A girl’s guide to a beer festival (ok fine, it’s for guys too)

So, I’ve been to a few beer festivals over the years and I’ve always really enjoyed them. This past weekend I attended Charlotte Oktoberfest, and it was so much fun! Every time I go to a festival, though, I see people walking in the door with their pretzel necklaces on, and I think, “Oh yeah, I should have done that.” Luckily Teresa was awesome and made me one, because she’s thoughtful like that. But I thought I’d write down some things I noticed that we did (or didn’t do) that makes the experience even better.

1. Don’t show up hung over. I’m totally including this as a tip to poke fun of my friends who did show up hung over. For the record, they were fine after a couple of rounds. But they weren’t happy at the beginning.

2. Speaking of showing up, do show up early if it’s an option. Our group paid extra money to get a “premium” ticket, which meant we got in an hour early. It also meant we were among about 500 people instead of about 7,000. Can you say shorter lines?

We were already needing a break from beer by the time others were showing up. Then again, whether that's a good thing is probably debatable ...

 

3. Bring a big purse that zips (as opposed to a bag that is open and stuff can spill out of it). In addition to ID and money, add sunscreen (if an outdoor event) and keep the rest of it empty – you’ll need it to put all your cool stuff you acquire in, and if you can keep it to one bag to keep up with, the chances of not losing stuff is better.

My festival-appropriate purse ...

 

4. Wear clothes that you won’t care if you spill beer on. Because you will spill beer on it. And if you don’t, someone else will.

We didn't know him, but his shirt was a conversation-starter. Photo by Meghan.

5. Ask for stickers. Many of the breweries have them, and sometimes they don’t display them but they’ll give them to you if you ask.

No rules on where you put the stickers ...

6. If you see something else that you want, it doesn’t hurt to ask. Case in point: Meghan and I wanted some t-shirts from a brewer that had them on display. We asked them if we could have them. He said, “You have to pay for them.” We said, “But we don’t want to pay for them.” And then we explained to him that if we wear his shirts, we are really giving him free advertising, therefore he should give them to us. He responded by asking us what size and then slipping them quietly to us (before anyone else noticed.) This probably helped that we asked later in the day, when the beer pourer had been drinking probably as much or more than we had … but it doesn’t hurt! The only reason I’m not advertising his shirt right now is because I don’t want to bombard the guy with requests for free shirts. But I have worn it already and will continue to!

7. Bring a koozie. I didn’t think to do this, and they gave us commemmorative glasses – made of glass – that we also to drink the beer from. I am so surprised I didn’t break that thing at some point during the day. I did see people with koozies around theirs, which I thought was smart.

Believe it or not, that glass is still in one piece.

8. Pretzel necklace. In fact, do what Teresa did and make an extra for someone that didn’t think of theirs. They will love you for it! And expect everyone around you to eat your pretzels off your neck, because they will.

Wade bites ...

 

9. Be nice. This should be a given. We are all there to have fun. And most people were super, super nice. But there was one not-so-nice girl that decided to call my friend a bitch (for the record, she said this in response to my friend saying “excuse me” as we walked by her. Seriously.) When my friend stuck up for herself, the girl’s boyfriend decided to step in and head butt my friend. For real. My friend had a headache the next day, and not just from the beer. So not cool.

10. The most important tip: BEER TOUR. They had many beer tours throughout the day, and I have to admit, the more we went on the fuzzier they got, and my knowledge of the beers I was tasting definitely got less. BUT, if you’re on a beer tour, you get to skip to the front of the line. Did I mention there were about 7,000 people there? Is now a good time to tell you I didn’t stand in a single line?

Meghan leads the beer tour ...

 

P.S. I have to say that I am absolutely in love with the new NoDa Brewing, and I cannot wait until they open their doors on Oct. 29. And of course, mark your calendars for Feb. 4 – QC Brew Fest. You better believe I’ll be there with pretzels on. Who’s joining?