It’s that time of year again …
Beer Festival Season!
Also wedding season, but no one cares about that.
Beer festival season is truly the season that tops all other seasons and, since we are almost in the thick of it, I figured we need to brush up on our festival etiquette and give some tips on what to do and how to navigate your way through the craziness.
You may be a seasoned pro when it comes to attending beer fests or you may be new to the craft beer scene; whatever your experience level happens to be, I’m here to help you get the most out of your experience while attending any beer festival!
Before the Festival
Do your research.
- Is VIP worth it? Will they be pouring special limited or rare beers?
- Which breweries will be there that you get special access to?
- I shouldn’t have to tell you guys to dress appropriately, but do bring a good pair of shoes. You’ll be on your feet for hours.
Secure a Ride.
- Be safe. Find a ride to and from this festival. Why would you even drive there? You know you’ll be drinking. Do the smart thing; if not for you, then for others.
Download Untappd or another beer tracker app.
- You’ll want to remember your favorite beers and this is the easiest way.
- Or bring a tasting book (download ours!) with a pen, but again, your phone is much easier.
Maybe a pretzel necklace?
- Though there will be food at the festival, you’ll want something to snack on and to keep your belly full.
- How does one construct such a device? Glad you asked: On a long string (long enough to go around your neck and get the end in your mouth) thread pretzels through. Tie both ends of the string together. You may also add Cheez-Its, jerky, pretty much anything your little heart desires.
Grab or make a beer lanyard to hold your glass.
- If you’re given a traditional sampling glass (once I was given one with a handle), a lanyard comes in handy when you want to use your hands to eat or text or ….
- You can either DIY one or buy a $7 one from Brew Caddy Sample Glass Lanyard
Bring a bag.
- Bring a small bag, you will want it by the end of the fest.
Arrive 30 minutes early.
- And don’t forget your ID and ticket printout.
Eat about two hours prior to arrival.
- You’ll be DRINKING ALL DAY! Seriously, eat beforehand. This isn’t geared towards being a drunk fest. This is a time to figure out what other beers/styles/breweries you like.
- Bring a little cash with you so you can eat something substantial at the festival.
Hydrate. Hydrate! HYDRATE!
During The Festival
Start light and end big.
- To get the full taste experience (or as much as you can while drinking a crap ton of beers) you’ll want to start with the lighter beers with lesser IBUs. Then move to ones with more alcohol and higher bitterness.
- IBU (International Bitterness Unit) the higher the number, the hoppier it is.
Hit up different breweries.
- Find the beers and breweries that you wouldn’t necessarily try on a night out or don’t have much access to normally.
- This is a marathon, not a sprint. You’ll be drinking/sampling for HOURS. You have plenty of time to get drunk, even though that shouldn’t be your goal. Also, you have plenty of time to sample everything you want, but if you don’t pace yourself you’ll end up getting drunk and missing out on beers you may have wanted to try.
Rinse your glass between beers.
- Every table should have a water cooler so you can rinse your glass. This will help get the other beer flavor out so it doesn’t taint your next brew. Once your glass is rinsed you can either drink the rinse water (easy and sneaky way to hydrate!) or you can dump it.
Pour out unappealing brews.
- Don’t be afraid if you don’t like a beer. Don’t feel bad if you don’t want to drink it. Don’t feel obligated to drink it if you don’t like it! Either give it to a friend who does enjoy it or pour it out! Brewers understand that everyone’s palate is different and not every beer is going to taste good to you. Hell, even they have some beers that they don’t necessarily like!
Grab those freebies.
- Yes, the breweries have their coasters, keychains, stickers, etc hanging out on the table.
- Yes, if they are in abundance/not for show, you can take them.
- I actually recommend this, some people won’t; but I am a hoarder, also I like to remember my favorite breweries and this is the EASIEST way. When I wake up the next day and find a crap ton of coasters and stuff in my purse, I think “Oh ya, that brewery was crazy good” and I can keep a look out for that brewery again.
Chat with the beer pourers.
- Each brewery has a station where you will get your samples, they will have sample pourers there, usually they are volunteers.
- USE THEM! If you can’t decide, make a quick question (don’t hold up the line) and ask them for their favorite or the popular one or the less hoppy one.
- They will probably be knowledgeable; talk to them if there is no line or if they are standing off to the side. It could actually be one of the brewers. This is a GREAT time to pick their brain and chat. People don’t think of this event as a networking event, but it really is. As long as the brewer or volunteer is up for it. Obviously don’t talk to someone who doesn’t want to chat.
Hydrate. Hydrate! HYDRATE!
After The Festival
Hydrate. Hydrate! HYDRATE!
Remember every experience is unique for everyone! This is a guide to use at your discretion; to use as you see fit. It’s your experience, not ours. Get out there and ENJOY YOURSELF!
We have a page to find a beer fest near you: Craft Beer Festival Season
And, of course, there are a ton of beer events on the Grand Unified Beer Calendar.