I drove up to Chattanooga last night for Noogfest '08. You don't know what Noogfest is? That's probably because you don't find yourself spending too much time on Ratebeer.com, then. Noogfest started about four years ago as a celebration for the birthday of Matt, a friend of mine who lives in Chattanooga. For some reason, beer geeks from as far as California showed up for the even and it's been one of the largest beer geek gatherings for Ratebeer ever since. I really don't understand why. Chattanooga, until the recent opening of Moccasin Bend Brewing, only had a single brewer, a brewpub owned by the Gordon Biersch chain, and is in the middle of a region that is very sparsely populated by breweries. It's not exactly a beer geek haven. Still, every year dozens of people from all over the country show up in Chattanooga for a weekend of beer geekery.
Today started with a trip to the Moccasin Bend Brewery, which is actually just the corner of a basement sublet by a brew-you-own and canoe rental store. It's probably the smallest brewery I've ever been into. Until recently they were brewing on a homebrew system and producing 20-gallon batches to fill orders, although their up to over 100-gallon batches now. They still have less space than my old basement to work in. Still, they held a reception earlier today to show off their beers and offer a brewery tour. I got there a little early, so I offered to help out and spend the midday period mixing up beer-based bastes and barbecue sauces and tasting some of their beers. They've obviously kept the homebrewer experience alive with beers like a pale ale with pumpkin seeds and a juniper pale ale being some of their regular beers.
After that, it was off to the actual Noogfest, which was held in a back room at Big River, a brewpub just across the street from the aquarium in Chattanooga. There were easily more than 30 people this year and probably 60 beers were opened. I only got around to tasting about 20 of those at most. That sounds like an awful lot of beer, but most of the time you're tasting about two ounces per beer and it was spread out from about 4:30 p.m. until almost 1 a.m., so it wasn't exactly the same as funneling or anything. I had a great time, but I think only certain types of people can enjoy spending that much time entirely engrossed in beer through conversation, tasting, and notetaking, but then, I've always been a little bit of the obsessive type.
Now I just want to go to sleep and get back to K and the baby tomorrow.