Beer Festival Etiquette 101: Do’s and Don’ts

Get yo’ friends together.

Now that the warm weather has arrived, you can expect to see a beer fest take place every other weekend. These days they are a dime a dozen; some are better than others, but in the long run certain etiquette rules apply to them all. Here is a cheat sheet of do’s and don’ts to follow when attending any beer festival. Stick to these and you’ll have a wonderful time.

Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. Drink plenty of water the night before, during and after the fest. There is a lot of beer and your body needs to stay hydrated, especially in warmer weather.

Do not feel a need to drink every beer. Dumping out beer you do not like or care for is perfectly acceptable behavior. There are normally dump buckets located throughout the grounds. You can also just ask for a half pour. That’s two tastings in one! If you like it, go back for more. If you don’t. move on.

Bring snacks: pretzel necklace, cheese, etc. It is always good to have a little food in your stomach when you are sampling 60+ different beers. Do not assume that the people pouring the beer are experts on that particular style.

Bring cash for food trucks, water, t-shirts, etc. Most fest vendors will take credit cards but you can expedite the process by paying cash, not to mention sometimes they knock of the sales tax which can save you a few bucks.

Bring toilet paper and hand sanitizer. Porta johns run out fast. This tip is mostly for the ladies but you can never be too safe.

Dress appropriately. This refers to checking the weather reports and packing appropriate things such as ponchos, sunscreen, a scarf, etc.

Have a plan to get home. Designated driver, uber, lyft, taxi, walking, etc. The last thing anyone wants is a DUI. There are often designated driver tickets available at a cheaper cost.

Pose for the photographers. You may just see yourself show up online later or if you’re lucky you wind up on the next year’s poster for the same event.

Don’t forget your identification or your tickets. No I.D., no admittance. No ticket, no admittance. Make sure to have both ready as you approach the gate for speedy entry.

Do not get overly talkative with brewers or reps as you’ll only hold up the line. If possible, see if they can step to the side and talk when it isn’t as busy. Quite a few people volunteer to help out and may not be affiliated with that brewery at all. Feel free to ask questions but do not get discouraged if they don’t have the information you seek.

Do not pack too much in a backpack or bag however because it will only get heavier as you continually add swag to it. Also, check the event page to see if bags are allowed. Depending on the fest, there may be some limitations on what you can bring in with you. This pertains to chairs as well.

Don’t just try all the beers or style you already know you like. You paid for access to all these beers, so give them a shot. You may surprise yourself. Skip the long lines or use a buddy system. If there is a particular beer you really want to taste and it isn’t being poured until a certain time, there is no need to stand there for an hour. Let the line die down and then grab some of that delicious nectar. If you absolutely want to wait, let a friend take your glass and fill it for you at other beer tents so that you are not standing there with an empty glass. Then switch, repeat. If you do decide to use the buddy system that does not mean one person can hold a spot in line for multiple people. Those in line behind you will not appreciate it and it could result in you and your friends being kicked out of that line.

Don’t be that obnoxious drunk guy at the party. You will only get yourself kicked out and ruin your friend’s day as well.

The key thing to remember about attending beer fests is to have fun. Another way to accomplish that is by volunteering. Many times, a fest needs volunteers to check people in or to pour beer and what better way to drink beer and hang out for free. Once you find out about an upcoming fest, follow it online and through social media and get your name on the list to be a volunteer. It is as simple as that.

As I’ve said, this is not an all-inclusive list but I hope that it helps you plan out your next beer festival.

Drink one for me my friends.


Shane Gibbs,

TN Craft Beer Educator