On the Subject of Beer Festivals

Hey, remember that time I took a really, really long hiatus without warning? Yeah, me neither. (But seriously: sorry! I’m back now, I promise.)

Note to self: when attending beer festivals with unlimited samplers, keep in mind that you are a lightweight. If you don’t, and end up having over 40 five-ounce glasses in three hours, you will end up sobbing into a slice at Two Boots Pizza. At 4:30pm. On Halloween. And that is the ugly truth, my friends.

ryan gosling
Once again, I have disappointed Ryan Gosling (via Giphy)

I went into last October’s NYC Craft Beer Festival with the best of intentions. Having volunteered the night before, I was pleasantly surprised with a VIP pass to the next afternoon’s session. It was Halloween, but no big deal, I figured. Since the session started at 1pm, I’d have plenty of time to pace myself, try some good beers and sober up enough to go out with my friends that evening.

Downside to being a volunteer = not being allowed to taste the beer you’re serving. So I was extra excited to gain entry the next day.

You’d think I’d know myself better by now, especially when the VIP pass allowed me an extra hour of drinking (An extra hour to pace myself, I thought naively). We also had access to a curtained-off lounge. As soon as I walked in, I noticed a sign leading to secret area.

They didn’t do a great job of keeping it secret, tbh.

I asked two people about it: one claimed you had to pay extra, the other said you didn’t. I decided to try my luck – the worst they could do is kick me out, right? So in I went, immediately recognizing two other volunteers. Surely that must mean I’m allowed to be here!

Sitting in front of me was a dream: a line-up of ten or so bottles of beers I’d never tried before, as well as Dieu Du Ciel’s Pêché Mortel! I immediately goaded my friends into trying it (I can’t hide my Montreal pride) and proceeded to taste as many beers as I could.

Eight months later and I’m still drooling over that Troy cider.

After six or seven samples, another volunteer appeared and proclaimed that we needed a special armband to be there – which I decidedly did not have. Whoops! I grabbed one last sample from the bartender and quickly made my exit.

By that time, I was tipsy. I continued on with my volunteer friends for a while. Let me tell you, it’s not easy keeping up with two dudes over six feet tall when you are definitely not one.

But all that beer was just so tasty!

By the time we were ushered out so the next sessions could start, the whole world was a blur. Obviously, I did not make it to my Halloween party that night (see above RE: crying into pizza).

But at least The Dude abides, as he always does. Two Boots’ artwork definitely cheered me up.

My recommendation? Bring a buddy who can drink at least three times as much as you can.

Especially if that buddy comes with coffee.

That’s what I did for February’s Extreme Beer Festival in Boston. I decided to accept that as a lightweight, I probably shouldn’t finish any beers that I wasn’t absolutely in love with. Beer Nerd Boyfriend was there for that. I was prepared to be the Robin to his beer-soaked Batman. As we stood in line before the start of the festival, I thought I was ready; I had mapped out the bathrooms, we had a list of priority beers, I made Nick promise we’d stop for food after an hour or two.

And then it all went out the window as soon as I walked in the door.


I was surrounded by taps, excited beer nerds, and some of the weirdest stuff I’d ever seen – peanut butter beer? Barrel aged everything? TOMATO GOSE?

That Tomato Gose was from these guys, and it was delicious.

Before I knew it, I was tipsy turvy at 4:30pm again, eating nachos at a nearby pub and embarrassing Beer Nerd Boyfriend with my public declarations of love.

The face of shame (note how it’s still light outside).

Was it all worth it? Hell yes. But I like to think I learned my lesson. Maybe. How about you just ask me after the next beer festival?

N.B. I’m all about moderation and definitely don’t condone drinking like this all the time. Or even most of the time. Two times a year is pretty ideal, actually. And please, for Pete’s sake, never drink and drive! Pete will thank you later when you call him an Uber.


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