From Snap Pop! October '99 . . . "BYE-BYE BEER FEST"
"We'd cry in our beer, except we've got no beer to cry in." 
WIT MEMO pines for the day when the large chunk of Americans currently burnishing the sharp edges off life with prescription pharmaceuticals will finally leave off messing with the rest of us who'd rather self-medicate with the fermented food stuffs that have served humanity so well that a few thousand years ago we nixed the nomadic lifestyle and commenced tilling the soil just so we could grow a steady supply of the ingredients. In proof of that adage that nothing good can last too long without someone stepping in it, the same crowd that can always be counted on to throw a triple axle should anyone whisper "liquor license" near their neighborhoods have gone and got the BEER FEST booted out of DC to, of all places, the NISSAN PAVILION in distant hinterland Bristow, Virginia
 It's Snap Pop!
And thus into the toilet goes what had proven these last four years to be as much daytime downtown DC fun as can reasonably be crammed into a few hours: getting filled to the brim with some of the freshest, tastiest exemplars of the brewer's art ever assembled so close to the corridors of power, amid the tantalizing aromas of multicultural meats a-sizzlin' over hot coals and the seductive strains of live music from two stages. Best of all, the H-street location, practically in the shadow of the Capitol, beneath skies that were eerily blue year after year, gave MD and VA visitors reason to come to town on the weekend besides schlepping relatives around museums and monuments. As the Beer Fest was only a coupla blocks from Metro Center, and just a quick, no-transfer D2 bus trip from WIT MEMO's Glover Park grotto, we could greedily guzzle pilsners, pale ales, stouts, marzens, bocks, porters, and oh-so-potent barleywines with the abandon inherent in knowing you won't be spending the afternoon calculating blood alcohol percentages, gazing longingly at coolers bristling with tap handles like Beavis 'n' Butthead at Hooters, or worrying whether the drive home will deliver you to your door, your grave, or the cross-bars hotel. 

Okay, so maybe the Beer Fest wasn't all about Getting Hammered. As premier DC beer writer GREG KITSOCK noted in new brewrag MID-ATLANTIC BREWING NEWS, upscale post-yuppie street fairs of this ilk have never been big draw s among hardcore toss pots craving a fast cheap drunk. The Beer Fest was a thoughtful homage to the brewer's craft and the American beer renaissance that consistently showcased a cornucopia of exceptional local beers. But while the Beer Fest was never about catching a buzz, our enjoyment of the Beer Fest had became so integrally entwined with the good cheer and phony camaraderie characteristic of public intoxication that we can't envision attending the Beer Fest and NOT catching a buzz. Beer that good, varied and strong (the tastiest brews were often the most potent) demands to be drunk in quantities that can make you drunk. 
But now, as if to cloak any association with Dat Ol' Demon Rum, Alcohol, the Beer Fest has been exiled to a far-flung venue forty pedal-to-the-metal miles from town and utterly unreachable by public transportation, where it's been tacked on to a two-day mega concert, almost as an afterthought: the show listing on the Nissan Pavilion's impossible-to-find website didn't even mention the Beer Fest. (Kudos, though, to the fest organizers, for at least arranging shuttle bus service from the Vienna metro.) A formerly unapologetic Suds Shindig where you could also happen to catch live music (the first Beer Fest saw the memorable DC debut of psycho surf guitar gods LOS STRAIGHTJACKETS, who perform in Mexican wrestling masks - WIT MEMO understands that the 'Jackets themselves don't even know each others' secret identities) is now a concert that happens to have great beer. 

It's just part and parcel of the way the Recovery Industry, abetted by sanctimonious sawbones currently prescribing antidepressants-du-jour with the same trust-me confidence they formerly exhibited while ladling out amphetamines and barbiturates by the fistful, has labored to expand its customer base by stretching the definition of substance abuse until it entangles anyone who admits enjoying the salutary and socially lubricant effects of fermented barley malt infused with hops, anyone not offended by Houseman's observation that malt does more than Milton can, to justify God's ways to man. The zero tolerance drumbeat began before last year's Beer Fest, when homeless advocate and wannabe politico TERRY LYNCH of the DOWNTOWN CLUSTER OF CONGREGATIONS sullied his rep for good works with a lyin' and cryin' WASHINGTON POST op-ed invoking the specter of drunken hooliganism certain to ensue from staging a "beer blast" in the same hallowed boulevards down which JFK's bier once rolled. Lynch painted this outrage as a Fast One foisted off on an unsuspecting public by that Snidely Whiplash MAYOR BARRY, but neglected to mention that three previous Beer Fests all went off with nary a hitch. This year, that same attitude found a voice in residents and merchants of would-be Beer Fest locale CAPITOL HILL/EASTERN MARKET, who kicked up such a Big Stink over the prospect of public urination that the Beer Fest folded up its tents and abandoned the District altogether. (Beer Fest organizer MARK DUROS assured WIT MEMO that Mr. Lynch's bellyaching played no part in the intended move, and, thankfully, they're hoping to give DC another shot next Spring.) 
Capitol Hill folk have better things to fret about than who's watering the pansies, given that their neighborhood remains one of the most unreconstructedly dangerous parts of town, no matter how much dough they pour into their inevitably iron-barred row houses. Chalk that up to their transient Congressional carpetbagger neighbors, who've sold DC to rural constituents as the Murder Capitol - even though they know full well that other cities snatch that thorny crown at least two years out of any given decade. They come here expecting a muggers' paradise, and the neighborhood responds in kind. In any event, those who make the Hill their permanent home can rest assured that WIT MEMO will never, ever pee on their bushes, or in their alleys. Unless it's a REAL EMERGENCY

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