1. Go Early: Lines will be shorter. All the beers will still be available (popular kinds start running out later in the day). Fewer sloshed beer-festers to contend with. All around, a better scene.
2. Have a Plan: Even small beerfests (and definitely the bigger ones) can feel immediately overwhelming upon stepping inside. All the booths look the same, people are everywhere, it's noisy and disorienting. Instead of just heading to the first booth you see, take a minute to look through the beerfest info. Find your favorite breweries and decide which ones to hit first while you're still sober enough to appreciate them.
3. Try Something New: Breweries often bring their most popular beer plus something unusual to beerfests. I suggest trying that "something unusual," even if it's not a style you usually go for. This is your chance to step outside your comfort zone and try something that isn't necessarily available at your local liquor store.
4. Divide and Conquer: Otherwise known as "bring friends and share samples." No matter how well you pace yourself, you'll never be able to try all the beers you'd like at a beerfest. If you come with friends and don't mind sharing sips from each other's glasses, you can try a few more beers than you would otherwise. (Bring dixie cups if you don't want germs, but be discrete as this isn't exactly encouraged.)
5. Eat Before You Come and Bring Water: Just like in college, it's good to come to the party with a full stomach and then sip water between your beer samples. This goes doubly for beerfests that take place outside under the hot summer sun. Those little beer samples don't seem like much, but start adding up quickly! It's also nice to be able to rinse the dregs from your glass before refilling.
What other tips do you have for a fun beerfest experience?
(Image: Emma Christensen)