Sunday, March 1, 2009

Fish Guts and Beer

If you think it's crazy to stand outside in the February cold, some even waiting in line to get in, to potentially get hit--splattered, rather--by a flying fish, then you've never been to Bockfest at Capital Brewery. Bockfest is Capital's annual winter party to celebrate the release of its Blonde Doppelbock. And while I count myself among Capital's biggest fans, I had somehow never made it to Bockfest.

The party began at 10AM but we didn't get there until around 2:30PM. Entering the gates of the biergarten, we were given bright orange bracelets with a pull-off tab marked "BEER." We headed toward the main bar area, where we traded in our beer tab (and $5) for a pint of the Doppelbock. We also got a liter-size commemorative mug, into which we promptly poured the contents of our separate cups (each person is limited to one pint of the Doppelbock and while we asked them to fill our liter with our combined two pints, they refused).

The "highpoint" of Bockfest comes at 3PM when the Kirby Nelson, Capital's brewmaster, appears on the roof of the brewery astride a green brontosaurus. Greeted with roaring cheers by the crowd below, Kirby got off the dinosaur, raised his arms, and then turned to grab a chub. Raising the chub to the sky like a talisman, he proceeded to toss them to the crowd below. These weren't just any fish, though--these were fish that exploded on impact, sending fish guts flying.

Now let me just say that little disgusts me more than fish. I attribute it to the seafood section in the grocery stores growing up, where the smell of rotting fish permeated the back of the store. And frankly, they just look kind of gross. So the idea of fish flying toward me, potentially exploding their guts on me, might be close to my worst nightmare.

Fortunately, I managed to avoid impact. Another girl was not so lucky--her back turned to the flying fish, a chub smacked her squarely on the back, sending fish parts spewing down her coat. Other people tried to catch the fish in their upturned mugs. Supposedly an intact fish head netted you a free beer--as much as I love Capital beer, that isn't enough of an inducement for me. But I'm glad to say that I've finally been to Bockfest. And that is some damn fine beer, worthy of a strangely wonderful Wisconsin winter festival.