Lollapalooza marked our second major music festival. Back in 2014, we ventured to the wide open fields of Manchester, Tennessee for Bonnarroo. At the time, I (Bailey here) was a young, fair maiden. Really, I was under the age of 21 and never acquired a fake ID. This was also pre beer Bails. Let’s just say I drank a lot of Redd’s and lime-a-ritas during this trip (gag). Going into Lollapalooza I was buzzing with anticipation. I had two years of beer drinking under my belt and I was bound and determined to do this festival right. My anticipation tripled when I perused the map and discovered that Lollapalooza had a designated area for craft beer. This would be my holy land within the festival. If I was not listening to music, my friends knew they could find me here.
With all this anticipation built, imagine my disappointment upon discovering that Budweiser was the major sponsor for Lollapalooza and therefore had a monopoly on all beer sales throughout the park. Bud Heavy, Bud Light, or Bud Light Lime…those were the options. Ever the glass-half-full kind of girl, I held out hope. I still focused on that craft beer spot that was going to save me. I might have to walk 15 minutes across the park to get to it but it would all be worth it for a good beer.
I should have known it was too good to be true. I got distracted by the giant beer mug though, and let down my guard. When I finally made it to the craft tent ready to peruse my options, what did my eyes behold? Goose Island…and more Goose Island. My guess is that there were five or six stations set up and each had about four taps. And they were all Goose Island. C’mon now Lolla, who are you fooling? Certainly not the craft beer lovers out there who know that Goose Island is owned by Anheuser-Busch. With the explosion of the craft beer industry, the big corporate beer makers have taken a hit. Buying out smaller breweries like Goose Island allow them to make money under the guise of being a “craft” brewery. The trouble is that these beers like Blue Moon, Goose Island, and Shocktop all lack the thing I love about craft beers. Complexity. I tried all the Goose Island beers Lolla had to offer and I could barely make out a difference between their pale and their IPA. Where was the beer flavor that I love? Sadly missing. I wanted hops dammit. I found myself utilizing other avenues in order to satisfy my beer itch. I either arrived late to the festival because I stopped for a beer at a bar first or I left mid festival for a beer break. Now of course I wanted to listen to the music, but through this trip I also wanted to experience what Chicago had to offer. I tried local coffee shops, ate at local restaurants, and tried to find as many Chicago/Illinois based breweries as possible. Lolla had local food vendors, why not local beers as well? Showcase that local talent. Maybe I’m blowing this out of proportion, in typical Bails fashion but I’m hoping that maybe others feel the same and something will change. Maybe the next time a girl from North Carolina travels hundreds of miles for a festival she’ll find herself with a plethora of local options vs. the “craft” brewery in Chicago that’s really Anheuser-Busch.
On lighter note…I would like to hear what everyone else thinks. Is it important to have craft/local options at festivals like this?