We go to a lot of beer festivals, possibly more than is healthy. It’s pretty hard to go more than a month or two without a festival popping up somewhere. A well-run festival is a lot of fun. It seems that when we compare notes at the end of a festival, however, certain things seem to happen over and over. Every blog seems to be required to do a list of ten things, and we considered doing “The Top Ten Beer Lists That Really Bore Us” but we thought that might be a little meta. So, instead we talked about it and polled our contributors to come up with this list of things we’d rather not see at beer festivals.
Do you have others? Leave a comment!
#10. People showing up drunk.
Why on earth would you come to a beer festival already drunk? There’s a good chance it’ll happen while you’re there, which is why good designated driver programs and close-by hotels are hallmarks of a well-run festival (e.g see Cincy Winter Beerfest). It doesn’t seem to matter, though. We’ve seen bachelor parties. We’ve see bachelorette parties. We’ve seen people projectile vomiting while waiting in line to get in. (They didn’t, by the way.) We’ve become weary of the the line “you’re doing it wrong,” but in this one case it seems very appropriate.
#9. People stopping randomly and without warning, then being astonished when someone runs into them.
This one comes under the heading of “News flash! There are other people on the planet besides you!” Because people (reasonably) attend beer festivals in groups, it’s not unusual to see herds of people migrating around a festival location. Traffic patterns emerge. Paths get beaten. Or they do, anyway, until Captain Clueless and his Merry Band of Slugs decides that this choke-point between two popular booths is JUST the place to stop and check their phone. Maybe to take a picture of all the people who were walking behind them and are now getting crushed because you came to a full stop in the middle of the traffic lane. Here’s a hint: if you’re walking, there’s a good chance there’s someone behind you doing the same thing and won’t stop when you do. Move out of the flow of traffic before you stop to have a chat.
#8. Booths that have nothing to do with beer or the festival.
Just because someone is willing to write a check to participate in your festival, it doesn’t always mean it’s a good idea to have them there. They won’t get much traffic and people will just stare at them the longer the night goes on.
#7. Brewers and Brewery Reps who won’t interact (or just disappear).
We’ve made a lot of great contacts with brewery folks over the years at festivals. It’s safe to say that most brewers and brewery reps take the promotional part of being at a beer festival seriously. What can be pretty annoying, though, is wanting to talk to someone from the brewery but you can’t get their attention because they’ve huddled together at the back of the booth and are talking among themselves. Granted, you can’t be “on stage” all the time (and brewing appeals to introverts), but that human touch is supposed to be what distinguishes craft beer from MegaBrewingCo. Make an effort.
#6. Lack of water for rinsing glasses and hydration.
Water is the second most important liquid at a beer festival. People need to drink it, and people need to rinse their glasses between samples. It’s not uncommon for there to be empty pitchers sitting out, but sometimes they get pressed into service as dump bucket instead of holding water. We’ve also seen situations where there was supposed to be water, but there weren’t any arrangements made to get the water refilled. We rejoice when we see iced bottles or cans of water readily available.
#5. People who know (or were told) nothing about the beer they are serving.
This is a tough one because a lot of festivals are staffed by volunteers who are either working for free beer at breaks or tips for an organization. They may not know much about beer (or the ones they’re assigned to pour). On the other hand, somewhere on the list of reasons people say they hold beer festivals is to help educate people about beer. There’s not much education going on if the person pouring the beer is surprised it gets foamy on top. You also have festivals required by venue rules to use some particular set of “professional” bartenders. Some try to pick up a bit, most don’t. If you can’t be there yourself, help out the people who’ll be pouring the beers by providing some kind of cheat sheet.
#4. No listing of available beers.
Some beer festival advertising would be more accurate if it simply said “We know what beers are going to be there but we won’t tell you.” There may (or may not) be a list of participating breweries. That list may (or may not) include what beers will be poured. There may (or may not) be a sign at each booth, but that sign will be written in ballpoint pen by a child and hung on the edge of the table that has a line in front of it slightly smaller than the population of Albania. You finally make it to the front of the line to find that the chalkboard tap handle has nothing on it but a pale smear of green eraser marks. You ask the sole person pouring beer what the tap is and they respond, “yellow.”
#3. (tie) “Strollers” and “Unattended toddlers running around screaming”
There are family restaurants. There are family fun centers. Family arcades, church services, petting zoos and ice cream stands.
There are no family beer festivals.
(Before you get the torches and pitchforks out, there are events held outdoors that have a music or food component at least as important as the beer part. That’s not the kind of event we’re talking about. We’re talking about events that are about the beer first and foremost.)
It sucks that it’s hard to find affordable childcare whenever you need it, but it’s not the problem of everyone else attending either. Bring your underaged kid to a beer festival and you will be judged harshly by pretty much everyone else there. You’d think it wouldn’t even be a question, but at least two festivals we’re aware of have found it necessary to explicitly ban strollers.
At. A. Beer. Festival.
We’ve seen infants in Snuglis or Baby Bjorns before and, other than the confusion and noise, we’ve never given that much thought. The kids are usually asleep. They’re being carried. There’s the risk of the child being hit by projectile vomiting from an attendee, but they’re in a better position than most to retaliate in kind. It wouldn’t be the choice we’d make, but it’s not for us to say.
Oh, and to make sure it’s clear this is really about the parents and not the kids, we don’t think mobility scooters have any place at a beer festivals either. Besides the issue with crowding at indoor events, it’s ultimately an act of drinking and driving. It hurts to get hit by one of those things.
#2. Clustering at a booth.
It’s not a bar, people. Give them your ticket (if necessary), thank the person who poured the beer and go away. Don’t down it like the first shot after working third-shift at the local mill and hand the taster back for a refill. That’s just not the way it works.
#1 “Irritating Dude-bros Tossing Back White Rajah With A Soul-Crushing Bitter-Beer-Face-Grimace While Macking On Poor Unsuspecting Ladies.”
That’s verbatim from Jason (Pud’n). No further explanation needed.
Did we miss one? Disagree with any of these? Leave your comments!