“Partake in the plenitude.” Say that three times fast. Now drink a bunch of craft beer and try again.

Racine’s beautiful Festival Park, on the shore of Lake Michigan, again played host to the annual Great Lakes Brew Fest. Entering the park, the fest staff passed out the glasses that would be our pass into the heaven that awaited us on the other side of the doors (that remained locked until exactly 3 p.m.). The corralled throng stood around adjusting their pretzel necklaces like bow ties while clutching their tiny glasses. I have to say, the GLBF switched it up this year. Instead of full-sized pint glasses, we were handed 10 oz pint-sized pint glasses. The jury is still out on the benefits of this change. I will let attendees debate amongst themselves on the issue.

The layout of the beer tents was different this year. Last year, large tents housed multiple breweries. This year, some had their own tents or were shared with one other brewery. Left Hand, Sam Adams, The Bruery, Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales, and Stone Brewing were among the hundred or so companies that made it out. Some of the breweries did something that seemed to be very successful. Every hour or so, they would hold a tapping of a specialty beer. Usually, they were only produced in small quantities. So, when they ran out, they ran out. Of course, attendees could still enjoy their mainstays and await the next hour’s offering. This meant long lines at certain points during the fest, but it was worth the wait.

“Homebrew Island,” is another section of the festival that sees quite a few visitors. Brew clubs such as the Milwaukee Area Brewers Group / Chicago Area Brewers Group, BABBLE Homebrewers, Society of Oshkosh Brewers, and Belle City Home Brewers & Vintners hang out and let people try their homemade, craft beer. Here, beer nerds can say things like “attenuate,” “flocculate,” and “trub” and not sound pretentious or a esoteric.

Three bands took to the stage this year. One ska, one reggae, and the sponsors of the fest, the Kilties Drum & Bugle Corp. They were awesome, as usual, with their nifty plaid kilts and berets. The Kitlies draw the largest crowd as the buglers play triumphantly to mark the end of the Great Lakes Brew Festival.

I’d like to say one more thing about the GLBF. It is quite possibly the most important. A very special thank you to all the designated drivers and fest staff that organized the rides home for people. Safety first!

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