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Beer Fests! A survival guide

Photo © Brewers Association.


It seems that every time I go to a beer festival, that there are too many underprepared people.  I have been to more than a few of these awesome events, and I hope that I can impart some bits of logic to help you out.



1. It all starts the night before.

If, for  example, you are going to a regional, or national festival, i.e. GABF or the more local OBF, we tend to get excited about being in a new place. We tend to go and immerse ourselves into all the places we have been hearing about for so long. We stay out late, don’t drink enough water, forget to eat. We don’t sleep well, and by the morning, feel like junk. Nothing beats a good nights sleep and water. Keeping hydrated, getting good sleep and eating good, hearty meals will go a long way.

2.  The hours before the festival.

We all remember those days back when we would “pre-funk” before heading out to the bars, or going to a house party.  Now, it always sounds good and all, but doing so before heading out to a fest is, well, for lack of a better word, detrimental.  You know you will be drinking some of those tasty brews soon enough, so there is no need to “warm up”.  There is a fine line between the guy who’s having fun, and the guy who’s had too much fun.  Drinking responsibly is important. Not only to yourself, but to those around you.  No one wants to get cut off and kicked out because they cannot handle themselves.  Besides, tickets to those events can cost upwards of $60 or more.

3.  To the beer!

Personally, I like to know exactly where the restrooms and water stations are.  Sounds mundane to some of us, but these things are important.  At the larger festivals, lines, even for the men’s room, can grow pretty long.  Once you have your “commerative” glass/plastic cup, go for it.  Now remember that you are not the only one thats been in line, waiting for the doors to open.  Go to the brewery you’ve been waiting for to try that amazing new rhubarb mushroom imperial pale ale.  Make sure you know where the line starts, because nobody likes a “cutter”.  Grab your taste, admire it, and chat up the brewer/owner/whoever is there to represent the brewery, but keep in mind that there is still people behind you that would like to do the same, so keep it brief.  You can always come back around for another sample.  Keep the water flowing!  Find a snack.  Both of these will help you keep the party going.  Grab some schwag if you’re into that sort of thing.  Who doesn’t love a hoodie with a drinking rhubarb/mushroom thing on it?

4.  The sad, sad end..

Every festival comes to an end.  It is inevitable.  But you’ve tasted some amazing (and more than likely some absolutely terrible) beers.  You’ve tasted some truly inspiring beers that maybe, you would like to try to make at home, or some you would prefer to never hear from again.  But, if there is one thing that i cannot stress enough, it is that you have been drinking beers for a while now.  Grab a cab.  Have a friend pick you up.  Do not drive.  That is, above all else, the most important thing to remember.  Nobody wants anybody to get in an accident after such a fun night.  Be responsible.  Not just for yourself, but others that are also on the road, with you or in another car.  Take that cab and grab a late night snack, and enjoy the evening.


I hate to reiterate that, but sometimes you just have to.

Remember that these events take a lot of time and volunteering to work.  Be kind and courteous to everyone around you.  They are there to have a good time, talk beer, and enjoy the energy of the industry.


Be safe!




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