Diary of a Lightweight: Surviving BCTC
I have a difficult confession to make: I am a lightweight. For a long time I strived to be a drinking queen like Marion Ravenwood in Raiders of the Lost Ark when in reality I was struggling to stay in the picture, like Marion Ravenwood in Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. I slowly learned to look at each beer event as a challenge for my body and mind like a runner would a marathon or anyone would a Thomas Pynchon novel. And so it was two weeks ago when I took on my greatest drinking challenge to date, the lightweight's everest; BCTC.
BCTC - Belgium Comes to Cooperstown - is an annual summer beer fest celebrating (and sampling) best of Belgian, Belgian-style beers and truly ALL-style beers from Sours to Bud Light Limes. It is two days of camping, drinking and drinking, featuring over 100 breweries and over 1 million home brewers.
The Thursday night before BCTC, I prepped at my basecamp with a normal amount of sleep and plenty of fluids. This meant water, Emergen-C in water and Gatorade. I also filled a Colt 45 cooler with the following items; coconut water, Gatorade, and a water thermos. I downloaded every episode of Death, Sex and Money and lovingly packed my choice essential oils, the scent of lavendar is calming.
The next day as I finished my packing I received a text from my trusted companion Meredith. She had locked herself out of her apartment and had been unable to grab me a sleeping bag. And so the journey began...
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Day 1: The Climb
The reason that BCTC is an insurmountable challenge to many lightweights is because of it's setting; Ommegang Brewery. Located in Cooperstown, NY on an old 136 acre hop farm, you think, "well hell, it's like I'm going to visit my grandparents, I'm barely going to drink." Then you set up camp on a lovely hill near only a few other tents and you think, "well, isn't this quaint, perhaps I will only enjoy only water on this trip."
But shortly after setting up camp you head down to the main areas for the five course beer paired dinner and you see this...
It had not yet dawned on me that this years BCTC was 90's themed. Could they have picked a decade that would make me want to drink more? Answer: No. Reason: nostalgia makes me thirsty and I am very thirsty for the 90's. Jurassic Park Gate? NSYNC and The Presidents of the United States of America blasting in the dinner tent? I was in way over my head...
This lightweight's "dinner of doom" began with my greatest nemesis: the pitcher. You know, to go with the appetizers, the things you have before you begin the five course meal - Sushi, Scottish Egg, Rabbit, Lamb, Pie - each of which is paired with a different beer - Witte, Rare Vos, Ugh - ... Jesus Christ.
After the Rare Vos I stopped taking photos. I needed to focus, My water-beer ratio was slipping. Many anxious looks to lady with the water pitcher and 2 bathroom breaks later, I was back on track, until we left dinner and trekked over to the Sixpoint Brewery tent.
The danger of entering into brewery tents at BCTC: there is always a special high octane beer afoot waiting to tear you to shreds. At Sixpoint it was their 4 beans and then masked man showed up with a 40oz of War Elephant. I had to get out of there, fast.
I can not stress this enough to my lightweight brothers and sisters the importance of keeping up on electrolytes and protein in times like these. I got back to the tent, hit the gatorade, cliff bar and Anna Sales hard and called it a night.
Day 2: The Summit
The next day as I prepared for the greatest achievement of my life, I was nervous. Many more tents had arrived and were closing in around us as evidenced by the five unlucky drunkies who tripped over the chords that kept up our rainfly. Was it a bad omen of what was to come? I kept my spirits high as we suited up to make our way to the top of these heap of beer.
A quick trip to Cooperstown for coffee and an enormous antiques barn later, we were back Ommegang and ready to go! They say it's lonely at the top and I think that's true for most peaks, but not this one. My dear friend Meredith and I went in Friday Night Lights style: clear eyes, full hearts, can't lose. Keeping up on water is easy with the sun at your back and your eye on the prize.
I tried a lot of beer, and the stand out of the day without a doubt was He'Brew's 2015 Funky Jewbelation. The other highlight was finding the Kelso tent at the end of our long day and sampling Mary Izett's delicious Jasmine Green Tea Speed Brew. Everyone NEEDS to check out Mary's book, Speed Brewing. And a bonus for this lightweight, the last tap at this awesome tent bar, a line of Seltzer. It was heaven.
I made it through BCTC alive and thriving and I'm even looking forward to surviving many more beer fest challenges. What's greater than BCTC for a lightweight? Maybe this? I'm ready, so if any of you old pros know of any, suggest away...