THERE ARE many craft beer festivals all over the country. Some are organized around a well known or desired beer release; Hunaphu, Dark Lord, KBS for example, some are just to celebrate all that is good and great about craft beer.
These beer festivals can be a lot of fun as long as you take care of yourself and go in with a good mindset. At most Festivals you’ll have the opportunity to try new beers, maybe revisit some old favorites and certainly learn a thing or two about beer and the craft beer industry.
Festivals can be hard though - the crowds can be overwhelming, long lines can be boring to stand in, and over drinking is always a problem.
To avoid these festival pitfalls, here are several tips and tricks you can use to make sure you have a fun, responsible and safe day at any beer festival.
EAT: The Italians have a saying “non ha mangiato basta;” a person doesn’t get drunk, they don’t have enough to eat. Listen to the Italians, food will help you make it through the day. All festivals have food vendors or food trucks on site with meals and snacks for purchase. The food vendors are rarely included in thte festival ticket price so don’t be caught without your wallet. It’s also not a bad idea to also eat before you arrive. Have a nice big breakfast or lunch before you go. Your full belly will help keep the pace of your drinking level. Usually Bonus pro tip: Avoid foods that are spicy. Spicy foods will dull your taste buds depriving you of some good tasting beer, and we wouldn’t’ want that.
HYDRATE: This may be a no brainer but drinking water is important. Dehydration is the cause of most of the pain you’ll feel if you do over drink so hydrate before you enter the festival. Once you’re in you’ll see water is usually, should be, available at all the festival tents. Most festival goers see this water as rinse water for your tasting glass but don’t pour it out! Drink that water. As a general rule of thumb you should consume at least as much water as beer. Drinking your “rinse water” method insures you are keeping your water to beer ratio intact.
PACE YOURSELF: A craft beer festival is not equivalent to dollar beer night. You paid good money to taste some great beer so make sure you’re able to enjoy is and remember it. The day is about quality beer, not quantity. Sip and enjoy your beer. Pay attention to the flavors in every beer you sample. It’s called a tasting for a reason. Make comparisons and talk them over with your buddies. If you don’t like a beer, that’s OK, don’t drink it. There will always be a dump bucket close at hand. Take a break every now and then to enjoy the music, play a game or just enjoy the view of Savannah from across the river.
TALK TO BREWERY REPS: The reps aren’t there just to pour you a drink. Beer representatives all love beer, they wouldn’t be in the job if they didn’t. Beer lovers love to talk beer so ask questions, these guys are pros, you’ll get good answers. If you find a beer you like (or maybe don’t like) ask about the style, the hops or other flavorings used in brewing. This information will help you target beer you know you will like in the future and avoid the ones you don’t.
HAVE A PLAN: The brewery and beer list for this years Savannah Craft beer Festival is available on the festival website (it’s a good list). Spend some time looking it over. Make a plan to first visit the brewery tents you are most interested in first. That way you insure you have the opportunity to taste the beers you want, just in case the brewery runs out. and maybe avoid a long line. Another route is to try only a particular type of beer, focus on sours or IPAs or lagers. This plan a great way to look for beers you’ll want to keep drinking after the festival is over. Whateve you do Please, PLEASE, don’t try to sample everything; 150 beers, 4oz pours, that is almost 40 gallons of beer, that plan will not end well.
TAKE PICS: You are certain to find a great beer you’ll want to revisit later. Camera phones are great for taking notes and for photographing labels. You’ll appreciate your photos when you make your next trip to the bottle shop and need a reminder of the name of that one particular beer you had at the festival. Better yet there are several beer apps available that usually have a rating system, built in photo editing and space for beer notes. Untappd is a great option and has several features for keeping copious notes and details.
UPGRADE TO VIP: VIP tickets to beer festivals always have several perks that are usually worth it for the craft beer enthusiast. Early entry (shorter lines!) and access to special or rare beers is typical. If you’re looking to check off some rare beers or just expand your palate VIP tickets are usually a good bet. VIP tickets for the Savannah Craft Brew Festival are, unfortunately, sold out. Those lucky enough to snag VIP tickets will have early access and entry into a specialty beer area as well as free food and a few giveaways.
HAVE A SAFE RIDE HOME: No one wants you driving home after drinking. Have a ride ready to pick you up or plan for a cab or Uber/Lyft. Even better, the Craft Brew Festival offers a $15 Designated Driver ticket. Be cool and buy your best non-drinking buddy a ticket to the festival. You can hang out together all day, they get free water and sodas and everyone makes it home safe. Visiting and staying downtown or you live downtown? Don’t get in a car at all, take the free ferry across the river and walk home from there.
Enjoy the Savannah Craft Beer Festival but take care of yourself and those around you. Remember the event isn’t just about drinking lots of beer. There are plenty of other things to take in at the Festival, live music, a beer class with from some of Sam Adams Brewery representatives or a beer and cheese paring with Georgia’s Orpheus Brewing. I hope you sample some great beers, have some good food and a great time with friends and other craft beer lovers. Cheers!