Generally speaking, I like to stay away from events that are crowded, noisy, and crowded (I know…double emphasis on crowded). 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 inaugural Erie Brewfest on Saturday, July 6th, 2013. 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 then 7 or 8 folks. 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.