Do you like to drink good beer? Are you curious about beer? Then get yourself to a local beer festival!
Beer fests are awesome for a number of reasons:
- You get a great opportunity to try many craft beers from local brewers and from other brewers outside your area.
- Sometimes breweries will bring awesome hard-to-get or one-time brews just for the fest.
- If you’re just starting to get into beer, this is a cost effective way to try a lot of quality beers and find out what you like.
- You can learn a lot about how beer is made and make connections with local brewers and beer lovers.
- Supporting local festivals, brewers, and other vendors!
- Oh and….BEER!
So Sally, how do we go about attending a beer fest, you might ask. Here are my tried and true beer fest tips for having fun and surviving a beer fest.
- Choose your beer fest wisely. Pay attention to the time of year and time of day that the fest takes place. I personally avoid festivals in the middle of the summer, I don’t want to be outside in the heat and humidity getting drunk and sweaty.
- Have a buddy system. Take a friend and coordinate. You can watch each other’s stuff while someone is scoping out the beer tents, share a ride to and from the event, share your thoughts on the beers, and just have fun and watch out for each other.
- Make a plan for transportation. You will be drinking. Drinking and driving don’t mix, period! So, use your buddy system and share a cab. Sweet talk someone into picking you up. Pay for a non-beer drinking friend’s designated driver ticket (some fests sell these).
- Take chairs and scope out a prime spot. Check the beer fest rules, but usually you can bring in a camping chair and/or a blanket to sit on. I always take a camping chair that has cup holders so I can hold my drink and even a friend’s if necessary. Pick a spot that’s big enough for your group and in a good spot away from smells of porta-potties and pour-outs of brewers. Shade is nice when it’s warm.
- Be respectful. Make sure you read the rules of the beer fest beforehand and go to have a good time. Understand that other fest-goers are there to have a good time and usually beer people are a laid-back folk. Relax, the lines may be long, but are worth it. If someone is getting roudy, tell a festival volunteer and let them handle it.
- Make friends. You’ll meet tons of other beer lovers at the fest, so you’ve got something in common. Like I said, they’re laid-back folk! Talk to the brewers if you liked their beer, find out how they make it and where you can buy it.
- Be adventurous. Check the beer list beforehand if available and create a plan of attack, but be flexible. Sure the line may be long for that brewer that everyone loves. But what about that new brewery over there with nobody in line? Try them instead, you might be surprised and find something awesome! Plus, no wait for beer!
- Hydrate! Take a water bottle. Check the festival rules, but some will provide free H2O if you bring your own water bottle. (these are the best!) You will be drinking a lot of beer over a few hours, you need to stay hydrated and keep from getting too much alcohol in your system. Water will help cleanse your palate between beers and rinse out your tasting glass.
- Eat! Make sure you eat a hearty breakfast/meal beforehand. Scope out the food options at the beer fest when you first get there. Know that the lines will get really long during mealtimes and at about the halfway to 2/3 point of the fest.
- Protect yourself from the sun. I’m not kidding! If it’s not raining, you could get sunburned. Even cloudy days will leave you with a red face. Apply sunscreen before you leave for the fest, and take some with you to reapply. Wear a hat to keep the sun out of your eyes and off your face. Usually a fest won’t allow umbrellas, but check the rules and scope out a shady spot under a tree if you can.
- Pretzel necklaces! This is my signature tip for beer fest. I always make these for my friends and they are a lifesaver. They help you get a little more carbs in your system to soak up the alcohol, and they are a perfect palate cleanser between brews! Take a string or ribbon (I use curling ribbon for presents) and cut a piece that is big enough to go over your head once it is tied into a circle. Then take small braided pretzels (I find these are the best, they are big enough to provide a small snack and small enough not get in your way while you’re walking around, and sturdy enough that they won’t easily break like some of the larger, skinnier braids) and run the string through one of the loops. Put on enough pretzels to cover about 1/3 to 1/2 of the necklace. Tie a knot and put in a bag to distribute to your friends. They are great conversation starters too. You will easily make friends (see tip above)!
And the most important part is to have fun! See my friend here below? She’s having fun, and is part of my buddy system!!
Check it out, she’s a veteran beer fest goer: buddy system, pretzel necklace, camp chair with cup holder, sunscreen and hat, prime location, water bottle in her bag (not shown), having fun (see the smile on that face!!).
What are your tips for beer fests?