFest is over.
* = besides myself obviously. I know Fletch & Scott Thieke had the longest consecutive playing streak for a while but I honestly have lost track of this… It’s a real shame more statisticians out there couldn’t track BeerFest better.
** = This may be a bold claim, but given the age gap of probably an average of 6 years per player compared to Team USA, you get the idea… Ivory Coast was certainly CLOSER to their prime.