Summer weekends are usually jam-packed with beer festivals across the country. This is a great way to introduce new beers and beer styles to both seasoned veterans and new craft beer drinkers. While the seasoned veterans may already know how it works, the new craft beer festival attendee may find it simply overwhelming. With experience on both sides of the tap handles, we've hopefully come up with a helpful guide for a beginner.
At these festivals it's usually really hot and you find yourself in long lines, sometimes not even being really sure what the line is for. You get up to the table and all of a sudden you need to make a decision. You've heard of the brewery, but you are not sure about the beers they offer. What beer should you pick? The simple answer is that if you are not sure, just ask.
If this is your (or your friend's) first time to a beer festival, dress comfortable and arrive early. The lines to get in are usually quite long.
Here are 10 more tips that may make your first-time experience more enjoyable.
1. Do not say, "Give me the lightest thing you have". This phrase is too vague to be helpful in any kind of way. Do you mean lightest in color or lightest in alcohol? If you are not clear, you may end up with a Tripel (upwards of 10% alcohol) when you really wanted a Pilsner (usually around 4-5% alcohol). If you are not sure what to get, let the server know that you are new to craft beer and are not familiar with all the styles.
2. Do not go up to a merchandise booth and ask what beers they have. Be aware of your surroundings and of where you are. If you are oblivious to the fact that there are no taps, bottles, or coolers on the table, you may want to rethink getting another beer at all.
3. If there is a long line behind you, do not stand around after your beer is poured and offer your thoughts. Get your beer and move out of the tent. Enjoy the beer with your friends out of the way of others.
4. Do not be mean to people pouring your beer. Better yet, do not be mean to anyone. There are lots of people moving around trying to get somewhere. Sometimes your server is a volunteer; sometimes it's the brewer. Some of these people work in beer for a living - try to imagine what it would be like for you to go to work and all of your co-workers were drunk.
5. Either know a little bit about beer, or be open-minded. We've heard stories or actually have seen people throwing their beer at the server because it had sediment in it. Please do not do this under any circumstance.
6. It is not a race to see how much beer you can drink. You will not be able to try everything, so take time to enjoy what you do get. Take advantage of the food offerings and drink some water once in awhile. You may think that a couple hours is not enough time, but it really is.
7. Be prepared for long lines for the restrooms. The whole festival is about beverage intake after all. Just get a beer, get in line, and wait your turn. Don't cut in line, don't shout at people, and for the love of god, DO NOT TIP THE PORT-A-POTTY OVER. If you are germ-weary, bring hand sanitizer. Sometimes the paper towels/water runs out. Often the restrooms are beyond disgusting.
8. If you smoke, please do not do it inside the tents. For some people, smoke = gross = no beer enjoyment. Smoke outside, then place your butt in a proper receptacle (proper receptacle does not equal the ground).
9. Do not ask for more beer after the festival has ended. And as the old bar adage goes...You don't have to go home, but you can't stay here.
10. Get a designated driver, go somewhere else and sober up, or rent a hotel room. Sometimes a hotel is not an option. Anticipate for this and make necessary arrangements.
We want everyone to have a safe, enjoyable experience, and we would like to see you again at the next event.