What the Ale! How to Pick a Beerfest That Isn’t a Complete Dumpster Fire

Drinking buddies. Photo by Cynthia Rebolledo

You may get a notification on Facebook or Instagram with a buddy tagging your name on some sponsored beer festival’s post. It would say something like, “Bro/Chica we should go!” But slow your roll. I’ve been to hundreds of beer festivals, and it lately seems as if everyone is trying to cash in on the craft movement.

Sadly, not only do these people not know anything about beer, but it also seems as though they know nothing about producing a quality event. Here are my top five things to look for to avoid a total shitshow:

1. Are tickets on a daily deal website? Chances are the event will be oversold. This usually means a long line to get in, revolving lines for average beer, huge lines to pee, lines for food—and no water. Such sites might be great for dog grooming or spa sessions, but they’re never good for a beer festival.

2. Does the festival website list only breweries that are available inside Angel Stadium? Unfortunately, most of those brands are not actual craft breweries, and the beer you’ll be served is likely available year-round at your local 7-Eleven. Look for Saint Archer, Elysian, Blue Point, Goose Island, Golden Road or 10 Barrel: If you see them, save your money, dress up in lederhosen/dirndl and take your party to a convenience store.

3. Is the festival in a parking lot? Mmmm, there’s nothing more awesome than navigating a maze of collapsible canopies on hot summertime blacktop. Look for a festival that has trees, grass, sand, or some other comfortable space to enjoy the day.

4. Does the event support a nonprofit? Craft brewers are great about donating their beer to support the community, so if you see local independent breweries supporting an event, it’s because they believe in the festival producers. If you don’t, skip it.

5. Does the festival use terms such as suds, ice-cold beer or microbrews? These are antiquated terms by today’s standards, and you should probably stay clear.

Greg Nagel has been writing about beer since 2011, is an avid homebrewer of wine, cider, and beer, is a certified Cicerone Beer Server, a podcaster with the Four Brewers Show, and runs a yearly beer festival called Firkfest. When not writing about, photographing or filming beer, cocktails, and food, he can be found talking trash while playing Battlefield V under the name “OCBeer.”

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