Ultimate 6er | Beer Festival Pro Tips
We are well into the festival season and you’re out there floundering around like a fish at a beer festival. Don’t worry, I am here to help. Okay, well, I am sure you’ve got a better handle on this whole festival thing than that. You may actually be more like a wolf at a sheep sheering contest. That’s really not that much better though; really, just as bad but in the other direction. Wow, this digressed quickly… without further ado, we are leaving the beer behind in this week’s Ultimate 6er to give you six tips for your next festival!
I cannot emphasize how important this is. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! You cannot start hydrating too soon. According to the Mayo Clinic, the “adequate intake” of water for a male is approximately 3 liters, and about 2.2 liters for females. You may have heard of the rule of thumb, “8 by 8”, meaning 8 glasses of 8 ounces of water. However, that only adds up to 64 oz, or just shy of 1.9 liters of water. Different factors will affect your true recommended intake like exercise, medications, illness, etc.
If you’re like me, drinking the recommended amount of water to keep your body adequately hydrated is hard to keep up with. In that case, start taking hydration seriously about a week out from your festival (no less than a few days prior though). Your body cannot be rehydrated overnight, unless you’re in Las Vegas paying out the wazoo for a registered nurse to hook you up to an IV bag. That is an article for a different day though. A week should be enough time for your body to hydrate properly and be prepared for a long day of tasters.
Start Your Morning Off Right
Breakfast is important… yada, yada, yada. We hear it all the time, but it’s not just a slogan to sell more Cheerios and Pop Tarts. There are arguments about whether there is a “most important meal of the day” or if there’s any scientific evidence besides observational studies that would suggest negative long term affects of skipping breakfast, but I believe two things to be true. Breakfast nourishes your body after a full night sleep and fasting. Not eating breakfast before an afternoon at a beer festival can prove intolerable for most.
My recommendation, start your day off with a hearty and diverse breakfast. I like to eat a combination of protein, carbs and fruits. Protein can be the traditional eggs and other breakfast meats, an assortment of nuts thrown into your yogurt or oatmeal, or a healthy helping of peanut butter on toast. However, be careful not to over do it on the bacon and sausage if you or your family have a history of hypertension or other medical history that could warrant concern. Don’t forget to order a glass of water to down alongside that cup of coffee and/or orange juice you’re washing all that grub down with. Feel free to ask for a refill too.
Knowing Is Half the Bottle
This is something I learned the hard way over the course of many festivals. Take the time to look at the fine print for the festival. Find out if the festival will be indoors or out, will there be vendors selling food and other great merchandise, and look into any restrictions or rules. Don’t just assume that pets, children or even water bottles are permitted into the festival. I have seen people turned away at outdoor and indoor festival events because they brought their furry friend, and I don’t mean weird Uncle Pete with his blanket of hair covering his arms.
Pets create a liability that some festival hosts are not willing to accept or do not have the insurance or legal team to cover. Same goes for children, not that I am drawing any comparisons. Only one of my daughters is a wild child. Children have their own liabilities inherent in them, i.e. under age drinking. It doesn’t matter if you as a parent are okay with your child having a sip, the state doesn’t care and is not okay with the brewery/event host allowing it on their premise. Also know, some brewery events may have children present during festivals despite the rules saying otherwise. This is usually brewery family, whose children usually stay in some V.I.P. or private area during the event.
Some events will not allow you to bring your own water bottles, or even bags, into the event. In my experience, such events are usually not brewery-hosted. This is because of a couple things. There is a concern of patrons filling containers with beer and leaving with it (I am not going to encourage this by saying how) or bringing alcohol into the event. This comes down to legal concerns and liabilities again. Lastly, there is a concern about safety of the other patrons. There are concerns about missing a potential weapon in a bag, even if it there is no nefarious intent, we are talking about a bunch of people drinking in a confined space here. Things can happen that were not planned or expected. I am going to leave it at that.
Take the time to do a little Googling about the city where the festival will be held. This is another one that has just really made life easier after incorporating it into my festival routine. Figure out what the parking situation is for the area near the festival (i.e. garages, meters, etc.) and be prepared if you need cash or coinage. Look into the local restaurants too and have a small list of about two or three places in mind. Look for places that you wouldn’t mind grabbing a bite before or after the festival. I recommend a couple of choices just in case one has a huge wait or is closed for some unforeseen reasons.
If the festival is nearby, you are in luck. However, some of us live in sad places that don’t have a lot or any festivals. This means festivals are always a decent drive away. Most of the festivals I attend are anywhere from 1-3 hours drive time away. This can pose an issue if the festival is long or runs late. The risk of being too worn out from the event can be too high to make the drive home at some distances. Know your limits and plan to get a room for the night if you know it won’t be a good idea to make that drive home.
If you know you are going to want a room, I advise getting a room early. This does depend on the area and goes back to researching the destination before you go. Look into what other events are going on that weekend along with the festival. Is there a big game going on? Some rally or race? What about a larger festival that might draw additional tourists into the area. If this is the case, plan well in advance and try reserving a room about a month out from the festival to be sure you have a place to crash. Worried about the cost? Rope in some friends to go with you and split the room. I like to do this and upgrade for a nominal fee to the Full Breakfast package to enjoy the next morning. It comes out to being real cheap when you have three or four friends to split the room and package price with.
It Is Dangerous To Go Alone! Take This!
So, you figured out all you need to know about the area and the festival. You know if you can bring a back pack, water bottle and if you will be staying in a hotel that night. Ideally, you are permitted to bring a back pack and water bottle. Use that water bottle all day. I mean from the time you get up. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! Breweries love refilling water bottles too; with water, silly!
The back pack. Don’t overdo it, but make sure you’ve got everything you need. You’ve looked into it and know if the festival is outdoors or inside. So, you know if you need sunscreen, sunglasses, and, perhaps, a hat. You might want to bring your phone charger with you if you’re an Untappd addict, like myself, which might kill the battery with all the photos and WiFi usage. Pack a few snacks in there too. The food truck lines can be long and we, too often, don’t realize we are hungry until its too late at fun events like this. A snack will help hold you over while you wait in line. I also tend to pack a couple powder packs of Gatorade, Powerade, Pedialyte, etc. to throw into my water. The electrolytes will help encourage hydration and the flavor will encourage you to drink it. Be sure to leave a little room in that bag for brewery and local merchandise you might buy to commemorate the great time you had.
Don’t Forget To Have Fun
Lastly, and I sometimes forget this myself, HAVE FUN! Seriously, don’t get too caught up in your Untappd. Sure, log your beers and take your photos, but lighten up. You don’t need to professionally review or haphazardly rate every beer there. These are always a celebration of some kind. So, celebrate!
Grab your glass at the door and fill it with the nearest beer, then stop, take a breath and revel in how far American beer has come in the past 80+ years.