Surviving a Summer Brewfest

By Julie Swearingen
Posted in The Field Guide to Drinking in America, on August 09, 2016

Whether you are a beer aficionado, a newbie to the craft brew phenomena, or somewhere in between, summer brewfests are upon us across the country. In our own backyard, Oregon boasts a plethora of brewfest options. Ready to attend your first or tenth brewfest? Not so fast. Here are some suggestions, tips, and reminders on how to survive a brewfest.


First, check out the venue or the festival’s website. Not only will they have the breweries, libations, and food options listed so you can plan your route--or fly by the seat of your pants--they will also answer some FAQs that often come up, like parking, fees, and hours. This is also a good way to find out what your hydration options are going to be. Bringing along your own water is a great idea, but some venues would rather you bring an empty bottle and fill it on site while others only have bottled water available.


Second, bring cash. Most venue’s provide several ATMs, but we all know those fees are not cool, and cash is needed to buy tokens or mugs to participate in the fest. Bringing a set amount of cash can also help you stay within your drinking limit and your beer budget.


Third, check to see if kids and pets are welcome before bringing them along. For instance, this year’s Bend Brewfest does not allow pets as it has in past years. This can also be a rule set forward by the town’s Parks and Rec division as well as the organizers or individual venue. Dogs are great, but give Fido a night off and enjoy your brews with your bipedal friends. When bringing kiddos to the event, awareness of the venue’s rules is a must. Some brewfests allow kids until a certain time—7pm at Bend Brewfest for example—while others allow them at all times. You may also be required to sign paperwork. At the Oregon Brewers Festival, parents may bring a child; guardians cannot. Portland Craft Beer Festival does not allow minors on Friday or Saturday night, but they are welcome all day Sunday for Family Day where family-centered activities abound.


And lastly, know your game plan for the night. This isn’t a blog about how much to drink--that’s up to you--but keeping within your limits ensures everyone has a good time at the brewfest. And isn’t that the goal of all brewfests?! If you are traveling to another state for a brewfest, take along The Field Guide to Drinking in America. Learn the state liquor laws of your destination and never be caught without a good brew. Happy brewfesting, friends!