Summertime brings with it dozens of beer festivals. That's great news! The only downside is that many fall on the same day or weekend and can make a nice dent in your wallet.. and liver. You can't go to them all, so you're going to have to make some hard decisions. But how? Flipping a coin and risk missing out on the event you should've gone to? Banish the thought.
Here are 10 questions to ask yourself when choosing the best beer festivities this summer.
How will I get home? Public transportation is lacking in Orange County and drunk driving is bad, so the first question you should always ask before a beer festival is "Who can drive?" If there are any transportation incentives provided by the evnet, like Uber vouchers or discounted designated driver tickets, the host of the event probably cares about your safety and well-being. They probably deserve your money too.
Is there going to be food? This is my real first question when picking an event. It's a no brainer -- what goes best with beer? Food. Food helps cleanse your hop-soaked palate while balancing out all that alcohol you're going to be consuming. And while most events might have food for purchase from a food truck or caterer, always pay extra attention to the festivals that will provide free food. No explanation necessary.
How many tasters do I get? Each beer celebration will either give you an allotment of tasters tickets or let you have unlimited tasters, restricted only by your stomach and lines. It should go without saying that unlimited tasters is tempting, but remember to check out the quality of the beer too.
Where is my money going? If a portion of your ticket purchase is going to a nonprofit of some sort, be decent and support that event. Orange County microbreweries are big on community, and their donation will only go back to you. Do the right thing and drink for that animal shelter -- the kittens and puppies need you.
Can I get most of this beer again? The answer to this question will oftentimes dictate your entire decision, and it's up to you what's important. Widely available beer lacks novelty but can be endearing in its reliability. Some people can't stand a brief tryst with a small batch beer while others live for the lust. The choice is yours.
Will there be a good variety? If the event you're contemplating only provides beer from one or two breweries, take a pass and go for the festivals bringing the goods. The beauty of a beer fest lies in the consumer's ability to explore beer from places they may not be able to trek to. If you find a Southern California festival that's hosting beer from other counties, states or countries, take advantage.
Will there be entertainment? A gathering of beer enthusiasts should offer more than your typical day brewery hopping. It can be easy to circle some breweries in one area and maybe grab some food in the process, but, will you get live music, games, and food trucks? Music pulls together any large event so don't pass those events up.
Do I get something to take home with me for free? Many festivals will have a little something for you to take home--usually your event tasting glass. If that isn't the best keepsake from a beer festival, I'm not sure what is. It's petite and reminds you exactly what the event was all about when you wake up the next morning. But really, whether you're getting a lanyard, a key chain, a bottle opener or a tasting glass, an extra something for you to reminisce over or brag about to your friends should be worth your attendance.
Is this an indoor or outdoor event? The Orange County sun will typically push these events outside, and while the rest of the country screams at us not to complain, remember that the summer sun can burn your skin and warm your beer. Then again, an indoor event won't provide that sweet breeze and can fill up quickly. The pros and cons are for you to weigh.
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What is the parking situation going to be like? We've come full circle with another transportation question. Beer event ticket prices will range from about $30 to $60. Having to also pay somewhere between $5 and $10 for parking is less than ideal. And walking over a mile for free (crowded) street parking? Not after a day of drinking.
But remember, after debating about the answers to all these questions, at the end of the day, if an event surrounds you with good friends, good food and good beer, it will always be worth it. Happy summer, everyone.