Nate and I went to the Winter Beer Dabbler over the weekend. We had a ton of fun as always. I thought instead of giving you another boring recap of the festival though, that instead I would write a post of tips should you ever attend one. I realized over the weekend that Nate and I have been attending beer festivals for five years now, so obviously, we’re experts. I kid, but we have learned a number of useful things, so without further ado, here’s my guide to attending a beer festival.
- Drink water. We try to make sure we’re drinking about a bottle of water every hour or so. It’s harder to do at a winter festival when it’s colder outside, but it is so important to do it. At some of the summer festivals we’ve done we’ll even up that to two bottles every hour if it’s hot with little shade. This has really helped us not overindulge, keeps us hydrated and no hangovers ever.
- Dress for the weather. If it’s hot, light layers are a must. Wear sunscreen. Bring a hat if there isn’t going to be much shade. Wear comfortable shoes. If it’s cold, bundle up. One thing we didn’t do well this year for the Winter Beer Dabbler was wear extra socks, we ended up buying some at one of the merchandise tents so we could warm up our feet.
- Bring a buddy and share. Obviously I have a built in buddy with Nate, but it really helps, we get to try more things without overindulging.
- Eat food. Food helps soak up alcohol and often these festivals have some great food from food trucks, it’s almost like the State Fair where you have opportunity to try lots of different food. We usually hit up at least one or two food vendors and share a little something.
- Hit up the more popular breweries early on in the festival. We know from experience that Surly Brewing for example will always have super long lines, so we try to hit them up right away.
- Realize you will likely not hit every booth. Many of these festivals are huge and have more breweries in attendance than you could possibly ever hit up in one day. We try to seek out breweries that are new to us, that we haven’t heard of before or that might be here from out of state.
- Not a beer fan? Get a DD driver ticket – we have found that at a lot of these events, the DDs are treated like royalty, they get their own area to hang out, tons of free food, coffee, pop, etc. The DDs can still participate in other fun activities like games, live music and of course the food trucks too.
- Find the cider. If you’re not a beer fan but enjoy something a bit sweeter, look for booths that have cider. There are a lot of places making cider now, at the Autumn Brew Review we found there were more cider places than we could even try, so even someone who isn’t as huge of a beer fan may find something they can enjoy.
- Play games, take a break and enjoy the music, socialize. It’s good to take a break from drinking and you just might meet someone new!
- Plan to have a safe ride home. Since we have Ollie to take care of once we get home, we make sure we can still safely drive, but we’ve used a designated driver before too and it’s nice to know that you can let loose a little bit too. For the Winter Beer Dabbler we cut ourselves off with plenty of time to feel safe to drive, but for something like All Pints North, we have Ollie stay with his grandparents and get a hotel within walking distance of the festival. We are pretty good at self policing, but if you are worried you might not be, be sure to plan for that ride home, use Uber or a taxi – there are usually cards at the entrances of the festival with numbers you can call should you feel you cannot drive at the end. No one will judge you. Safety first.
So there you go! My quick and dirty guide to enjoying a beer festival. Again, these are tips that have worked for us or are things we have learned over the years. Someone else might tell you something different! As for the Winter Beer Dabbler, as I said, we had a ton of fun and I’ll leave you with a couple of pictures. Cheers!