Summer Beer fests are a quintessential staple to any craft beer lover anywhere, and most people end up going to at least one. Whether it’s your first time out or you’re a seasoned veteran, beer festivals are a great way to meet new beers, brewers, and geeks. Start exploring the wide and wonderful world of American craft beers. Seeing as most beer festivals do contain, well, copious amounts of beer, there has evolved a certain level of expectations about how one is to behave and certain pointers when patronizing these festivals.

Pretzel Necklaces: These are a common sight at most beer festivals, and besides being a great trendy way to cleanse the palate in between tastings. Hard pretzels  don’t work nearly as well as soft pretzels, mostly because over time the hard pretzels soak up moisture  from the atmosphere and become soft and soggy. Soft pretzels also, since they are doughy, also can help absorb the alcohol.

Drink Plenty of Water:  This cannot be overstated, most beer festivals will provide free water for both palate cleansing as well as just for drinking to prevent dehydration. Beer is a diuretic, and will dehydrate very quickly. On a hot summer day, you can imagine how sick one can get from dehydration and copious beer drinking. They will always have port-o-potties present for people to urinate so don’t be afraid of making multiple bathroom trips from drinking a lot of water. Also, most beer festivals will let you bring in your own water, which is nice to have just in case the in-house supply runs dry. That happens more than anyone would like to admit on a hot day.

Sample Size: Seriously underrated aspect of beer festivals. If you go to beer festivals solely for the purpose of socializing and drinking beer in a super social setting (which is totally legit btw), by all means disregard the following . If, however, you go to explore and try as many craft beers as possible (like me), you won’t get very far doing 12 ounce “samples” of beer. Having taken some tasting classes, I have found that you can properly asses a beer in as little 2-4oz. Most festivals stick to around 6 oz samplers but you don’t need that much unless you really like the beer. Also, DO NOT BE AFRAID TO THROW BEER OUT. Those buckets at the end of the table are specifically for that (there’s also a lot of grass that would appreciate a good “watering”). If you ask for a certain size sample and they give you more, don’t feel obligated to drink it unless you really want to.

Food: Again, stuff to soak up alcohol and slow its absorption into your system is a good thing. Eating a decent sized meal beforehand rich with carbs, protein and fiber is ideal. Protien and fiber because they digest slowly, and carbs to help absorb the beer when it gets into you’re system. Food like subs, burgers and other sandwiches are great for this, especially with a side of fries or chips. Its not a bad idea to eat at the festival too, even if its something light. Try to balance how full you’re stomach is with all the beer you’ll be trying.

Intoxication: This isn’t a college frat party, and generally you run the risk of getting kicked out if you start acting belligerent or overly rowdy. Nobody wants to be that guy, and there is usually a police presence to ensure the safety of those in attendance. That being said, it’s a beer festival – as long as you’re not breaking laws, drink to your heart (or stomachs) content (capacity)! Just remember that if you pass out at said beer fest, the person that has to drag you out of there probably isn’t going to be too happy. Buzz kill.

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