Craft beer festivals might be the best way to try a wide variety of brews and meet a wide variety of people in the shortest amount of time. And with summer quickly approaching; there will be plenty of them to attend. These events are often crowded so it is important to think about how to prepare for a craft beer festival to ensure you have a great time and try some great craft beer..
Here are seven things you should do before showing up to the next craft beer festival.
How To Prepare For A Craft Beer Festival
1. Know The Event Details
Seems like a no-brainer but you need to know the details of the event.
- Have you been there before?
- Do you know where to park?
- When do the doors open?
Don’t get lost and miss out on part of the event because you didn’t take a minute to plan ahead.
If it is a ticketed event, print it out ahead of time. And even if they offer a digital ticket, I think printing it out makes sense; you never know when your phone will decide to stop working or go missing.
Craft beer festivals range in size; so find out how many people they are expecting. This information is key to knowing if you need to arrive early and make a mad dash to the rare beers that you are wanting to try.
When it comes to craft beer festivals, there can operate in a few different ways. Here are some of the different ways that I have found:
- Drink Tickets – Each attendee gets a set amount of tickets that are exchanged for beer. The size of the beer will depend on many factors like type, ABV, cost, popularity, etc.
- Time Based Event – These festivals offer open drinking for a set amount of time; normally 2-3 hours. Be aware, that these events often allow for a VIP or Early Bird offering which gives you more time in the event and access to rare beers.
- By Consumption – Another way to handle drinks is to charge a very low entrance fee and then charge per drink. This is most common at events that offer more than just beer and have extended hours.
Knowing the set up is critical to understanding how much the event will cost and how you can best maximize your experience.
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2. Know What Beers You Want To Try
Most festivals have too large of a selection for one person to try them all. Or let me re-phrase that; don’t try to drink them all – it will end badly for you. That means you must have a strategy to ensure you get to try the beer you came for.
Find the list of beers that will be available and get to know it. I recommend picking 5-10 beers that you want to try. Rank them and start at the top and work your way down. Hopefully this strategy allows you to at least try a few of them. Many others will be doing the same thing so expect long lines. And do not be surprised if the beer you wanted is gone before you get to try it.
3. You Can’t Survive On Beer Alone
Yes, I am referring to food. While food doesn’t prevent you from getting drunk, it can help boost your metabolism so your body can process alcohol faster. Which is good when you are at a festival focused on craft beer.
But don’t wait until you get there to think about food. Eating properly before the event is just as important as eating during. Ideally, you would eat a decent meal around an hour before the event starts. Then eat food throughout the event. Keep the food light and simple. You’re there to enjoy the beer so don’t wreck your palate with spicy food. Many festivals provide pretzels which are a great snack.
In addition, you should also have a plan for food after the event. Find a place within walking distance to get a decent meal. This will help give you time to wind down from the event and transition back into the real world.
You can’t talk about food without bringing up water. Much like food, you must consider water long before the beer festival starts. Many actually recommend increasing your water intake days in advance. Your body can only retain so much water at a time, so starting early is key. Chugging a bottle of water while waiting in line to get in will only fill up your stomach and make the first bathroom break much earlier than you prefer.
4. Know Your Limit
I know that moderation seems like an oxymoron when it comes to a craft beer event but for me it is important. I love craft beer and really want to enjoy it. That means I need to be able to remember it. My goal is to try a lot of great beer; the goal is not to get drunk.
So I must pace myself throughout the event and know my limit. If you are the same way, talk about moderation ahead of time with the people you are attending with so you can help each other out. There is no amount of water or food that will fix over consumption.
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5. Know How You Will Get Home
One of the things that I love about the craft beer community is the promotion of responsible drinking. More often than not, I find that craft beer fans drink because they like the beer and aren’t too worried about getting intoxicated. However, if you are at a beer festival then it will be really hard to avoid feeling the effects of the beer.
For this reason, you must have a plan for getting back home. Make this plan in advance. Bring a DD with you (most can enter these events at a reduced rate) or consider the use of Uber/Lyft to make your night easy going and safe.
6. Get Social
Beer is a social drink. So make sure you are attending this event with some friends. It will be a great time as you try new beers and discuss them with each other.
To make the event even better, try to make some new friends while you are there. Craft beer people are some of the friendliest people around. So don’t be shy; introduce yourself. Ask them what beer they are drinking and take their recommendations for what beer you should try next.
And don’t forget about social media. People love seeing what is happening at these events so post, tweet, comment and stay engaged digitally. When possible, follow the acquaintances that you met at the event as well. If you are in Cincinnati, let’s connect on social media and try to meet up at a local event (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram)
7. Relax; Beer Should Be Fun
Remember, you paid to attend this event so get the most out of it. Don’t complain when there are lines for the beer you want to try or for the restroom. Try not to be sad when the #1 beer on your list is gone before you get to the front of the line. There is always something else that is just as great around the corner.
I find it discouraging when people start fights at events likes this. Craft beer festivals should bring people together; not cause disagreements. Knowing how to prepare for a craft beer festival allows you to be the calm one in the group and encourage others to do the same.
I wish I could attend every craft beer festival because they are all different and unique in their own way. And I do my best to get the most out of the festivals that I am able to attend.
Learning how to prepare for a craft beer festival is a huge step in the right direction to ensure that I have the best time, try some amazing beer, meet some great people and make it home safe.