Beer festival

Drinking beer….but not too much


Yesterday I blogged about my upcoming beer-centric few days in Melbourne, the craft beer capital of Australia. I also blogged about my habit of overplanning. That’s something which extends to working out how I’m going to get through those few days without ending up like the “tired and emotional” people in the photo above.

I have blogged before about the problems I encounter at beer festivals and other events – and the other problems I encounter after them. In a nutshell, I go too hard to early and end up drunk well before the event has run its course. So then I go back to my hotel and wake up feeling rather sick the next morning.

So here’s some ideas I’ve come up with to help me through the days.

Don’t just drink beer: I’ve nicked this one from James at Beer Bar Band who included it in a Good Beer Week advisory blog a few years ago (I would have linked to it but I couldn’t find it but James has kindly provided a link in the comments section below). He recommended traveling around with a bottle of a sports drink and drinking from it throughout the event. That way, you’re rehydrating during the event and don’t end up with a massive absence of water in your system at the end of the night. Also the physical act of drinking water causes you to stop drinking beer, which is helpful too.

Exercise a bit: While I’m tramming it to some events, there are others I’ll be walking to. That’s to get some fresh air, exercise and maybe even get the body to start burning a bit of alcohol for energy. It will also simply make me feel better and reduce my drinking time (I opted against catching cabs everywhere because I figured being picked up at one pub and driven straight to the next was just asking for trouble.

Eat something, you idiot: Even though I know food in the stomach helps when you’re drinking, too often I treat it as an afterthought. That sometimes means I don’t eat anything at all. Which always means I get drunk too fast and feel like crap the next day. So while in Melbourne, I’ve included food in the itinerary – have lunch at this pub, dinner at that brewery. And there will be no skipping of those meals either.

Praise the pot: The default beer-drinking measure in Melbourne is the pot (aka the middy in NSW). In NSW we don’t bother with the middy, preferring the bigger serve afforded by the schooner. So northern visitors can whine about drinking from “little” pots, but not me. I’ll be embracing the smaller serving size while visiting the Pint of Origin pubs as it will allow me to try more of the beers (if they have a tasting paddle, I’ll go for that instead.

Think about your future self: Given that I have things I really want to do each day, I really don’t want to wipe a day because I’m hungover (which happens much easier the older I get). So I want to enjoy each day but not too much. This will likely mean missing out on trying a few beers at a pub one night, but the very appealing trade-off is that it will allow me to try more the next day. Giving up two beers on Thursday night, so I can sample 10 or 20 the next day – it’s a no brainer.

With the Great Australasian Beer Spectapular being an all-day event for me, it requires a few specific rules.

Focus on the favourites: I’ve worked out my top 30 beers at GABS, so if I leave at the end of the day having tasted all of them, I’ll be happy. I’m there for two sessions, so that’s a very doable 15 beer samples a session – with time to get something to eat. If I get to sample a few other beers not in the top 30, then that’s a bonus.

There are too many beers: With more than 90 new beers available it’s simply not possible to try them all in one day. That’s 45 beers a session – I’d be a mess before the second session. Knowing there are too many stops me worrying about missing out because it’s inevitable that I’ll miss out.

It’s a long day: The day starts at noon and ends at 11pm with a two-hour break between sessions. So there’s simply no need for me to try and smash down as many of those 30 beers as I can in the first two hours. I need to keep this in mind and relax when those doors open up for the first session.

It’s an experience: It’s unlikely that I’ll make it to another GABS, so I want to take in as much as I can in the day I’m there. That means not just going back and forth from the bar to the tables. It means checking out the food section. It means just walking around the venue. It means going over to check out the Beer Market and saying hi to some of the brewers I know. It means looking in on a Craft Beer College event. It means looking at the bigger picture, rather than focusing on how much beer I can get down my throat.

5 replies »

  1. Planning ahead is such great advice and something that seems built into your gameplan. I’ve found by coming up with a list of “wants” before any beer fest keeps me in the mindset of finding the next tasty sample instead of just wandering down a line of tables and loading up.

    Hope you have a great time!

    • I’m hoping the list will keep me focused on the beers I want to try rather than getting distracted by whatever’s in front of me. Some of the beers at GABS will likely never be seen again, so it makes sense for me to try my best to get to the ones that appeal to me.

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