10 tips on rocking beer fests

Beer festival outside_craftgeek
Taken from Jack Black 🙂

Craft beer fest season has already begun, with seemingly an event (or 2) each weekend. Prioritising the ones you go to aside, there are some good ways to best enjoy the festivals. And I don’t mean by drinking ALL the beer and just getting hammered (again, this might be about priorities :-p). If you really want to make the most out of the festivals, where there are often over 100 different beers to taste, read on.

  1. Do your research before hand – read up about which breweries are going to be at the festival, and what brews they’ll be pouring. That way you can start formulating a strategy of which ones to taste.
  2. Bring sunscreen and/or a hat – seriously. It doesn’t matter if the forecast says “overcast”, spending up to 8 hours outside in South Africa means that you will absorb some UV rays. You know that old adage, drinking in the sun make you even more pissed. It’s true. Just ask any cricket supporter :-p
  3. Take some pre-emptive “regmakers” – I like McNabs for an overall boost, but everyone has their poison. Essentiale, Cruciale, McNabs Tab, Bioplus… you get the drift. It’ll help with surviving a long day as well as not wanting to crawl into a deep dark hole the following day.
  4. When you’re there, get a map (if available), grab a beer and sit and plan the rest of the day – I like to start the day with a beer I already know, so that I can strategise the rest of the festival without thinking too much about what I’m drinking. The bigger festivals will always have some sort of map showing breweries, food stalls and toilets. Pick one up, grab one of your familiar favourites and mark which breweries you’d really like to taste. Don’t forget to taste your highest priorities first… otherwise you may not taste them at all (due to being hammered, or the beer running out)
  5. Eat something – sounds like simple advice; but often when drinking, eating is a last priority. I’m guilty of this ALL THE TIME. I then regret it in the morning…
  6. Make notes (if you’re that kind of craft geek) – You might be chasing Untappd badges, or you might want to give feedback on RateBeer; if that’s your thing, a notebook for tasting notes will help. It can get hard to review beers on the spot. Also, be respectful – if you’ve had a few too many and don’t think you can trust your judgement anymore, take note of the beer and try it again another time (see point 4 about prioritising)
  7. Talk to the brewers – if you don’t know the brewers or their wares, chat to them. They’ll tell you what they were aiming at with each beer, and often they’ve got cool stories to go along with their brews. They’re fun and approachable, I promise!
  8. Try tasters first – firstly, this will save you a whole bunch of cash. Don’t undercut the brewers by just doing tasters, but I’d recommend you get tasters on brews/styles you’re totally new to. It is the best way to taste the biggest variety of beers.
  9. Have some water in between – this helps to keep you fresh, but also to cleanse your palate. It takes a trained judge to taste a light lager straight after an imperial IPA or stout and not think it’s insipid. Even the best do it, so snack on something flavourless or drink water between brewery stands to keep your tastebuds as objective as possible.
  10. Have a blast! – If you don’t like everything you taste, that’s cool! If you go to the fest just for one brew or one brewery, that’s cool too. Not everything will appeal to everyone, and in the end you’re there to have fun. So go forth and conquer!

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