I recently reconnected with an old friend from a few years back when I moved back down to Thornton. I wasn’t as far down the beer hole back when I last saw him, so he had a lot of questions about my new career and passion. Eventually, I asked him, “what beers do you usually like, any craft beers?”. When he responded “I’ve had Shiner Bock, I liked that”, I understood just how little craft beer he had been exposed to, despite living less than a mile from award winning Echo Brewing Company. When a craft beer fest came up, and none of my other writers were unable to attend with me, I figured this was the perfect chance to share my world with him. Beer fests are great opportunities for those new to the world of beer. There are tons of different styles, pours are small, and if you don’t like it, there is probably a dump bucket around.
If you have some newbie craft beer friends, here is a guide to taking them to their first beer festival
1) Find a Fun Component: Matt is a foodie, so I knew I could convince him to attend this years Chef N Brew festival with me. Each brewery was paired with a restaurant that offered one or two dishes to pair with the beer. He was all over it. Even if he didn’t want to try the beer (we found out real quick that he was not a fan of hops), he still wanted to down the dish. There are tons of fests that have additional components, everything from food and music, to curling tournaments, are offered along beer samples.
2) Translate: When the brewer looks at your newbie friend and says “This is our new saison, fermented in traditional style in open vats and we also added coriander and lavender late in the boil before running it through a hop back then dryhopped it on sapphire hops before barrel aging it in white wine barrels” be ready to run interference to stop them from running for the door. While this is information beer geeks want and crave, the average person has no flipping idea what the hell you are talking about. A simple “this is a saison, a lighter belgian style beer traditionally made on farms, and can have spices or herbs added” will suffice. Really, all they want to know right now is if it tastes good to them or not.
3) Get the VIP treatment: If VIP tickets are available, get them. Going in an hour earlier than most attendees will give your newbie a chance to get a grasp of how fests work without the crazy crowds that can easily be overwhelming. Give them a run down of typical etiquette for beer fests so they know what to expect. Don’t forget to remind them that if they don’t like a beer they can dump it, and no one will be offended. By the time general admission doors open, they will be a pro. Plus, you can take solace in knowing you are not with a group of bros or hipsters who insist on standing RIGHT IN FRONT of the booth drinking and eating their samples (and getting seconds) so no one else can get to them, because you taught your newbie well.
4) Meet People: Introduce your newbie to your craft friends. Make a point to show how a beer fest can be a gathering of amazing people. Strike up conversations with brewers. Telling the brewer “It’s my friends first beer fest! What would you recommend?”, might help you avoid #2 and also help them get a real personal connection to why you are all there.
5) Follow Up: Take note of beers or breweries they enjoyed. Grab stickers or free beer coupons from the table. Make a plan to visit one of these breweries soon. While only a couple of the breweries beers were available at the event, many more will be available in the taproom. Seeing the taproom and having a beer they enjoyed there will surely send them down the wonderful rabbit hole of beer. Or at least we hope.
I apologize for the lack of photos, and descriptions of the food pairings in this post. after a solid 10 year record, I lost my phone for the first time :-(