As someone who frequently writes about and cooks with the Nectar of the Gods, it isn’t surprising that I’m also a beer festival and tasting veteran. Here’s my guide on how to navigate beer festivals, tastings, and open houses. If you’re looking for information on food festival or festivals in general, check out this post.
Brewery open houses in Texas are not allow to sell you beer, which means that the beers are free. With that in mind, be prepared. Be prepared to wait, and be prepared to brave the crowds. Most brewery open houses are held outdoors (with the exception of St.Arnold’s in Houston), so be prepared to brave the weather as well.
- ID. Even if you look like you’re 85 years old, TABC could be watching. No one wants trouble with TABC so bring your license and don’t pitch a fit if you’re required to show it.
- Cash. While beer cannot be sold at the brewery, other items can be sold. Frequently, shirts, glasses, caps, hoodies, and other items will be on sale. Cash is preferable, and checks are sometimes okay. Credit cards probably won’t get you very far. Usually, outside food vendors are brought in, and they usually don’t have a credit card machine either.
- Shoes. You’re outside in Texas. It will either be really hot or really cold. You’ll need shoes for either situation.
- Sunblock. There’s no reason to damage your skin and your liver. Just pick one organ to destroy at a time.
- Water. While the beer may be plentiful, water is sometimes difficult to find. Be safe and bring an unopened bottle if you can.
- Snacks. And sometimes there is no food provided at brewery open houses. Pack a power bar, banana, apple, or some crackers.
- Chair. If you can’t stand for long periods of time, bring a chair. The brewery most likely will not have any.
- A designated driver. You can destroy your own liver, but please don’t destroy another person’s life.
- Your manners. Don’t piss off people. Don’t be rude. Breweries are giving you free beer. Don’t forget that. Be grateful and courteous to other attendees, brewery employees, and volunteers. Being rude may get you the boot.
As many outdoor events, particularly in Austin, are dog friendly, here’s a list of what to bring when taking the puppy out for some beer fun.
- Dog on leash. Do NOT bring your dog off-leash. Worst case scenario is that your dog is hit by a car. I’ve been to so many festivals where dogs are running the street because the owners are too busy doing something else. The leash is for safety. Use it.
- Water + drinking bowl. I bring a water jug with a shoulder strap for my dogs because they drink directly out of the jug. Dogs need water throughout the day as well.
- Poop bags. Nature calls. Clean it up. No one wants to step in dog poop. Or human poop either. Keep a diaper on the babies.
- Snacks. If you’re out and about for a long period of time, bring snacks for the puppies. If you can’t go eight hours without food, why should your dog go without food. I also bring treats for my dogs because I use every outing as a training session.
- Your dog’s manners. No one likes cranky people, and no one likes rude dogs. Please train your dog how to behave appropriately in public before bringing it out to play.
- Long lines. Even if you arrive an hour early, expect that there will already be other people in line. My advice is always get in line as soon as possible. As soon as you get your beer, get back in line.
- Crowds. If you hate crowds, you might want to avoid these events. You’ll probably be happier buying a few six packs and staying home.
- Cranky and drunk people. Sometimes people indulge just a bit too much. Please be tolerant of others who make poor decisions. Save the drama for another time and place.
- Weather. It could be cold and rainy in May or it could be sweltering hot in October. Except weird weather.
- Other cool beer nerds. Brewery events attract tons of beer lovers. Expect to make friends. Bring your business cards or some other way to jot down a phone number.
- Beer to run out: Get there early.