Everybody loves a good beer festival!
WindsorEats can’t think of a better way to spend a day then enjoying some tasty brews at a beer festival. But to enjoy a festival to its fullest potential it’s good to do a little planning. Here are our tips for not only surviving but getting the most out of a beer festival.
Before the festival even starts, make sure your plans are all in order. Review the website for all the festivals rules, regulations and/or guidelines. Is there reentry privileges? Are pets allowed? Is the festival indoors or outdoors? Is there an app for the festival? These are just a few of the many questions you should be considering.
Another part of the pre-festival logistics plan should be your transportation. How are you getting to the festival and, more importantly, how are you getting home. In Windsor, Ontario, the Windsor Craft Beer Festival is located smack dab in the middle of the city and urban life. Parking is limited but transportation options are many, which is exactly the way organizers planned it.
“We purposely sought out a location that was within the heart of the city,” explains Adriano Ciotoli, one of the festivals founders and co-owner of WindsorEats. “Not only did it allow us to showcase the history of the neighbourhood we are in, but it allows us to limit the amount of people driving to the festival and encourage them to walk, ride their bike or take public transit.”
Nobody should have that moment near the end of a beer festival when they realize that keys are in their hand and they should have said “stop” three lagers ago. Be smart, safe and responsible.
Get VIP Tickets
Everyone needs to splurge on themselves every now and then. If you’re an honest-to-goodness beer lover, VIP tickets have their perks. We’ve seen everything from souvenir tasting cups, early entry to allow you some more time and space to speak with the breweries, t-shirts, early entry and more. A small upgrade of only $15 on average can make the event that much more enjoyable and give you some souvenirs to remember it by.
Cash is almost always king at festivals. While most festivals have ATM machines on site, they sometimes have lineups to use and usage fees are usually a bit high. Be prepared and bring enough cash to purchase the amount of tastings you think you can responsibly have and maybe some extra in case you want to buy something else. Beer festivals usually have other vendors selling merchandise and food. Speaking of food…
Most beer festival “experts” will tell you to eat a large, carb and fat filled meal 30-60 minutes before you arrive at the festival.
Never arrive at a beer festival with an empty stomach. Trust me on this one. Food is your friend at any event that involves large quantities of alcohol. This should help you pace your drinking and slow down the absorption of alcohol into your system.
Now, just because you at before you came, we also recommend chowing down at the festival as well. This will also help and odds are there will be some kickass dishes that pair well with some of the beers being offered.
Bring a Pen and Paper
Yes, we’re serious. While you may not think of yourself as a beer geek, you more likely than not will come across a few beers that you really enjoy and would like to purchase after the festival for home consumption. That’s where the pen and paper come in handy. Your mastery of Trivial Pursuit may have you thinking your brain holds onto knowledge like a sponge, you’ll be drinking beers and will likely forget.
Bring a Camera
Not only will you come across some interesting people and activities at a beer festival, but, there are usually items purposely laid out for guests to take their pictures with. Plus, you can always look back the next day at all the good times you may have already forgot about.
This is so important and we can’t stress it enough, we’re saying it again exactly as the heading: dress appropriately! After you’ve done your homework figuring out all the festival logistics above, make sure you’re wearing propery attire. If the festival is outdoors at the end of October, you may need a jacket, possibly even a toque or scarf. If it’s going to rain, wear a poncho (no one should miss out of good beer just because of some rain).
Know where exactly the festival is being held and what the weather forecast is. This will save you any troubles once you arrive.
“Dwell on the could haves, we must not. Focus on the solution, we must….”
Yoda was a wise, green little guy and we love his above quote. We recommend having a plan of attack for the festival. When it comes to beer festivals you’ve got to focus. Lots of festivals are now starting to have their beer lists available for download in advance. This allows you to decide before you even arrive what you want to try.
Water. It Does a Beer Drinker Good!
One of the most important rules: drink water and lots of it before, during and after the beer festival. If you don’t, things could get ugly. Try to keep a 1:1 ratio of water to beer. You’ll have to go to the loo more often but you won’t be regretting it the next day.
Bring Hand Sanitizer.
Odds are the festival uses portajons. Enough said.
Don’t Like It? Don’t Drink It.
No one is forcing you to do anything you don’t want to do. With sample sizes usually around the 4oz. range, it’s OK to dump any beers you don’t like. No one will get made at you. The main idea for a beer festival is to taste many beers, not drink every drop that is given to you. There should be dump buckets near the vendor booths or ask you can even ask the server at your next booth to dump it for you before pouring.
Stay Close By
Visiting a beer festival from out of town and staying overnight? Make sure you’re lodging as close as possible to festival site. This can even be a recommendation for those who live in town.
Be Kind, Have Fun.
Didn’t your mamma teach you any manners? It goes without saying that you should use them at beer festivals. Odds are you’ll be shoulder to shoulder with strangers and you may be bumped and spill some beer. Don’t fret. Just relax and enjoy yourself and the good beer.
Have any other suggestions to make the most of your experience at a beer festival? Leave them in the comments below!