Mike’s Guide to Beer Festivals
Mike is the brain behind CraftBeerRaleigh.com. He created his website as a one stop shop for all things craft beer in the Raleigh area. It includes an extensive list of all the local breweries, bottle shops, and upcoming events. You can also follow CraftBeerRaleigh on twitter to hear about beer releases and other craft beer news. When Mike’s not chasing down rare beers, hanging out at local bottle shops, or visiting the breweries, he works as a chiropractor at Cary Chiropractic.
Spring is right around the corner, so you know what that means….beer festivals. There aren’t many better things to do on Saturday afternoon when the weather is nice than to head to a great beer fest. There is plenty of information on CraftBeerRaleigh.com about upcoming events and festivals that you may be interested in attending so keep an eye out. Before you do head to your next beer festival… here is some of my advice about attending these types of events.
Beer festivals can be long days of drinking. Make sure you get plenty of sleep the night before and are well hydrated going in. You may also want to get some food beforehand because the food at festivals can be expensive and you don’t want to try to drink on an an empty stomach. That=bad idea. Also, take a look beforehand at the list of participating breweries, so you can make sure you find the ones you really want to try. If you’re lucky enough to find a list that will give you a list of the beers that will be available as well, write them down or make a mental note, so that you can hit those first. Finally, if the festival is going to be outside, make sure to check the weather and ensure you are dressed appropriately.
Get there early
Try to be one of the first ones in the gates. You probably paid $40 at a minimum to go and you only get a couple of hours to drink… try to get your money’s worth.
Map it out
At a lot festivals, they will give you a map of all the participating breweries and their locations once inside. Since you’ve already done your homework and know which places you definitely want to try, head straight there. Whatever you do, skip the first couple of tents/stations inside the gates…they will be the most crowded. You can always come back to them. Those beers that you definitely wanted to have… try to find them first. No telling how long they will last.
Several things to discuss here. First, for every couple of samples you have, take a couple sips of water. Especially if you have something that’s really flavorful. It’s just a matter of time before everything starts tasting the same… this will slow down that process. Also, most festivals have water coolers/tanks at different stations to rinse out your glass. I don’t understand why people don’t use them more. I rinse my glass out before just about every new sample. Does it slow down the drinking…sure, but it makes the drinking more enjoyable when you are getting a true reading of the beer.
This is the time to try new things. Don’t think you like saisons? Try a few anyway. You’ve already paid your money so if you don’t like it, just pour it out. You may just discover that you like a certain style or brewery more than you thought you did.
Don’t be that guy
There’s nothing worse than the guy who tries to go in and drink every beer there in the first hour… Pushing to the front of the line and getting hammered early. This is not good beer karma. It will come back to bite you in more ways than one. I also hate to see that guy who’s so drunk he’s fighting with his friends because he doesn’t want to leave, even though he can’t stand up straight. Don’t be that guy.
Drink a lot of beer and have a great time…that’s what beer festivals are for. But make sure you have someone else to drive you home, whether its a cab, a friend or your parents (Thanks, Dad for all the rides!). If you have been drinking heavily for 4 hours straight it is highly unlikely that you are okay to drive home. Now that my public service announcement has been made (my parents would be so proud). Enjoy! Hope to see some of you out there soon!
For a list of upcoming craft beer festivals and other events in the Raleigh area, visit CraftBeerRaleigh.com.