Jeff Wharton is the Co-Founder of Drink Craft Beer, a Boston-based craft beer and local food event company that started in 2006. Having attended, poured at, or organized beer-related events for the last dozen years, you can say he’s a bit of a connoisseur. (Check out his upcoming Boston Beer & BBQ Fest, this July 14 and 15, for proof.)
Since it’s officially beer fest season, I asked Jeff to pass along some of the best tips he’s gleaned from years of worthy service. From remembering to have fun to remembering to eat, here’s his advice for doing your next #beerfest right.
Most importantly: “Have fun! Booze, friends, food… this should be easy!”
Drink water and eat food
This one should be obvious, but still bears repeating. When I see someone who’s enjoyed themselves a little too much, the first thing I do is grab them a bottle of water or hand them a food voucher. The benefit is two fold: if you’re eating or drinking water you’re NOT drinking more beer, and food in your stomach slows your body’s absorption of alcohol. Both make for a more fun fest experience. The beer will still be there, don’t worry.
Don’t try everything
Seriously. Don’t be that person. At our fests there are at least 75-80 beers. At 2 ounces per sample, that’s 150 ounces of beer… otherwise known as 12.5 beers over the course of three hours. Now imagine one of the convention center-sized fests with 250+ beers. You’d have to drink 42 beers-worth of samples to try everything! So relax, don’t be type A about it, and enjoy.
Dump out beer you don’t like
This relates back to the last one. Almost as important, you don’t have to drink all of everything you get. If you take a sip and a beer is just not up your alley, take advantage of the spill buckets. This alone could keep you on the right side of your limits, and is a tactic we’ve long employed. Let’s face it, alcohol isn’t health food…it’s for enjoyment. If you’re not enjoying it, what’s the point? Just keep tact in mind on this one; don’t dump it right in front of the brewer.
Try a style you’ve never heard of
Don’t be afraid. You might find something you never knew you loved. Worst case, use tip #3; you’ll learn something and toss out an ounce of beer. You’re already in the door, the pours are free.
Don’t be afraid to check out your favorites
If you’re like most people at a beer fest, you prioritize the new, novel, and limited. But make sure you don’t miss out on an old favorite as well. Why? Good beer fests often have the brewers behind the tables, or at least a deeply knowledgeable staff. It’s a great chance to connect with a brand you like, and possibly learn something new about your go-to beer. You can always ask for a light pour.
Don’t take it too seriously
This one is the most important. Have fun! We’re not saving lives; we’re serving little samples of craft beer (and food, sometimes). If you want to make a game plan, plot a route of attack, prioritize every beer you’ll have, and get in line early, be our guest. But don’t feel bad about just freewheeling it if you walk in 30 minutes after doors open. Honestly, I’d rather hear people saying they had a great time and can’t wait to come back with their friends, than to hear that people geeked out over some obscure beer (don’t get me wrong, I’ll take both quite happily). But we’re in the hospitality industry and are just so stoked to share this food and beer that we love with a big and growing community. We want you to have a good time. So you do you, just make sure to have fun and be safe.