festival etiquette

Don’t Smoke ‘Em, Even If You’ve Got ‘Em

Last summer, Draft magazine published its complete guide to “Festiquette”: 30 rules for making your beer festival experience, and everyone else’s, better. The rules include “Eat breakfast”, “Don’t pee on random surfaces”, “Don’t break up”, and—people have actually tried this—“Don’t lie and say you own Draft magazine to get into VIP”.

After a bad experience at this year’s Arizona Strong Beer Festival, Draft has added Rule 31: “Leave the cigars at home”. The magazine’s staff contends that smoking cigars is not only a tacky exercise in conspicuous consumption, but it also ruins the purpose of a festival—namely, tasting and enjoying beer—for others. As they put it, “We liken people who light up at beer festivals to people who microwave fish at work: Sure, you’re allowed to do it, but by doing it, you’re creating discomfort for the people around you.”

At a Festival, Don’t Be An “Alehole”.

Beer-Simple.com runs a series called “What Brewers Wish You Knew”. The latest installment is about beer festival etiquette. The site asked brewery owners, brewers, and staff what behavior annoys them the most at festivals. Their comments are directed at a small minority—Beer-Simple calls them “aleholes”—and they fall into three categories: “The Beer”, “The Attendee”, and “The Brewer”.

A sampling of comments:

  • “No, I don’t have anything like f***ing Blue Moon…”
  • “Tell me outright if you don’t like my beer.” Smiling politely and saying “that’s great!” before going to dump what, to you, tastes like backwash sweetened with rotten peaches, isn’t helping them (or you).
  • “Don’t just walk up and ask for ‘whatever.’ If you don’t know what I’m giving you, you won’t remember my brewery.”
  • “I don’t need your credentials. Telling me you’re a homebrewer or a judge isn’t really telling me anything. Tell me what you like to drink and why, maybe—at least then I can evaluate your reaction.”
  • “No, I’m not drunk all the time.” Brewers have heard every joke there is about being surrounded by beer all day, but this go-to seems to be a very common one. If they drank all day, when would they brew?
  • “If you’ve just had a cigar, don’t bother me. You can’t taste anything right now.”
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