Home Beer The pro guide to GABF, part 2: How to talk to brewers

The pro guide to GABF, part 2: How to talk to brewers

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CATEGORIES: Beer   Feature  

One of the coolest things about the Great American Beer Fest is that many brewers stay at their booths to handle beer and greet fans: That means the guy or gal who dreamed up that barrel-aged strawberry porter may well be the one pouring your sample. But what to say to these beer masterminds? Here, brewers share their tips for interacting with brewers at (and after) the fest.

Brian Ford, founder and brewmaster at Auburn Alehouse

“Do ask questions, that’s why we are there. Just be respectful and try not to tell us how to brew or what hops to use; you can use whatever you like when you open your brewery!”

Konrad Connor, head brewer at Redwood Brewing

“Do say ‘hi’ and let us know what you like (or don’t like) about our beers. We all realize that it is the drinker that makes our job necessary. We love to hear from customers and their preferences, or a beer that they tried somewhere. I get a lot of ideas from the craft beer drinker. And don’t take too much of the brewers’ time, if there are others waiting to talk.”

Will Meyers, brewmaster at Cambridge Brewing

“Get a sample of the beer you’re interested in and move to the side of the booth to talk. Be mindful that there’s likely a good line of people behind you.”

Marisa Selvy, co-owner and V.P. of marketing at Crazy Mountain Brewing

“Don’t ask, ‘What are you pouring that tastes the most like Bud Light?’ or ‘What is your sweetest, lightest beer?’ because GABF is all about being adventurous and experimenting with new beers. Be bold and go outside of your comfort zone! And don’t ever drunkenly slam your tasting cup on a brewery’s table and slur, ‘Just pour me whatever has the highest alcohol…’ We brewers hate it when people don’t appreciate all the blood, sweat and tears that went into making the beer. Don’t just chug tasters to get hammered! Savor the flavor and the experience at GABF.”

Dave Logsdon, founder of Logsdon Farmhouse Ales

“Just be respectful of their time and the throngs of others that want to do the same.”

Tomme Arthur, founder of The Lost Abbey

“I’d say one of the biggest do’s is to make yourself aware. We are consumers, too, but often, we are with friends and colleagues we haven’t seen [in a while]. At the festival, brewers should be approached with no problem; at that point, we are working. When the fest lets out, survey the situation: If we’re deep in conversation with another brewer, it might not be the best time to ask us about our beers.”

Scott Baer, head brewer at Telegraph Brewing

“In general, brewers like talking about beer, their own and beer from other breweries. So don’t be shy; ask questions! If you ask something really technical, be prepared for a pretty technical answer, but don’t be offended if a brewer doesn’t want to answer every question about technique or ingredients, because some of that really is proprietary information.”

Victor Novak, brewmaster at TAPS Fish House & Brewery

“Don’t ask them, ‘What’s good?’ That’s like asking a parent which is their favorite child. Hopefully all of their beers are good. It’s a matter of preference and mood. Do ask, ‘Why does almost every brewer have facial hair?’ I don’t [have facial hair](though I can!) and I still haven’t figured it out.”

Katie Taylor, quality control manager at Grand Teton Brewing

“I like to find out what the brewers are drinking, or the beer they are most proud of. This is a great way to pinpoint the best beer they’re pouring.”

Josh Grgas, distribution manager at The Commons Brewery

“Brewers are people, so approach us like you would anyone else. The general rules of etiquette apply.”

This week, we’re bringing you tips from the experts on all things GABF. Coming up: Where brewers to go keep drinking after the fest, how to score medal-winners and more! (And yesterday: How to map out your GABF strategy.)


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