Everyone loves Beerfest. True story. But just imagine if you could enjoy one of the best weekends of the year even MORE!?! Well these 8 festival hacks will have your BFFs (Beerfest Friends Forever…) looking to YOU as their leader because you’ll know all the tricks to get the most out of your Calgary International Beerfest experience this weekend (May 6 – 7th).
Follow these 8 simple steps to Beerfest Bliss:
1. Know what makes the event special – Every beer festival has something special about it. Going to the Great British Beer Festival in London on the first day? Keep an eye out for the Cornish ‘band’ from Skinner’s Brewing who make quite the entrance: dressed in kilts, drumming on pails, and singing Cornish folk songs! Or the All Ale to the Queen festival in Charlotte, North Carolina has aerial acrobats, jugglers, and other circus acts as well as beer. The Calgary International Beerfest has a whole whack of things to check out. Above and beyond the 200+ breweries, distilleries, meaderies, cideries and eateries, you can learn to cook with and pair beer with food in the Alberta Pork Cooking with Beer Seminars, hear the stories behind the brands in the RAHR Malting Brew Master Seminars, hit up one of the three music stages – Sled Island & CJSW stage, the Village Brewing stage or the Cold Garden Lounge, and so much more!
2. Know Where to ‘Go’ – There’s an old story about a journalist in Moscow during the cold war who spent a week just standing at the doors of random buildings – people there were so used to lining up for things – every time he did this, people would line up behind him thinking he knew something they didn’t. No need to line up at Beerfest – there are washrooms everywhere so don’t just join a line – look around. (Hack hint! VIPs get their own exclusive – lounge with VIP washrooms).
3. Come with an open mind – Because the equipment used to make beer and spirits in craft breweries and distilleries is pretty much the same, brewers have to go out of their way to stand out in the ever expanding craft beer market. Sometimes, they’ll try something truly out there, with ingredients like beard yeast, goat brain yeast, and even dinosaur bone yeast to create a beer – but for the most part, their explorations utilize more common food sources. Regardless, keep an open mind, try new beers and spirits, and respect those beers and spirits even if they aren’t quite your style. Every year people come either thinking they already know what beers/spirits they like or that they don’t like beer/spirits at all (that second group is what we like to call ‘wrong’) – but those that come with an open mind often find a new favorite!
4. Expect to make friends -There is something special about the atmosphere and sense of community at a beer festival – and that has a lot to do with the type of people who attend. Most beer festivalians are good, relaxed people who are there to have a fun time. Chat someone up while you are in line because it can turn a wait into yet one more fun aspect of the event.
5. Pair your beer and spirit samples with food samples – Every good beer festival will have a variety of different foods you can sample from – and we are proud to say that this year we have 30+ amazing restaurants/pubs/eateries to enjoy! Take the time to seek out foods that will complement the different beers and spirits you are trying. The right food with the right beer or spirit will enhance the tastes of both. Another good idea is to ingest your beers/spirits and food with equal parts water so you can enjoy the festival longer. All beer/spirits and food can be sampled by first purchasing sample tokens. Sample tokens are $1 and sold in sheets of ten. Each sample is a minimum of 2 tokens and a sample of beer is legally 4oz while spirits is ½ an oz.
6. Come with a plan – What do you want to get out of the event? Do you want to find a new favorite beer, sample from a style you already enjoy, try only things new, or explore the craft distillery district? One general beer strategy is to go from light beer to dark beer – though that isn’t always possible at a festival where you are traveling from booth to booth. Still, you can help your tastings by putting a little effort into your choices.
7. Take your time to taste the beer/spirits – A beer festival isn’t supposed to be a race; consider it a beer/spirit journey (Hack Hint – Get there early! Get first crack at special casks, no line ups, and more!). Really taste the beers/spirits you are sampling – and if you enjoy them, take a picture with your phone or text the name to a buddy so you can remember to pick some up after the event and support the brewery/distillery that has helped make the festival possible.
8. Plan your ride home – Of course, the most important thing you can do in your beer festival planning is make sure you get home safe. Most festivals have websites that can direct you to transit, cab companies, etc. Make a plan to get home before you even step foot out of your house. The Calgary International Beerfest is held on Stampede Park, which means easy access to the C-Train. We have also paired up with driving services and taxi companies to have them on site so there are no excuses when it comes to getting home responsible.
For more information, event map, seminar schedules, and more, please visit: albertabeerfestivals.com/festivals/calgary-international-beerfest
And if you still don’t have tickets, get them here before they sell out: albertabeerfestivals.com/tickets
President – ABF
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