The DeLand Craft Beer Festival is quickly approaching so I thought I would throw together a list of 20 beer festival tips. We will start with some of the more common sense things but these are in no particular order....
1. Check the website - Most festivals have website nowadays and a good one will give you everything from a schedule of the events to a map of the venue to a list of the breweries represented. Plan your day so you don't miss out on your favorite brewery or a presentation you really wanted to see.
2. Check the website - Yes I have listed this twice! Know the particulars of the venue. Where is parking? Do tickets sell out early? Is there going to food served? Where is the main gate? All this information and more should be on the website.
3. Decide how you are getting home before going - Whether you are booking a hotel within walking distance, taking a cab or having someone pick you, put a plan in place well in advance of the beer festival!
4. Food and Water - Eat a good hearty meal before the festival and drink plenty of water during the festival. Your body will thank you later! I recently saw someone wearing a camelbak at a festival. Now that is someone that planned ahead!
5. Dress Smart - Check the weather forecast for the day of the festival and dress for the occasion. Will you need a rain coat? What about sunscreen? A jacket? It's a beer fest not a fashion show so dress comfortably!! Most importantly, wear comfortable shoes!!
6. Take your time and talk to people - Chat with your fellow festival goers. Chat with the people who are pouring your beer. The volunteers at a quality beer festival will be able to tell you about the beer you are drinking and answer any questions you have. Often times you will get to talk directly to the brewery rep and if your lucky the brewer. There is no better time to inquire about what you are drinking. But just be careful not to over stay your welcome!
7. Drink Less, Drink Better - Beer festivals often have hundreds of varieties to choose from. Attempting to try them all will just end in failure or worse! So refer to number 1 and plan your trip!
8. Take notes - Whether is with good old fashioned pen and paper or with your I-Phone, don't be afraid to jot down a few notes about the beers you are trying. My favorite technique is to simply snap a picture of anything I want to try again.
9. Travel light - Of course you need your ID, your ticket, your cell phone and some cash but do you really need to haul around your backpack or over sized purse all day? If you want something to collect beer swag in then choose a light weight shoulder bag or fanny pack. Your back and neck will thank you later.
10. Don't forget your ID - Whether you look 21 or 81, you must have an ID on you. Most beer festivals will ID each and every person that walks through the gate. If you don't have an ID you may have just wasted your money on an unusable ticket!! And be sure it is a government issued ID, driver's license, passport, military ID. A student ID will not suffice even if it has your birth date on it.
11. Dump and Rinse - If you don't like a beer there is no reason to continue drinking it. The person pouring the beer will not be offended if you dump the beer in the dump bucket. After all that is what it is for. And don't be afraid to ask for a rinse of your glass. You probably don't need to rinse after every beer but a quick rinse after a particularly strong flavored beer will help you get a true taste on the next one.
12. Try new stuff - Sure you want to check out your favorite breweries but a beer festival is an awesome opportunity to try something that you have never tried before.
13. Drink Local - You might be amazed at how many breweries are local. Check to see if any of them are being represented and check them out.
14. Keep an eye on the time - You would hate to hear the last call bell before you made it to your favorite brewery.
15. Relax Don't Worry Have A Homebrew - Are there local homebrewers serving at the festival? If so you can often find some really great and really creative brews being served up.
16. Be Grateful - Most of the pourers are volunteers, so be kind and thank them for choosing to be on that side of the table instead of your side.
17. Drink and Act Responsibly - Know your limits and don't exceed them. What is the point of spending all that time and money if you are just going to black out and forget it!! This also applies to knowing where things are that you might need during the fest. Where are the food vendors? Where are the restrooms? How long are the wait times? Don't wait until the last minute and find yourself in a desperate position.
18. Have a Little Respect - A little respect goes a long way. Most festivals are put on by a team of volunteers. Respect the time and energy they have put into the event that you are enjoying.
19. Be aware of your environment. Someone has to clean up after you and fix what you break. Don't be "that guy or gal". Use a trash can, pick up after yourself, and don't go places or do things you know are off limits.
20. If It Isn't Yours Don't Take It - Or what I like to call the "Don't Be A Douche" Rule. Not every branded item is free for the taking. You would be amazed at the things that have up and walked off after a beer fest is over. Everything from beer buckets to table clothes to branded tents. YES! TENTS! PLURAL! Thanks buddy, you just cost that beer rep and entire month's salary because you stole his $3000 tent. Please keep in mind that most big ticket items are the responsibility of the sales rep and if they come up missing that comes out of their pocket. Ask but don't beg, and if they say no then move on! And just because there is no one at the table does not mean they left their table cloth, keg, and jockey box for the taking. (I know some of you are thinking I'm exaggerating a bit but these are all things that have happened at festivals I have attended.)
I am sure there is plenty more advice that could be shared. Please feel free to chime in with any additional beer festival pointers!!