- Eat breakfast. You remember all that stuff you learned in high school about how alcohol affects you more on an empty stomach? Still applies.
- Employ the 10-second rule when talking to the people pouring. A quick question about the beer or brewery is fine; diving into a yarn about your epiphany beer is not.
- Say thank you to volunteers. Handing out beer to drunkards when you can’t enjoy any yourself ain’t easy.
- Don’t ask for a bigger pour.
- Do ask for smaller pours. If tasting the maximum number of beers is what you’re after, a few ounces of each brew should do it.
- Don’t try to game the system. In most states, the fine for volunteers or breweries that fail to collect a ticket or stamp for every pour is harsh—“thousands of dollars” harsh.
- Regarding special tappings: Get your pour and MOVE ON. Don’t try to sneak a second pour.
- Do your time in the line. Sending a buddy off for more beers while you wait is fine, but holding a spot for someone who hasn’t waited at all (or worse, an entire group on non-waiters) is poor form.
- Be a good line man: Don’t annoy everyone around you by bragging about all the specialty one-off beers you’ve tasted in your life.
- Do be adventurous. Head to booths with short or no lines and try some beers you’ve never heard of; you just might find a new favorite.
- Don’t pour out a beer or talk about how much you dislike it while in earshot of the brewer.
- Have your decision made before you reach the front of the line. Now is the time for pouring and drinking, not waffling.
- Don’t block traffic setting up the perfect Instagram shot.
- Don’t pre-game the beer fest. Starting with a buzz is only going to get you plastered. On that note…
- Don’t get plastered.
- Do consider a pretzel necklace if you’re unsure of the festival’s food options. Drink a beer, munch a pretzel, drink some water, repeat.
- Don’t pee on random surfaces. Even if there’s a line for the bathrooms.
- Don’t drink beer just by ABV.
- Don’t get in a fight. If beer festivals make you angry, you’re doing them wrong.
- Don’t break up. Things may look better in the sober light of morning, and besides, no one wants to see this while they’re trying to have fun.
- Don’t cry. No one wants to see this either.
- Wear sunscreen and sensible shoes. Pack extra sunscreen in your bag, and leave the flimsy flip-flops or spiked heels at home.
- Show your beer pride, not hate. If you’ve got a favorite beer slogan or brewery shirt, now’s the time to wear it.
- Bring water if you can, or fill an empty bottle when you’re there.
- Don’t be disappointed if you don’t get the pour you want; take whatever is being offered and be grateful. It’s lame to roll your eyes or sigh like there’s not any good beer to be had.
- Don’t forge tickets. You’ll get found out, plus you’re stealing a spot from someone who paid.
- Don’t try to scam your way into VIP. (Also, don’t lie and say you own DRAFT Magazine to get into VIP. This has been tried, and it does not work.)
- Leave the kids at home. Leave your dog at home, too, unless it’s a service animal. Debate us all you want on this, but unless it’s explicitly family-friendly, a festival will be full of colorful language and sloshing beer. Toddlers and terriers get underfoot too easily.
- Don’t obsessively rate beers online during the fest. Be in the moment, and at the least, save your notes for later and try to find the beer another time.
- Do take a cab, call a ride home or take public transit. With the proliferation of ride-sharing apps today, there’s no excuse for driving under the influence.
Which festival behavior can’t brewers stand?
“I don’t mind, ‘I wish you’d brought…’ or ‘Why didn’t you bring…?’ but ‘You should have brought…’ is annoying,” says Augie Carton of New Jersey’s Carton Brewing.
“The big thing I see come up from belligerent people during the last quarter of a festival is, ‘I want your sign!’ or ‘Give me that tap handle!’” Dogfish Head’s Sam Calagione says. No brewer enjoys having to defend his equipment from klepto beer geeks.
What other commandments or tips do you have for attending beer festivals? Tell us what we missed in the comments.