This past weekend I attended the American Craft Beer Fest (ACBF or #acbf) in Boston, Massachusetts. With over 120 breweries pouring over 550 different types of beer this is one of the largest beer festivals on the east coast and the biggest beer tasting I've attended. Here are some tips to help you better enjoy and discover beer at the next beer festival you attend:
Do your research
Before leaving for Boston I looked at the list of breweries attending and made a shortlist of 25 breweries and in some cases, specific beers, I was interested in trying. Taking on the challenge to sample 550 beers may seem fun but it's best to narrow it down to what you really want to drink so you can enjoy the beer and explore different breweries and styles that aren't available in your region.
Not only did I remember to bring my shortlist of breweries with me but I had an extra pen, ibuprofen tablets, a bottle of water, a few snacks and cab fare back to the hotel. While I bought snacks I could hide in my side bag many were stringing pretzels and bagels to wear around their necks. Whichever method of snack-portation you choose it's important to eat bread-y foods not only to help soak up the alcohol but to act as a palate cleanser between stronger tasting brews.
Use the program
One of the best tools to keep track of the beers I enjoyed or didn't enjoy was the festival program. It had an event map, a list of the breweries with their particulars (website, twitter handle, address) and a list of the beers they were pouring. There was also space provided to rank beers and jot down short notes to remind yourself which beer to try again in the pub or (for me) which beer to stock up on at The Craft Beer Cellar before crossing the border.
Use the rinsing/dumping station
Most beer and wine festivals use dumping and rinsing stations. While I didn't rinse my glass between every beer I did visit the station after a particular strong tasting beer like Lawson's Finest Liquids Maple Triple. I even dumped a few beers I wasn't enjoying - sorry Cinder Bock, smoked beers are just not my thing.
Know when you've had enough
Know your limits and know when your body is telling you to stop drinking. I attended ACBF solo so I had to be very conscious of how my body was reacting to the amount of beer I was giving it. I lasted most of the festival before I felt the alcohol hit me and decided it was best to have my last beer and explore the harbour front for fried seafood.
Which beer festivals have you attended? Do you have any tips?