What if I told you that for typically $50 or less, you could go to a place and drink as much beer as you can stomach. A place where breweries you love, breweries you hate and breweries you’ve never heard of mingle among each other with rarities for the tasting. A place where live music and the smell of freshly seared meat provide the backdrop to your tent-hopping, cup filling Saturday. Sounds pretty great, doesn’t it? Well it is. And you’re going to mess it up.
There are a handful of faux pas that are made at a beer festival. These blunders are sure-fire ways to ruin either your day or someone else’s. Here are the top 5 ways (in no particular order) you’re doing a beer festival wrong.
1. Not Eating
You’re about to be ingesting copious amounts of alcohol. Copious. The last thing you want to do is imbibe on an empty stomach. If you’re really thinking ahead, you’ll have eaten a hearty breakfast or lunch, depending on what time your session is. But, c’mon. We both know you’re not a planner. It’s for this reason, that there are numerous places to grab a bite at a festival. Don’t ignore them. Grab a kebab, a burger, a taco, some popcorn or whatever floats your boat. The important thing is that you grab something*.
*I specifically didn’t recommend pretzel necklaces. Pretzel necklaces are a very divisive subject amongst festival goers. Some hate them. Some love them. Most have no opinion. Regardless of where you stand, know the risk of looking like a hero or a zero when you’re rockin’ your salty snacks in jewelry form.
2. Shouting “Ooooohhh!!!” when a glass is dropped
You’re walking in a crowded space, increasing your BAC with every sip and holding a wet glass while walking on a wet surface. Broken glasses are a 100% certainty during each session and it may even be you doing the dropping. While that’s bad for a handful of reasons (broken glass is bad, losing your primary drinking vessel is bad), the worst thing that happens when a glass is broken is the “Oooohhhhh!!!” that is yelled by the dozens of strangers within earshot of the crash. Humor me and please provide an acceptable situation where cheer-shaming a stranger for an unfortunate accident is acceptable. If the busboy drops his tray of empty plates on the way back to the kitchen sure, you take a peek to see what happened. But does the entire restaurant erupt as if a rapper from their crew just served up the knockout punchline in a freestyle battle? I didn’t think so.
3. Wearing your super obscure beer shirt
Festival Goer #1: “What’s that beer on your shirt? Hühnerficker Doppelbock? I’ve never heard of it”
Festival Goer #2: “Yeah, I get that a lot. They’re a German brewery that produces just 10 barrels a year. Sorry, I meant produced. They haven’t been in production since 1691. According to Wikipedia, they may or may not have even existed. I’m trying to recreate the recipe in my homebrew lab at home.”
Festival Goer #1: “Oh. Umm. Okay.”
Don’t be Festival Goer #2. When in doubt, wear your local brewery’s shirt, a shirt with no beer context at all or maybe even a “Bud Light” shirt to be ironic, but please, please don’t be the shirt guy.
4. Trying. Every. Single. Beer.
At the last year’s STL Microfest, there were over 60 breweries in attendance and hundreds of beers to sample. Hundreds. If trying that many beers sounds like a good idea to you, allow me to do the consumption math for you because something tells me it’s not your strong suit.
With the samples restricted to two ounces per pour, if you tried 150 beers, you’d consume 300 ounces of beer during your session. That’s like drinking an entire case of beer (25 cans to be exact) in 4 hours. We’re not talkin’ 5% macros, either. You might die, you might not, but it’s not going to end well.
5. Lingering at the taps
Lingering at the tap causes traffic jams in tent-hopping flow. This is an egregious error for reasons I shouldn’t have to explain. The main reason lingering happens is because people want to make small talk with the person pouring their beer. Typically this is no big deal when you’re at your local bar but this is a special circumstance where being short, sweet and moving along is encouraged. Furthermore, making small talk with the pourer isn’t always the best idea because of who that person might be.
Three types of people pour beers at a festival: Brewers, Eye Candy or Volunteers.
- Know everything about the beer
- Want honest feedback on taste
- Can answer any question you have but don’t have the patience to do it with everyone
Eye Candy (male or female):
- Friends of the brewers or potentially bartenders/servers at the brewery
- Usually know nothing about the beer other than the name, maybe the style and that “It’s really good.”
- Cannot answer 75% of your questions
- Were told where they’ll be pouring that morning
- Potentially have never had a beer from that brewery until that day (and maybe not even that day)
- Cannot answer 95% of your questions
While they’re all great people with a lot of great qualities, they don’t need you (or the 500 other attendees) to make small talk with them. The only conversations you should be having with them should be to compliment the beer, the service, or maybe to ask about a specific aroma or ingredient you taste (and don’t be surprised if they don’t know the answer). Just hand over your glass while making your request, spend the pour time reading more about your choice, take your glass back and step back from the line.
There you have it. The 5 things you’re doing wrong at a beer festival. If only there was a list that told you the 5 things you should be doing at a beer festival. That would be extremely neat.