Generally speaking, I like to stay away from events that are crowded, noisy, and crowded (double emphasis, I know). So too with beer festivals. I hate standing in lines, only to be shuttled off with no chance to talk with someone knowledgeable about their particular beers. So imagine my trepidation as I wandered into the First Erie Brewfest on Saturday, July 6th. I am grateful to write that I was pleasantly surprised. It was outside in a huge park so there was no noise factor. Most of the tents were staffed by folks reasonably conversant about their beers and there was never a line larger than 7 or 8 folks. The food trucks were great, although their delicious aromas sometimes interfered with my ability to get a really good sniff of some beers. It just depended on which way the wind was blowing.
The great thing about lines at beer festivals is that most likely you are standing around some pretty nice, talkative folks.
A few new beer festival rules for me.
- Survey all of the beers. Do as much research about the particular breweries as possible. The Strong Ale Fest at Avery this year had a PDF of all of the participating breweries and their beers. Last minute changes are par for the course, of course.
- Pick out one or more strands to focus on, like IPAs or Belgians.
- Stay with one strand at a time, although it will mean more walking. I would also suggest ordering the strands from light to dark, similar to a wine tasting.
- Make a simple score/observation sheet. I don’t like assigning numerical values, but I do write qualitative comments about the beer. Do I like it and why?
- Watch you food and water intake, take breaks, and let your palate recover.
- Limit your intake. Stay safe.
- Finally, I would never fault anyone who just wanted to throw back some fine beers with friends.