Morristown’s (Too Big?) Beer Fest

If you were one of the fortunate souls to enter the Morristown National Guard Armory in a timely manner Saturday afternoon for the overcrowded Big Brew Beer Festival, there was plenty to see and much to taste.

More than 150 craft beers were available at stations up and down the enormous hangar-like structure. Each dispensed their various brews into tiny, plastic sampling cups that were supposed to contain just 2 ounces of the precious liquid. The more generous pourers (mostly volunteers) pushed that to the full 5 ounces the cups were capable of holding.

With so many beer vendors on hand, it was easy to taste whatever beer you wanted without much hassle. Savvy beer festival veterans wore pretzel necklaces, so they could cleanse their palates between tastings.

Local restaurants including Morris Tap and Grill and George and Martha’s American Grille had food stations throughout the building to offer some quality sustenance. People could play beer pong and beanbag toss games while The Nerds performed on a stage in the corner. Toward the end of the event, the armory essentially functioned as the biggest bar in Morristown, with people dancing, drinking and noshing.

The event wasn’t without some serious snags. The massive lines to get in wrapped around the building and some people had to wait more than two hours for entry. At $50 per ticket for a four-hour event, that’s tough to swallow. Once inside, there also were some seriously sizable lines for the restrooms.

The admissions mess prompted an official apology from the event planning group—JKM Shows & Events—on the festival’s website, complete with promises to refund unused tickets. Angry beer fans voiced their displeasure on social media and on a sprawling comment thread attached to a Morristown Patch article.

Aside from the obvious fixes needed, the organizers could improve the overall situation next time around simply by staging the event outside and in the summertime. I’d drink to that.

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