12 tips for getting the most out of a beer festival
- Buy tickets early. The most popular beer festivals sell out quickly, but many offer an option to buy advance tickets online. If not, contact a friend who lives in the area to snag the tickets for you or contact festival organizers to see if you can work something out.
- Prepare to leave. Even though each beer sample is small, you may need a little help getting back to your hotel afterward. Many festivals offer discounted admission for a designated driver. If that’s not feasible, use public transportation or book a hotel within safe walking distance of the festival. Some festivals provide shuttles to and from local hotels, which have much more comfortable beds then the local jail, hospital or morgue.
- Eat, eat. Fill your tummy with something yummy before attending and make sure you eat plenty at the festival if food is offered, or bring some in if it is allowed. A full stomach helps slow alcohol’s entrance into your bloodstream and you’ll feel much better in the morning.
- Water up. Be sure to stay hydrated, even if it is not a hot day. Alcohol dehydrates you regardless of the weather.
- Don’t be greedy. At most festivals, you’ll be getting 2 to 3 oz. a pour. Don’t ask for more than that in your cup. Not only will you look like a jerk, but the pourer won’t do it anyway – it’s against the law.
- Pace yourself. This isn’t a college kegger. You may be surprised how quickly your buzz can turn into something more severe when you hurry from booth to booth, especially when some of those booths are pouring high-octane ales or stouts.
- Don’t hog the table. If you have a quick question or two about the beer, feel free to ask the pourer. But don’t camp out and hold a long conversation. It’s rude to those behind you and there are plenty of other brews to sample. Besides, if the pourer is a volunteer, he or she might not know much about the beer anyway. If you want a lot of details about a particular offering, contact the brewer later or just check out the brewery’s website. You’ll probably find most of your answers there.
- Prepare for the weather. Outdoor festivals are often held rain or shine. Wear a rain jacket if it’s the former; use plenty of sunscreen and wear a hat if it’s the latter.
- Wear sensible shoes. You’ll be on your feet a lot.
- Take notes. You’ll be sampling a lot of brews. Make sure to jot down the names of those you especially enjoy so you can find them later in the store. Some festivals have programs, which makes this step easier.
- Bring cash. You might want to pick up some cool souvenirs, and if there are food vendors, they may not be set up for credit- or debit-card purchases. Also, many festivals support local groups and charities that work at making the world a better place. Drop a little folding money into their donation bucket.
- Be grateful. Thank the pourers. Many of them are volunteers, and they work their butts off at these things.
Finally, don’t be in a rush to leave the area. Many festivals are in or near historic downtowns, parks and other cool environs. Take a walk to check out the scene, sober up and learn about the town. After all, isn’t that what road trips are all about?
Do you have any other tips? Share them here.