It’s what we’ve all been waiting for, craft beer festival season is back and it’s time to reconnect! Here are some practical tips and tricks for enjoying some hoppy libation with fun, grace and gumption.
Festivals are BACK, baby! It’s time to reconnect with friends, get to know new breweries and rediscover some old favourites.
The last outdoor craft beer festival I attended was back in September 2019 — which feels like forever ago. My partner and I attended the immensely popular Great Canadian Beer Festival (GCBF) for the first time and it was fantastic. Though we no longer live in Victoria, I’m thrilled that GCBF and other festivals are back for 2022.
As a blogger, and in my past work with the BC Ale Trail, I’ve attended more than my share of craft beer events. Because I’m essentially working when I attend events, I feel I need to represent myself well. Particularly if I’m doing a takeover or have been gifted a ticket in return for some content. But I still like to have fun, and I know you do, too! It’s been a while for all of us, so I’ve put together a little list of practical tips and tricks to enjoy a craft beer festival with fun, grace and gumption.
1. Remember to bring the essentials
- 2 pieces of ID — 1 government-issued; 1 other, like a credit card
- Your tickets — Printed or ready on your phone.
- Cash — Truth? I never remember this unless it’s explicitly listed on the event site that they won’t accept debit or credit. (#GetThrifty: Go to your bank ATM before the festival so you don’t get charged the fees of the on-site ATM. They are ASTRONOMICAL.)
- Portable phone charger — Especially if you’re going to be out all day or take a million pictures. (Like me.)
- Empty water bottle
- Small umbrella or really good rain jacket (year-round)
- SPF (summer)
- Hat (summer)
- Empty reusable water bottle (year-round)
- Small backpack or crossbody bag to hold it all
Drink water before, during and after an event. This has been my mantra since I was 19, going to country music bars with my friends. No one wants to be dehydrated (or wake up feeling rough — it’s not the badge of honour any of us wants).
There’s usually a water station available, or the kind person at your next tasting table will happily pour you some water in your taster glass. (This also pulls triple duty as rinsing the glass and cleansing your palate—if these things concern you.)
3. Don’t go on an empty stomach
Eat before or when you get to a craft beer festival. Food trucks are popular at outdoor festivals, so you won’t be lacking for choice unless you have allergies or other food restrictions. I also really like finding a spot where I can sit and enjoy my taster of that moment paired with whatever tasty goodness I’ve just bought. (Note: Nothing will be super healthy, so I tend to eat all my greens and such for breakfast and lunch.)
This, combined with #2, is the key to:
- Not being sloppy
- Extending your time at the event with fun and clarity
- Not feeling like a marching band is playing in your head or like you have cotton in your mouth the next morning
4. Dress appropriately
Check the weather for an outdoor festival; dress appropriately and for your comfort. Really, wear whatever you want, but keep it classy. And if it’s your thing, have some fun and dress up! In the cold weather months, the majority of larger indoor venues will have a coat check, so you won’t have to worry about carrying your coat around.
It’s also important to note that people inevitably bump into you at these events. Or you’ll have a clumsy moment because you talk with your hands (like me). Just be okay with the possibility that you might get a bit of liquid on your clothes or shoes.
5. Be hands-free
When you arrive at a tasting event, the first thing that happens after the security check is being given a bunch of stuff: tasting glass and beverage/food tokens. Sometimes an event brochure that is way too big to put in a pocket—but needed for the layout of the room and to know what’s what for breweries, etc. I like a cross-body purse or a big tote with a side pocket so I have easy access to my tokens and phone. The rest goes into the main compartment. Less to juggle!
6. Arrive early to beat the crowds
If I’m going to stand in line, I’d rather it be before the event, not during. At the 2019 GCBF, the Saturday queue was around the block. Because I had a media pass, we were able to go in the side entrance, but we still got there early. The benefit of this is the ability to take good photos without many people around, but also, you can hit the drink token lineup while the line is still short. Same goes for hitting up the tables of popular breweries.
7. Pre-read/have a strategy
Unless you’re very into whatever beverage or a blogger with a mission, you might think this is silly — and you can ignore this. But if you a) know what brewery/winery/cidery you want to try, b) know where they are, c) have an aversion to long lineups, this makes life so much easier.
The brochure I mentioned in #4 is simply the paper version of what will usually be available online leading up to the event. This is especially helpful if you can only go for a little bit and have certain things you want to try.
8. Make friends
Because standing in line or possibly having to share a table is par for the course, you might as well be friendly with the people around you. Craft beer festivals are jovial events and my partner and I end up having great chats with people. If you’re curious about the beer they currently have in their hand, ask about it. Or offer to take the photo that the selfie won’t be, and (bonus!) they’ll offer to take a photo for you. But always remember to respect someone’s space — everyone’s comfort level is different at the moment, and really, in general.
9. Don’t drive
While this seems obvious, it’s important to say. Not only for the obvious reason that you shouldn’t be driving after you drink, but parking is virtually non-existent at festival and event venues. Take the bus. Take a taxi. Some bigger events may offer a transit fare as part of the ticket price.
10. Be kind
Festivals will have changed a bit because of the pandemic, so just remember to be kind, respect people’s space and be an even more mindful craft beer consumer than you would normally be.
The festival events roster continues to grow for 2022. Click here to start planning your festival ale-ventures for spring and summer!
The original version of this blog post first appeared here.
Yasmine Hardcastle is a freelance writer and content creator, currently based in England. She is a born-and-bred Vancouverite with a love of craft beer, tea and exploring locally wherever she is. As the Social Media Manager for the BC Ale Trail, Yasmine is a regular contributor to the blog. She also wrote for Destination Vancouver’s blog for three years and has partnered with destination marketing organizations and attractions around the world. You can follow her adventures over on her blog, West Coast City Girl.