With the upcoming Mountain Brewers’ Beer Festival in Idaho Falls, I am poignantly reminded of the many festivals past, and perhaps more so the hangovers that followed them. I am no longer the young 22-year-old that got away with two-hour hangovers like a small slap on the wrist. In my old age of 29 years, I cannot escape the wallop of a two-day hangover when occasionally indulging a few beers past (ok… many beers past) my typical drinking habits at a beer fest. But experience is a beautiful thing, and I have gotten this whole festival thing down to a science, as noted in my most recent fest experience at the Great Vegas Festival of Beer.
Truth be told, it’s less of a science and more a list of rules I have for ultimate beer festival enjoyment. That’s not to say I always follow them, but they always make way for a killer time and a hangover much less like death.
These are The 7 Rules of Beer Festing!
Token free is the way to be.
Seriously, attending a beer festival where a $3 token gets you 5 ounces of beer is like paying double for your beer at a bar with the small added bonus of not being in a bar. Read: Just go to the bar. I understand tokens promote temperance, but I don’t like paying to get into a festival where my consumption is moderated by my unwillingness to part with even more of my money. Even more absurd are festivals with wristbands where you have to pay a fee to add more money to your wristband. As if the uber ride wasn’t expensive enough, you’re nickeled and dimed and tokened to death by the time you leave. Yeah, just go to the bar. Better yet, go to a non token based festival!
Bring your beer bestie.
Not only will you have more fun, but you’ll have a BUDDY SYSTEM! If one of you breaks too many rules of beer festing, the other will hopefully be sober enough to navigate back to the hotel using your phones with a combined battery charge of 5%. How fun!
You’ll also be able to geek out on hard-to-find brews and fight over who will have a higher unique beer count on untapped by the festival’s end. Don’t get too competitive, though, or you may end up tasting them twice! (Does that count as two check-ins?)
Know your goals, and plan accordingly.
What are you trying to achieve? Maximum unique beers? Tasting every IIPA at the fest? Trying to hit up specific breweries before their special releases tap out? Make sure you and your bestie are on the same page by discussing your plans beforehand. Or if you’re like Julie and I, you’ll finish each others sentences and beers with little spoken communication. It’s lots of eye contact and pointing. Festivals can be loud!
If you don’t like it, dump it.
This should really be rule #1, which is why I haven’t numbered the rules. It also coincides with the first rule on the list regarding token fests. If you’re at a festival like GABF or Mountain Brewers’ Fest where it’s all you can drink, there’s really no reason to drink it all. Taste to your palate’s content, but don’t finish samples unless you actually like them. What have you got to lose? Nothing. But you’ve got a really rough morning ahead of you if you go all willy nilly like it’s spring break or something. You’re not a hero by drinking all of it, and you’re not a bad guy for dumping it in the grass. Think of your future self!
H2O and food are your anti-hangover friends.
I know, I know. You’ve heard it so very many times before, but that’s because it’s true! Alcohol likes company, and while great company is more alcohol, the best company is lots of food and water throughout and after the fest. The amount of people losing their liquid lunch post-festival could be much less if only they had followed this rule. I had to say it, so there it is.
Remember to enjoy the festival features other than drinking beer.
You paid to get in, right? That ticket got you more than just unlimited booze! I know what you’re thinking. “Why would I care about anything else if I have unlimited beer to drink?” And the answer to that is this – Pace Yourself or Hate Yourself. Go boogie down in the silent disco. Get your picture taken at the photo booth. Use your liquid courage to belt out a rock ballad on the karaoke stage. These distractions are present to help you pace your drinking while maintaining your goal of a grand ol’ time. Once you’re done rocking out to the local band or jumping around at the Melvin party van, carry on with your plans of beer hunting. Just remember to take a break here and there.
Keep your eyes on the ground.
This may sound like weird advice, but you’ll have to trust me on this one. There are two reasons you’ll want to be looking on the ground at a beer fest. The first reason is to avoid stepping in liquids that aren’t beer. I’m talking about the aftermath of overindulgence and the unwillingness of the male gender to wait in line for a portapotty. Sorry to paint an ugly picture, but it’s reality. The second reason is you can find some pretty sweet swag on the ground! People drop things when they’re drunk. Every now and then I see someone dropping stuff and can return it to them. But it is more often the cool key chain or fresh t-shirt with no possible owner in sight. Score!
Now you’re ready for a summer of beer fest domination!
See you in Idaho!