Beer Lesson: How to Survive the Great American Beer Festival

September 29 2011, 7:19 AM

In 2010, we created a Great American Beer Fest survival guide for "Colorado's Best Craft Beers." We hope it prevented some hangovers (if not, stay tuned for tomorrow's guide to nursing one). This week, we asked you for some helpful advice. Here, some of our favorites, as well as our list.

 

@egorski: My best #GABF tip: take a sip and toss it if it isn't great.

@iXmiXer: Slow and steady. #GABF is a marathon not a sprint.

 

DO

Be selective Your liver isn’t up to the challenge of sampling the more than 2,200 varieties in the hall. A little pre-show research goes a long way. Create a plan of attack by focusing on a region, but at a certain point, just give up and sample something new and surprising.

Nosh on a pretzel necklace Tackling the GABF on an empty stomach is a rookie mistake. Yes, you’ll look ridiculous with salty twists around your neck, but at least you won’t be heaving into a garbage bin at the end of the session.

Let good beer go to waste The one-ounce pours seem measly at first, but after 20 or so, the hall may start to spin. Don’t be a hero: Smell, sip, and savor, then pour the rest into the waste buckets at every booth.

Show up late Most folks will tell you to line up early so you have first dibs at the hot brewers. We take a different approach: Show up about 40 minutes late to a session to avoid wasting time wading through the entrance lines, which often circle the block but are mostly gone after 30 minutes.

Call ahead GABF lists the exhibiting brewers, but not the beers so as not to impact voting—this is a competition, after all. Call your favorite brewery ahead of time to see if it’ll spill about what it’s tapping in the hall.

DON’T

Hold it The absolute worst wait at the GABF isn’t at a brewer’s booth or entrance; it’s the line for the loo. Skip the overcrowded stalls in the front of the hall and veer to the back of the hall, which had nary a wait last year.

Forget agua You might not want to waste valuable stomach space on lowly water when there’s so much beer to quaff, but the water stations—located at every column in the hall—are vital. Stop there often. Trust us.

Ask for more You’ve just discovered your new favorite beer. Your brain tells you to beg for another pour. Wrong! Go to the back of the line. You’ve had your fair share—for now.

Wait around You can get a six-pack of Deschutes, Dogfish Head, or Avery anytime at your local liquor store, so make sure to veer off the beaten malt path to search out new or itsy-bitsy breweries. This is their chance to stand next to the big boys; help these artisans out.