Tonight, the Michigan Brewer’s Guild Summer Beer Festival kicks off in Riverside Park in Ypsilanti, MI. The 2019 festival will feature 1,100 beers from 150 different breweries. No, there really isn’t a way to taste every single one of those beers within the span of 4-6 hours!
I don’t remember what year I attended my first summer beer festival, but I think it may have been 2007. I’ve probably been to at least 8-10 beer festivals since then, most of them in the summer (I went to the World Expo of Beer in Frankenmuth, which is held in the Spring, I’ve attended one winter beer festival and I’ve also attended the Fall Beer Festival in Detroit). All other beer festivals I’ve been to were in the summer.
So you have your tickets…what’s next? Prepare, prepare, prepare! Most importantly – what are you going to wear?
How To Survive and Enjoy a Summer Beer Festival
- First off, f— fashion and vanity. Beer festival day is all about comfort and function. Note, if you buy and wear one of those pretzel necklaces, you WILL advertise to others that you’re an “amateur” and not a “professional.” However, if you plan to eat the pretzels as snacks later, thumbs up to that!
- Wear shoes that firmly attach to your feet (no flip-flops or slide sandals). Sandals should strap onto your feet. This is important – you will be walking around on uneven ground and nothing will ruin your beer fest day faster than face planting because your flip-flop flopped when it should’ve flipped (or vice versa). You’re probably going to be buzzed if not completely sh— faced/ inebriated – at least if you’re getting your money’s worth out of this thing. Don’t let your footwear be an extra handicap. Booze will handicap ya enough!
- Just because I say “f— fashion,” it DOESN’T mean you shouldn’t dress with some flair! Beer festivals are all about being seen (especially important if someone is trying to find you)! I always ask my husband to wear his loudest tie-dye or Hawaiian style shirts so I can easily find him if we become separated. Beer- themed shirts are always popular, too.
Note the oversized pocket on Dave’s shirt – perfect for holding his program for the beer festival! Pockets are essential! Though I have made the comment that cargo shorts aren’t the most fashionable things you can wear – they DO serve a purpose at a beer festival! So do fanny packs. Speaking of f— fashion, right? Those green nylon cargo shorts of mine are such an essential part of my beer festival “wardrobe!” They dry quickly if you spill beer on them, stains come out easily, and pockets, pockets, pockets!
- If you don’t have a place to put your sample cup while you’re using the bathroom, just hold it in your teeth. You WILL look like a “professional” and not an “amateur!” Just don’t put anything in that cup while you’re in the bathroom!
- Don’t get too bummed if a brewery runs out of a beer you were really wanting to try. There will be plenty of other beers for you to try instead.
- Make your bathroom stops as brief as possible. The port-a-potty bathrooms will feel like they’re 20 degrees warmer than everything else.
- Take a breather every now and then. Enjoy a good sit – as far away from the crowds as possible.
Note the little black pouch I’m wearing around my neck – that was perfect for holding my beer tokens! Also I am “babysitting” someone’s beer cup – NOT double fisting!
- Hats/bandannas/visors. All of these are good for keeping sun out of your eyes, sun off your face and sweat out of your eyes.
- Snacks…bring ’em! Granola bars, small packets of cheese crackers, Babybel cheese snacks and pretzels are great for holding you over until you can get a real meal afterwards. Most beer festivals will have food for sale on site, too.
- Stay hydrated. Most beer festivals are required to provide potable water to visitors. You can usually bring in your own coolers and non-alcoholic beverages (rules vary from festival to festival). One year Vitamin Water representatives were at a festival I attended – and I briefly became addicted to it! Really hit the spot on a hot beer-infused day!
- Cover your bad self – or use sunblock. You’re going to fry in that sun and probably be so drunk that you won’t notice until the next day. Remember the sunniest part of your day might involve standing in line to get in.
- Evening beer festivals rather than day beer festivals will usually have shorter lines. Plus less of that pesky sun.
- Explore! Just because you haven’t heard of a brewery doesn’t mean they won’t have a beer you like. The newer breweries will likely have shorter lines, too.
- If you MUST bring in a handbag or a purse, use a crossbody or backpack-style model that will stay kind of “attached” to your body and allow maximum freedom of movement. Don’t use a purse or handbag unless it’s absolutely necessary. Remember what I said about “f— fashion” and for f—‘s sake it’s OK to use a fanny pack at a beer festival! Besides, aren’t they kind of in fashion now?
- Ladies, bring EVERYTHING you’re going to need (you KNOW what I’m talking about and I know it’s not going to be nice to have to do what you have to do in that 120 degree port-a-potty but it is what it is and remember you’re a “professional”). Stuff it into your pockets, your fanny pack, whatever you’re using to stow your stuff.
- Follow the rules. You don’t want to get kicked out! And stay vertical (you’re not an “amateur” after all)!
- Have a nice shower at the end of your day. The only time a shower will feel more amazing is after a camping trip. You won’t be able to wash away all of your mental “filth,” but washing away the sunblock, bug spray, spilled beer will be oh so satisfying…