Midwest Beerfest: The most fun I’ve had before 4 p.m.

Beerfest was absolutely packed. This photo is courtesy of my co-judge, Sierra Scott.

Saturday’s Midwest Beerfest was… well, it was kind of amazing.

It was packed — so packed with loopy beer lovers that at points, it was sort of hard to move around.The afternoon had a crazy party vibe. Any time someone would drop and shatter a tasting mug (which was more frequently as the afternoon progressed), the whole crowd would stop, raise their mugs and cheer. At one point, Ronnie “The Danceman” Choy played Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline,” and at the appropriate moment, all the attendees stopped and sang along: “SO GOOD! SO GOOD! SO GOOD!”

Our array of wings. Bubba's was No. 3 -- the one with the lime.

I was there in an official capacity — as one of four official judges for the chicken wing contest that organizers added last year. This year, they had us judge blind so we couldn’t be swayed by which restaurant cooked which wing. But apparently we like what we like. My co-judges (Sierra Scott, her main man Harrison Schenk, and Good Life Guy Bower, chose the same winners this year that we chose last year.)

Our overall favorite was again the cinnamon-infused, meaty wing cooked by Bubba of Bubba’s Nekked BBQ. The most creative award went to chef Ben George of Tallgrass Country Club, who cooked a nice Thai wing coated with sesame seeds and cilantro. (He also submitted a wing so horrifically spicy that several judges and crowd members were seen writhing in pain. When I gave him a good talking to later, George laughed and said, “They weren’t that hot last night.”

Sierra and I, moments before Ben George's spicy wing set our mouths on fire.

The judges: Sierra, Guy Bower and me.

Two-time defending chicken champ Bubba Leffew, owner of Bubba's Nekked BBQ. Look behind Bubba and you can see his grandson, Bubba's little sleepy sous chef.