Everything You Need To Know About How To Not Get Stupid Wasted At A Beer Festival.
Craft beer is here, and it's here to stay.
And, of course, with a smattering of craft beer comes craft beer festivals. Nothing wrong with that. Debating the merits of various types of hops and flavor notes with some fellow aficionados is a good time indeed.
Well, presuming you know what you're doing. Beer festivals aren't new around these parts by any means, but every time, unequivocally, some newcomer attends the thing, can't handle his shit and makes an ass of out of himself.
Passing out in your car for six hours is not a good look, trust me. Neither is puking like you're at a kegger. It's just not a pretty sight, y'all. Plus, it kills the good vibes!
This in mind, we figured it was high time someone passed along to the noobs some tips on how to drink as many craft beers as possible without getting pissy drunk. There's levels to this shit, folks.
Yeah, drinking is hella fun, but you've got to get your shit at least relatively together to do it right. So it's good to do some prep work so you can get the most out of your day at a beer festival. Keep the following things in mind.
Buy VIP if possible. Most festivals, such as this weekend's Untapped Festival, have VIP ticket options that come with a few perks. The most important of these is the fact that you get to enter the grounds an hour earlier than the general admission folks can. This allows you to hit up all of the brewery booths that have the really good stuff before they run out.
Have a strong tolerance. Drink a lot of beers over the span of many, many years. This hack is an investment. Sorry, this can't be done in a few days.
Do research. This is key! Most festivals, especially the local ones, will release not only their beer list in advance, but a map of the festival, too. This information is subject to change, but it will give you a good idea of how you might want to draw up your plan of attack.
Make a plan. Now that you know the who's who and who's bringing the hotness, type up a note on your phone — or even write it on an actual notebook — and make a list of your must-have beers. I personally go for the rarer beers or the stuff that will be more difficult to find on tap at other bars around town afterwards. If you're not that plugged into the beer scene, just look for the beers with “casks” and “bourbon barrel-aged” in their name.
Realize that you will never be able to drink all of the beers. Because it's true. You'll be happier upon this realization, I promise.
Set a limit. This one will be harder to potentially enforce, especially whenever you're in the thick of things or you discover your favorite new beer. But, really, try your best to limit how many samples you'll have. Hopefully, by now, you have a list of great beers you want to try. Anything else is just optional.
It's the big day! You've prepared properly. You're ready to do this. Right? Kinda! Your work is only beginning, really.
Eat big ol' breakfast and lunch. This is imperative. Prepare yourself by eating a big hearty breakfast or lunch. May I suggest a big burrito or some barbecue? Really, have whatever floats your boat. But eat. This will prevent the booze from getting you too tipsy too quickly. Remember: This is a marathon, not a race.
Bring cash. It's just easier, y'all. Some breweries might have badass shirts. Local favorite Peticolas usually has some rad scarves and other assorted merch, for instance. But this also helps when you're buying additional sampling cards, food or just whatever else you might want.
Public transportation is your friend. This should be common sense, but if you can, take public transportation, Uber, Lyft or whatever questionable taxi service you choose to get to and from the festival. Look up DART routes and plan accordingly, knowing that everyone else is going to be taking public transportation, too. It's not just cheaper than parking, but it's safer in general. This year's Untapped, for example, takes place at Fair Park, which has its very own DART stop.
Execute your plan! Now that you have a list of the beers that you really want to try, go get those first — well before the lines get too long or the brewery runs out. Once you complete your list of rare beers, then you can take things relatively easier.
Water, water, water, water. When oxygen molecules mix with twice as many hydrogen molecules, they create the most popular drink of all time. Water is your friend. It's your lifeblood. And it's something you should be sipping on constantly. Seriously. Most festivals will give away water bottles or sell them cheaply. So take advantage. Stay hydrated. Fight tomorrow's hangovers today. Also, if you want to be legit about it, drinking water in between samples helps cleanse your palate.
Take a break. With most beer festivals, you'll buy tasting cards, and the nice volunteers at each of the booths will mark your card off once you try a beer. A nice rule of thumb is, once you've finished your first card, wait anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour before deciding if you should buy another. For Untapped, specially, you can just go check out a band's set without a beer in your hand. It'll still be a fun time, promise. Plus, ideally at this point, you've already crossed some rare or highly anticipated beers off of your list and you can ease back anyway.
Food Trucks! Those mobile restaurants are there for a reason! Yes, they're sometimes overpriced — but, damn it, the food will fill you up and give you the energy to keep going. Also, most of the trucks are local. And supporting local is always a good look.
OK, so you're ready to leave. You've endured hours of standing around. You drank many — but not too many — beers. You took public transportation or a cab or an Uber to get here, so you've just gotta retrace those steps to get home now. Everything else at this point then is meant to help deter any potential hangovers.
Water, water, water, water (the sequel). Just drink it. Even better, drink some Gatorade. Electrolytes are cool. Keep drinking Gatorade or water until bed.
Order some greasy food! Find a nearby restaurant that will deliver to your home. Greasy foods are the electrolytes of solids.
Sleep. Resist the urge to go back out when you catch a glimpse of a second wind. Watch some Netflix instead. Then pass out.
Brunch out the next day. Bro, c'mon. It's brunch. Also, a little hair of the dog never hurt.
All photos by Scott Mitchell. The fourth annual Untapped Dallas festival goes down this Saturday, November 7, at Fair Park. Performing bands include Flaming Lips, Dr. Dog, Cloud Nothings, The Pharcyde and Elle King, among others. More than 100 breweries will be represented. Tickets start at $39. Head here for more information on the fest. Want to read more in our Like A Pro series? Head here for that.