Beer festival season is in full swing in Charlotte right now. And while some are seasoned pros when it comes to these boozy events, there are plenty of folks who are either new to Charlotte or easing into the craft beer scene and have no idea how beer festivals work.
Fear not, friends — we’re here to help you make the most of your beer festival experience. Here’s what we recommend to ensure that your brew-filled day of fun goes off without a hitch.
What to do (and what not to do)
1. Do: Hydrate
Guzzling copious amounts of water before, during and after the festival is the absolute best decision you can make. You’re going to be drinking a lot of alcohol, so chug water as much as you can to avoid getting dehydrated and excessively drunk.
2. Do: Eat
You do not want to spend the whole day drinking on an empty stomach. Eat a big breakfast, and bring cash so you can plan to grab a bite to eat from a food truck or other on-site vendor about halfway through the festival.
3. Don’t: Pre-game
Yeah, I thought this one was pretty obvious, too — and then my fiancé pounded three beers before meeting me at Moo & Brew, and he got cut off from sampling beer about an hour into the festival. You don’t want to be that guy.
You paid for the beer samples at the festival! Skip the pre-game so you can get your money’s worth.
4. Don’t: Drive
Obviously, no drunk driving. A lot of festivals offer a discounted ticket for designated drivers, so you could go that route, but parking can be a nightmare at some of these events (and driving out through a sea of drunk people is rough).
Instead, you could take an Uber or Lyft. Or the Light Rail. Or walk there on your own two feet. SO MANY OPTIONS. Just don’t drive.
5. Do: Get your sample, then MOVE
For the love of all that is holy, once you’ve gotten your beer, get out of the way! People who stick around in the booth after they’ve been handed their sample clog up the tent, blocking people who still need to get their fill. Get in, get beer, get out.
6. Do: Ask for a small pour if you’re not sure you’ll like it
Beer festivals are a great opportunity to try new brews you might not feel comfortable ordering (and paying for) when you’re at a brewery or bottle shop. But if you’re not sure whether you’ll like a certain beer, ask them to give you a small pour. That way, you don’t end up with a full taster glass of something you don’t like. Which brings us to…
7. Do: If you don’t like it, dump it
There will be buckets at each booth where you can pour out excess beer before getting your next pour. Which means there are ample places you can dump out your taster glass if you’re not feeling the brew you’re sipping. Don’t force yourself to finish something you don’t enjoy, or you’ll just end up dissatisfied (and drunker than necessary).
What to bring
8. Your ID
I’ve been to at least three beer festivals where someone in our group wasn’t allowed in until they went back home and got their ID. Why did they think they could enter the festival with a ticket alone? The person at the door still had to make sure they were over 21 before giving them their wrist band to drink throughout the festival. Boggles my mind. Anyway, don’t forget yours.
There are likely to be vendors on-site at the festival selling snacks, clothing and more. Most of the time they also accept payment by card, but it just makes good sense to be prepared in case they’re cash-only.
10. Hand sanitizer
Listen: you’re going to have to pee in a port-a-potty at some point during your festival experience. That’s just how it’s going to go. And you’re going to want to thoroughly sanitize your hands after you use it. That’s all I’m saying.
11. A hands-free bag (ideally a large one, so you can put all your free stuff in it)
Personally, I go for a cross-body purse, but I suppose you could also wear a fanny pack if you really wanted to. Either way, just know that you’re going to have a glass in one hand basically all day, so you probably won’t want to be lugging around a big purse in the other.
Additionally, you’re going to be offered all kinds of free samples from people with booths at the event, handing out things like sunglasses, bottle openers, koozies and more. Unless you want to try to stuff these things in your pockets, you’re going to want a bag large enough to fit them in!
What to wear
If you’re going to an outdoor festival, you NEED to remember to put sunscreen on both your body and your face. I’ve seen too many sad sunglass tanlines to let you guys skip the SPF.
Admittedly, you could skip this if you don’t have a specific pair that you prefer, since they’ll likely be handing out cheap pairs of sunglasses at pretty much every other table at the festival. But you definitely want something to shield your precious eyes from the sunshine, since you’ll be outside sampling for a few hours.
14. Close-toed, flat shoes
Many of these festivals take place in either a gravel lot or in a grassy park. In either case, heels can cause issues (we don’t want you breaking an ankle), and you’re likely to end up with very dirty feet if you opt for sandals. You don’t necessarily have to wear sneakers, but something flat with a closed toe will be your best bet.
15. Comfortable clothing
Since you’re going to be on your feet for several hours, your focus should be less on fashion and more on function.
You don’t want to wear anything that’s going to be tough to get into or out of in a port-a-potty (i.e. we definitely don’t suggest rompers), or any pants you’re going to have to hike up repeatedly throughout the day, or a dress that’s going to show off your underoos if a big breeze rolls through.
If we had to make a recommendation, it would be to pair your most comfortable shorts or jeans with a top that shows off your love of beer. We like this “I [Beer] CLT” shirt from Work For Your Beer and this “Here For The Beer And The View” shirt from Glory Days Apparel.
You’re now officially festival ready. Go forth and drink beer, y’all!