It’s a sunny June Saturday, a slight breeze and a few clouds keep the temperature from rising too high. People wearing sunglasses smile at each other in small groups. Tangy teriyaki and spicy buffalo waft over the manageable crowd from nearby food trucks. A DJ spins and cuts a timeless playlist on vinyl. The deep green grass feels like a red carpet to hundreds of specialty beers. That’s all that’s missing—the sensation of taste, the reason I’m here, at the Biggest Little Invitational that’s sold out, still with no lines. How did Beer NV manifest fantasies I didn’t even know I have?
Pretty much every single thing about The Biggest Little Invitational was perfect this year. The location, Bartley Ranch, is an elegant horse ranch turned regional park for everyone to enjoy. No sign of being in a big (little) city. The festival layout was super convenient, down to the fact that I could glance at the food truck options as I walked into the beer tent area (efficiency, people). Food truck options were few but fantastic and totally sufficient for the crowd size. All the beer tents were set up on the cool grass, and there was even a large covered picnic table area for eating! The bathrooms were a short walk away (good idea), and the water station stood readily available near all the commotion. Plus, the DJ put on some solid tunes that I never scoffed at (big feat) and even my boyfriend’s mom openly enjoyed.
Let’s get down to the beer: I paid $50 for my ticket. I probably drank at least $100 worth of beer (counting up all my few-ounce pours). Don’t ask me how many pours. I’ve been into “setting daily intentions” lately, and that day, I was determined to drink all the good beer I possibly could. I sure fulfilled that promise to myself. The retail price of just two bottles of the beer I was set on drinking would have maxed out the ticket price. I don’t have the budget to buy Lambic whenever I feel like it (always), so getting as many pours of barrel-aged/wild ale/mixed fermentation/fruited sour (no kettle, plz)/anything from Belgium was my prerogative. However, I did end up drinking all the other beers there by proxy. I don’t discriminate.
By the end of the day, I was wobbly but somehow executed a Lyft pickup back to the hotel for my people and me. Five stars for that guy. The only things I’d recommend for next year are:
1. A couple more port-o-potties. The line got a little long towards the end.
2. Instead of giving out free plastic water bottles (the Santa Cruz Slug in me is cringing), set up a water-bottle-filling station. Then sell plastic water bottles if you have to for those who *gasp* forgot to bring their refillable ones. And advertise that—“bring your refillable water bottle this time!” Less waste. Cheaper probably?
3. Cut me off at some point (jokiiiiiing). I feel bad for the lad I made open a 750ml of Dupont with five minutes left at the festival (pretty sure that was for VIP only). “No, no, no—I see you trying to pour me that wheat ale—I want that one! The good stuff!” “You want me to open it?” “How else is it going to make its way into my glass?” That’s the bourgeoise retiree in me talking—sorry, dude (I didn’t actually say that last part, it was more like, “If you would, please—I’d love to try it” *bats eyelashes*). Anyway, thanks, because that beer’s been on my list. Check.
I’m one of those people who truly appreciates a well-curated experience. By nature, I take everything into consideration—from parking to restrooms to customer service to the actual product. And besides the couple insisting that Omnipollo is from New York (their brand is impossibly Euro, I don’t care if they brew in NY), the entire experience added up for me.
What a freakin’ blast it was. The best part was that everyone else looked blissed out, too. I can’t tell you what my favorite beer was that day because they literally were all good. I remember saying as we walked in, “I’m so happy to be at an event where I don’t have to rush to any particular tent because I want them ALL.” Thank you, Beer NV, for putting on a great event.