My first GABF was 11 years ago. I did what many people do: get trashed and not make it to even half the breweries. More than likely, I visited only a quarter of them. I lacked the wisdom and taste buds to be discerning. Don’t get me wrong, I had a shit ton of fun until I found myself releasing the demons of that fast and furious 4 hour session onto 14th Street and at a porcelain throne in a bar.
Long past are those days. Now, I have a game plan when I go in. So for all you newbies, I’m sharing this in case your only plan is to try some beers.
1. Choose ahead. Whether it’s a style of beer, a region, specific breweries, or medal winners, be specific in what you’re going to drink. It’s a HUGE amount of beers and even to someone like me, it’s still overwhelming and extremely tempting to jump off course.
2. Use your will power. Stick to your choice because once you jump off the wagon, it’s hard to get back on.
3. Don’t feel obligated to drink everything you try. For many years, even with sticking to my chosen beer path, I’d get tanked because I drank every bit that was poured, whether it was bleah or awesome. If it doesn’t impress me, I dump it because I have long list to get to and I’d rather save my wits and taste buds for awesomeness. Sometimes, I even spit.
4. Go with friends that understand or alone. There’s nothing worse than having to wait for a friend in a long line at a brewery that you’re not tasting at. This can contribute to getting off your beer course. Going with peeps that are okay with not seeing you for the next 4 hours because your beer interests vary is important. Or find beer buddies that have the same plan as you. Personally, I’m a fan of going alone. Let’s be serious, beer people are friendly and if you go alone, you’re not really alone. You’re with the best extended family in the world.
5. Bring beer snacks. Nuts, pretzels, potato chips…whatever your preferred drinking snack is, bring it. This will help with not getting tanked. It also helps in not wasting time standing in line to get a snack. As dorky as they are, I appreciate the wisdom of pretzel necklaces. It also doubles as a good way to make friends or to hit on beer girls. You’ve had a lot of beers and you’re peckish? Would you like a pretzel?
6. Get tickets for more than one session. If you have the funds and time, it’s totally worth it. There’s a lot to do besides tasting beer.
7. Map your game plan in advance. The floor map, events, and breweries are on GABF’s website already. The beer list comes out on Wednesday, Oct 1st. Which means you can have your tasting experience mapped out and ready to go before you step into the gates of heaven. Of course being flexible in the plan is important: beers get tapped out, there’s longer lines than expected, you get distracted by the really cute guy/girl you offered a pretzel to, people keep asking to take photos with you because your outfit is cool… distractions happen. If you know where you want to go and where that booth is, you don’t have to waste time trying to find it.
This year, I won’t be attending GABF. Yes, I am super sad but sometimes there are more important things in life (hard to believe, I know). BUT I will be attending some of the fun extracurricular activities, like the Great Avery Boulder Fest at the Fox Theatre in Boulder.
Have a great 2014 GABF and I’ll be back for 2015!!
P.S. Cut a rug for me at the Silent Disco!!