Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Surviving Fest Season

As many of you are aware we are at the beginning of Fest season.  From here on out it will seem like there is a beerfest every weekend.  For example this weekend I am aware of four Beerfests, none of which will my wife and I be attending.  So if you love beer and enjoy going to fests, this is your season. 

 Some of you that are reading this may have never had the opportunity to go to a beerfest.  So I will provide a brief synopsis of a beerfest:  a beerfest is usually an event that brings together multiple breweries and distributors to present numerous beers to the people possessing tickets to partake of the beer.  

I hope to help you think of ways to enjoy your day at the fest and still be functioning afterwards.  So in other words: to keep you from looking like you have never been to a beerfest.  First thing is do a bit of research about the fest, where it is, how long it lasts, what you receive with you ticket purchase and what is nearby for afterwards.  Also good facts to know are the breweries represented at the fest, as well what type of pours you will receive from each booth.  All of this will help you lay out your game plan to make it through the fest.  There are a few people that I know that take this prep work very seriously and have color coded laminated sheets for their plan of attack. 

Since almost all beerfests have websites with the above information that is a good place to start.  Usually the fest will have the information available for the fest goers a week or two in advance.  Some even have pdf files that you can print and use to devise you plan of attack.  If you do not feel like doing all of the prep work don't worry you do not have to do it if you don't want to.  Since some events are big enough for a line before the fest, you will have time to look over the book or flyer that they had out to you in line.  Also if you want you can fly by the seat of your pants and not plan, that happens to the best of us.  There are times when I have just forged ahead and just went with the flow. 

The beer available at the fest varies from light easy drinking beers to special barreled aged high alcohol beers.  An interesting way to attack a fest is to stick with one or two styles of beers.  At most fests, just tasting all that are available of a style or two will get you your moneys worth.  At some of the bigger fests like Great Taste of the Midwest, you may not be able to sample every beer of your chosen style.  If you are at a big enough fest you can chose a state or just pick certain breweries that you want to try.

Ok so you are now inside the fest grounds what to do next?  At most fests we set up our base site, this includes chairs, blankets and coolers of food and watern provided that the fest rules allow you to bring these items in, so again check the website before going to find out what is allowable inside.  So with base camp set it is off to try the beer.  Usually my wife and I start off together exploring the beers. Since almost always we are with friends we wind up spending time apart as well.  If you get separated don't worry some times that is the best time to find that one special beer.

As the day proceeds and you have hit you bucket list of beers, begin exploring for others.  The main thing is to pace yourself, if you plan on going somewhere after the event.  There is no way you can try every single beer at a fest unless it is a really small fest, so don't worry about what you are missing out on. 

The important thing is to have fun at the fest.  So if your well laid game plan does not get accomplished don't worry.  Also if possible talk to the brewers at the booths, let them know that you appreciate them being there.  At some events this is possible, but at others it is not since all you are doing is backing up a line of people wanting a sample of beer.  Another thing to do is keep track of the time, even five hours can go by in what seems to be a matter of minutes.

When the fest is over listen to the event staff and do what they say.  They are just trying to make it easy for everyone.  Since most fests are held in public places, the fest has a defined liquor license meaning they can only serve beer during the fest hours.  So do not try to get that one last beer from a booth as you are leaving.  Once outside of the fest grounds make sure your glass is empty, most cities will arrest you for open containers. 

Another good bit of advice is have a hotel within walking distance or have a designated driver.  No one needs the cost and pain of a DUI!  We plan ahead at the fest we attend for a room close by the fest grounds. 

Once back to your room make the decision of crashing or continuing to go.  In my experience if you crash you do not recover to go out later.  Hopefully you paced yourself so you can continue on to enjoy the surrounding area. 

So hopefully these are a few useful pointers to help you survive the fest season.

QC Beerguy


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