A beer festival can be a great place to try new beers. In a bar or restaurant, it can be difficult to try something new. If you don’t like it, do you drink it anyway? Ask for a new drink knowing full well you will have to pay for both? Pass it off on your date? Whichever choice you make, someone is going to be disappointed. At a beer festival, you are only served a small portion of each beer and if you don’t like it, you can always pour it out and try something new.
The great thing about a beer festival for the “new” craft beer drinker is the variety. Most festivals publish a list of featured brewers and beers being tapped prior to the event. I’ve seen festivals that have over 150 different beers and those that have over 500 different beers. You are bound to find something you enjoy with those kind of choices.
I highly recommend spending the extra money to purchase VIP tickets to any beer festival you may attend. VIP tickets usually get you into the events at an earlier start time. Since there are less people at the beginning of an event, you have time to talk to the people pouring beer. You can describe the kind of beers you typically enjoy and they will almost always offer suggestions, even if it is with a different brewery. Sometimes the brewers themselves are pouring, but often beer distributors and volunteers who like beer can be found behind the taps. There is a wealth of knowledge that these people have to share if you have the time to ask them. Once the general admission crowd gains entry, the pourers will be swamped until their beer runs out.
I also highly recommend having a plan. Take the time to do a little research prior to the festival. Find out which brewers are providing samples and if you can, which specific beers will be tapped. This will save you some time sampling beers that you may not enjoy and will lead you to beers that you want to experience.
One last tip, but probably the most important. Pace yourself. Remember, especially if you are not used to drinking craft beer, the alcohol level is often higher in craft beers. Even though you are usually provided with a 3 – 6 ounce sample, these samples pack a major punch. Go slowly, drink lots of water, and remember to reflect on each beer, not just chug. After all, you are here to try new beer, not drink yourself into a stupor.