Beer Fests and Beer Tastings and Beer Pairings!
Oh My! ( Part 1 of 3)*
A breakdown of what goes on in the world of beer events.
With American Craft Beer Week less than a month away and an undeniable laundry list of events a plenty to be packed into seven days, I figured I would offer you a snippet of what some of these events will look like. Typically ACBW events are localized with tap takeovers, pairings and tastings but before we get into those, let’s start with the grandest of them of all; Beer Festivals.
Let’s begin with a little bit of background…
I don’t know when the first beer festival was exactly, but I do know that Oktoberfest is still the world’s largest. The Bavarian beer fest has globally popularized the idea of getting thousands of people together to drink beer under the same roof at the same damn time (enter Future, stage left, to perform “Same Damn Time” ). While a “crunk fest” may not have been the initial intention of Oktoberfest, it certainly has inspired many events to go in that direction.
With that said, within the world of beer festivals, there are several kinds. You have your trade show style like the Great American Beer Festival and the Craft Brewers Conference where the industry professionals gather to hob knob, learn about all things craft beer and rank the best brews in the nation. Then you have your regional craft beer festivals that are still well regarded because they are sticking to the art of beer—we have a couple here in Florida that will remain nameless to save ourselves from standing in line behind more people saying, “bro, what’s the strongest beer you have, I don’t care what it is.” The craft fests are where you will mostly find enthusiasts sprinkled with some newbs looking to explore the scene. And then you have your shit shows like some of the smaller events that focus on pouring as much beer as possible and not really caring about what breweries are represented at said events (again not pointing any fingers because it is all for the love of the “craft,” right?). Whatever the case and whichever style you attend, one thing is certain, be sure to hydrate and eat (mental note, must take my own advice at Hunahpu’s Day next year).
Now that we have a bit of background, let’s get local and dive into some of the types of festivals we see here in South Florida. Oh, and before I start and anyone gets their panties in a bunch, I will neither be endorsing nor bashing any of these festivals, so relajate mi socios.
New Times Beer Fest, Brew on the Bay, Sprung!, Brew at the Zoo, Miami Beer Festival, Miami Beach Beer Fest… anyone else’s head spinning yet? Mine is! Yes, I just listed a taste of the beer festivals we have seen slam the scene here in South Florida in just the first four months of 2013.
What does one do when posed with all of these events? Well that depends on what you are looking for. Personally, I don’t typically attend beer festivals unless I am pouring the beer. I prefer to talk about the beer and try to help someone find a style they will enjoy in hopes that the next time they pick up a six-pack, they look for something that really pleases their palate and supports a craft brewery. But if you plan to attend to have a good time while sampling some great beer and not be a complete douche bag, then a beer festival is a great option for you.
I actually have a great amount of respect for those folks who attend craft beer festivals for the first time in hopes of exploring new things. You, my friends, are my favorite! The other folks who just want to get shmammered should really stay away and stick to places where the big boys are pouring beer. If you don’t like a particular beer you taste and you can’t be polite after sipping on a unique, hand-crafted brew that someone took their time and energy to create, don’t waste our time or resources and go drink a Corona.
Now, what to expect? If you are attending an outdoor beer fest you can bet that your skin will be sun-kissed and dehydration can set in, unless you prepare. Water, LOTS of water, food…and sunscreen. Outdoor fests tend to be the most fun, in my opinion, because they truly embrace the festival experience and usually have live music and food trucks. It’s kind of like the Youth Fair only with beer and no rides. There are tents and contests but unfortunately there can be some very long lines. That being said, I suggest getting there very early or waiting it out and fumble your way through the folks that have had too much to drink at the very end of the day. These are the times with the least amount of folks waiting for a brew.
Indoors isn’t all that bad either, especially in South Florida in the high heat of summer. Again, same advice sans sunscreen; hydration and food are the key.
All in all, a beer festival can be a ton of fun, just know what you are getting into ahead of time and set your expectations appropriately. Check out the website of the festival and look up the beers being poured, maybe even do a bit of research on the breweries that will be there. And if nothing else, be sure to be safe and have fun and for the love of all things, try something new!
COMING SOON: Pairings, Tastings, Tap Take-Overs and Bottle Shares – A breakdown of what you can expect.
*Special shout out in this article goes to Wikipedia for its infinite and factual knowledge.
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