With summer wrapping up, we’re knee deep in beer festival season all across the United States. From nano-fests and travelling festivals, to inaugural events or 23rd annual, each offers a chance to sample many hard to find or unique beers, chat with brewers firsthand and meet and socialize with many like-minded individuals.
Every year on the third weekend of July, the Vermont Brewers Association hosts their annual Vermont Brewers Festival. July 17th and 18th was the 23rd annual, held on the Lake Champlain Waterfront in downtown Burlington, and it is continually rated one of the Top 10 beer festivals in the Nation. This brew fest was extra special for Measured Methods, as we were able to not only attend one of the four sessions, but were able to pour for Hermit Thrush Brewery of Brattleboro, Vermont, for another. So whether you’re about to attend your first or your twentieth, we thought we would share some of our tips that we learned from both sides of the taps.
6 Tips For Getting The Most Out Of Attending A Brewers Festival
Open Up Your Mind
One of the benefits of attending a beer festival is the plethora of beers that are available in one space. You don’t have to commit to a six pack or even an entire pint. As most fests pour a few ounces at a time, you can try a handful of different beers very easily. Step outside your comfort zone and try a sour, a smoked porter, a big barleywine or that double IPA you’ve been curious about. Worse case? You have to pour out 3 ounces. Best case? You’ve found a new style that you thought you didn’t like.
Don’t be Afraid to Share
Admit it, craft beer is social. We’re in a great time to be beer drinkers. Keep your ears open while you drink and see what you overhear. Is someone talking about a brewery that you just sampled? We’ve never been ones to shy away from offering input. And presuming you’re attending beer with friends, don’t be afraid to share your samples. What can be better than sampling 15 beers in 4 hours? How about 30 beers in the same amount of time.
Not everyone that is working at a beer festival is an employee. Some are volunteers that want to get involved. That is what occurred for Measured Methods when we poured for Hermit Thrush and we were more than happy to lend our opinion when a drinker asked ‘What’s best?’ We were fortunate to be pouring five unique beers and styles and we’ll be the first to admit that not every beer fits everyone’s palate. “I’m not a hoppy beer fan” was heard more than once, as well as “I don’t like sours”. 99% of the time, the drinker took our suggestion and walked away quite happy. More than once, we say a drinker come back for more, too.
Avoid the Lines
We couldn’t believe how long and how quickly the lines became when the horn went off and a session started. Without a beer in hand, we watched dozens of people immediately flock to a handful of different breweries. Now, we’re not saying these breweries and beers aren’t worth drinking, but be sure to use your time wisely. When it was time to drink at our session, we made a point to visit the breweries with little to no line. You can walk up, get a beer in hand, and take a few minutes to talk to the staff. When you’ve waited in line for 20 minutes, not only do you most likely not have a beer by the end, but you are normally pressed for time at the bar and you don’t have the same opportunity to chat with the staff. Most of the highlights of the Vermont Brewers Festival for us were from the breweries that had nobody at them when we visited.
Craft beer, and a beer festival in general, is not a sprint, it’s a marathon. While your session may fly by, take the time to enjoy the scenery and the people there with you. Also, make sure your body is ready to make it from start to finish. Have some food in your stomach before you start drinking and be sure to drink water along the way. Most importantly, get home safe. Designate a driver. Take an Uber. Do what you have to do to make sure you can make it to the next fest.
Volunteer and get the True Experience
Having attending over twenty beer festivals between the two of us, this was the first year that either of us had volunteered. It was eye opening to be on the other side of the taps. We were able to answer questions, offer input, be a face and voice for an up and coming brewery that we adore and we got the benefits that came along with volunteering. We received a discounted ticket for another session (meaning we didn’t have to fight the on sale crowds that are the Vermont Brewers Festival now). We got to meet other brewers and brewery staff members during their impromptu meet and greets in between tents. Most importantly, the weekend become more of an experience.
We experienced so much more from both sides of the taps and our weekend at the 23rd annual Vermont Brewers Festival is one we surely won’t forget anytime soon.
About Measured Methods
Measured Methods is a service agency focusing on the craft beverage industry. With a diverse range of professional backgrounds, the team at Measured Methods works with craft brands of all sizes to provide digital marketing, event, and sales support.
Measured Methods are also organizers of the 2015 Vermont Beer Week celebration.
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