In the last 20 years, beer festivals have become an incredibly popular trend, and God willing, they will never go out of fashion. The chances are slim because who doesn’t love beer? If you haven’t had the opportunity to attend one of these wonderful affairs, it’s about time you do. Beer festivals are super laid back, and there are very few rules that you need to be aware of before attending. The only thing you need to know is your limits—you’re not going to a frat party. Whether you’re a heavy hitter and can go all day or someone who needs to take it slow, you’re going to have a great time.
Aside from eating a hearty breakfast beforehand and remaining hydrated, there are a few things you’ll want to know before you show up. We want to make sure you don’t end up getting a ride home in the back of a police car. Our guide on how to get the most out of a beer festival will help you have a fun (and safe) experience.
Ditch the Pretzel Necklace
Beer festival veterans will know what a pretzel necklace is. However, if you have yet to visit a Brewfest, here’s the deal. You will see hundreds of people walking around with a necklace of pretzels swinging from their neck. It’s a piece of string that is thread through several mini pretzel twists then tied up the ends and worn as an accessory. The idea is to always have a snack on you during the festival, which is a good policy to uphold. You should have something to eat while you are sucking down beer after beer. But pretzel necklaces are no longer trendy—it’s time to elevate the game. Beer continues to evolve, so it’s time to show some respect and turn up the volume on beer festival snacks.
Try this on for size: purchase a Nerf gun bandolier (the item that holds the soft bullets) and stuff that thing with landjäger, cheese sticks, and beef jerky. If you’re not a fan of charcuterie, then it’s burger time. Similar to the pretzel necklaces, prepare some sliders and run a heavy-duty string through them. The only problem you will have is telling strangers they can’t have any of your delicious burgers.
Take it Easy
Slamming down beer after beer until you make yourself sick isn’t the goal here—stay home and drink with cousin Eddie if that’s your thing. Beer fests aren’t like going to a college party and trying to drink as much as possible before the keg dries out. There is so much delicious beer to try, you won’t be able to drink it all. If you try to, it will likely end with you passing out in the porta-potty. To ensure you can sample as many beers as possible, take care of yourself and refrain from becoming dangerously inebriated. Remember: it’s a marathon, not a sprint. Start with some of your favorite brews and slowly expand your horizons. When you begin to feel all giggly and heedless, make sure you eat something. An appropriate amount of food and water will help you get through the day.
Dress for Success
Don’t be lame and show up to a beer festival wearing a white t-shirt, board shorts, and flip flops. It’s a party, and your attire should let the world know you’re ready to have a good time. However, you also want to dress comfortably depending on the weather. The best beer festivals take place in the fall—specifically, October. You may have heard of this little thing called Oktoberfest…
So, dig out your long-sleeves, jerseys, sweaters, and other winter clothing. This will ensure you remain comfortable throughout the festival. You can even take it up a notch by wearing a stand-out USA hockey jersey or hoodie—people are sure to notice your unique style. It’s an easy way to connect with other individuals at the event and start a fun conversation. Along with wearing something unique that will get the party started, wear cargo pants or bring a jacket so you have extra pockets. You’ll want to be able to hold onto your personal items, snacks, and swag from breweries at the festival—this way, you can keep two beers in hand.
Get a Map and Scout
Almost every Brewfest provides maps of the event space. Before you do anything else, grab one the second you arrive. Beer festival rookies wander around aimlessly and starry-eyed and waste their precious drinking time trying to navigate the event. Veterans know better than to pass up the map.
The map will act as a guide to all the brewers, their location, and their offerings. It will also include information about each brewer and what they’re offering at their booth. For example, many brewers will open a keg of their most popular beers during the festival. Further, festivals don’t group the businesses in any kind of order, such as all the Russian Imperial Stouts are in one area and the IPAs reside in another. Consult the map to find your favorite brewers ahead of time and prioritize each one you want to visit. Chances are you’ll notice other tents worth trying on the way. Maps also provide crucial information such as the bathroom, ATM, and first aid locations.
Protect Your Glass
If you drop and break your glass, it puts a halt on the day’s activities. As such, you want to remain vigilant and keep it in your hands at all times. This will become hard to do as the day goes on and the beer starts to take effect. However, there’s a solution to this problem—the greatest thing to happen to beer since the frosty mug is the lanyard. A pint glass lanyard frees up your hands so you can walk around, eat, drink, and jaw-jack with your buddies without fear of losing your glass. They hold the glass better than you could! Some festivals give them out at the door as part of your entry fee and others will have them for sale. Try as you might, the brewers won’t pour beer into your hands or mouth, so be sure to grab one of these lanyards before you start the day.
You are going to see all kinds of different people at the beer fest, so take a camera or clear some space on your phone for pictures. This is a wonderful way to commemorate this experience and share it with others. Plus, people are going to want to see what you saw. The whole scene is a snapshot of America; lots of people, most of them awesome and all of them colorful. From housewives to old dudes with grey beards to 20 somethings—you name it, you’ll see it. The good thing is everyone is there for the beer! So, you’re bound to make friends and pose for pictures as you enjoy the beer festival.