I Went to My First Beer Fest - Here’s What I Learned
Standing in line, we barely felt the cold wind that is so typical of a late winter day in the Chicago ‘burbs. We were here for our first beer fest, and the electric energy of the crowd was enough to keep us warm. It was going to be a fun day, we were sure.
And we were right; The Naperville Ale Fest-Winter Edition was a fun day. Really fun!
But we learned a few things along the way that will make our next beer fest even better! Check it out:
Your pretzel necklace reveals a lot about you.
Not having one will id you as a newb. Having a lame one might be even worse.
Just walking up to the line, it was already clear that we were beer fest virgins. We didn’t have a single pretzel on us, much less an elaborate string of cheese sticks, jerkies, candy covered pretzels and the like.
When a group in line with us (below) shared that they’d actually diagrammed out their necklaces before stringing them, we knew we’d be incorporating this strategy into Beer Fest 2.0!
150 beers in an afternoon is a lot! So are 18.
The Naperville Ale Fest was host to more than 150 craft beers, plus a few hard ciders and other specialities. And entrance allowed us each 18 3-oz. samples.
No matter how accustomed you are to copious amounts of alcohol (we’re not), 18 3-oz beer samples really add up. If you wouldn’t normally drink the equivalent of 4-1/2 bottles of beer in 3 hours, you might want to consider sipping -then dumping- all but your favorite samples. Or be ready for an un-fun sensation the next day. Your call.
Designated drivers are rad!
See above: 54 ounces of beer is a lot!
When the end of the beer fest rolled around, we were so happy we had pre-arranged for a member of our Open Wide the World Pie Team to pick up The Beer Team. We decided then and there to never attend a beer fest without a DD.
You oughtta know something about beer.
We’re borderline wanna-be hipsters (minus the clothes, hair, and mustaches) and we like a good craft beer flight. So we arrived feeling like we knew more than the beer basics.
But the number of varieties of beers, plus the number of brewers able to talk about them, made us realize that the more a person knows, the more they can appreciate the opportunities of a beer fest.
And so we resolved to continue learning about beers as we continue attending beer fests, to get the most out of each experience.
See our Beer Page for some beer basics to better prepare for your next beer fest, too:
Divide and conquer!
After the fourth (or was it the eighth?) sample, it got a bit challenging to remember what we had tasted and what we had thought of each beer. And that was despite having brought a notepad to jot down thoughts.
We knew we'd need a better game plan for our next beer fest. We devised that going forward, each Beer Team member would pick a beer style or two to study before a fest and then taste at a fest, to be able to more intelligently discuss after a fest.
With these tips, we are ready to look experienced, avoid a hangover, stay safe, understand our beers and actually remember them at our next beer fest.
What tips would you share from your favorite beer fest?
Tell us about it in the comments!
Cover & pin image courtesy of Debbie Donato
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