9. Skip The Lines
Outside and inside. I used to be one of those beer geeks who showed up hours early, thinking I'd get inside quickly. But the pros behind the scenes at GABF have streamlined the entry process so the line flies compared to past years. I don't show up all that early anymore. Sure, you'll stand a mile away somewhere along Speer Boulevard at the end of the line, but the line moves really quickly and let's face it, it's good exercise considering the calories to come. Same advice goes for inside. There will always be long lines for popular breweries and rare beers. Skip the long lines and head for lesser-known breweries which are often serving up stuff that's just as interesting as the "buzzy" breweries and celebrity brewmasters.
8. Pretzel Necklaces
No, you're not too cool to wear one. They serve a real purpose. You'll need palate cleansers after big beers. It's no fun when a habanero-infused beer napalms your senses and the next dozen samples taste like seltzer.
7. Don't Criticize
Someone poured their sweat and tears into the beer you're drinking. Hopefully not literally (although that might produce a unique style not unlike a Gose). If you don't like a beer you sample, just move along. Pour it out into the washout bucket at the next brewery. No brewery employee, or volunteer pourer, needs to hear you badmouth someone else's hard work.
6. PortaPotty At The Far End
A few years back, bladders rejoiced when GABF installed a long row of portable johns in the back dock area. But it's just like the TSA screening line at DIA. Too many people stand in long lines for the first few stations. Keep moving! Chances are there will be a short wait on the far end. Sweet relief.
5. Get Merch Early
Planning to take home a GABF hat or T-shirt? The lines will be long at the GABF store at the end of the night. Grab your gear about 30 minutes from close, and then you won't be waiting there long after the last beer has been poured. Trust me, there's nothing sadder than being at a beer festival when the beer stops flowing.
4. Step Aside
One great thing about GABF is that you rarely have to wait in an extremely long line. Other beer festivals could learn from its example. Do your part to keep the lines moving. If you want to engage a brewery employee about the sample you're drinking, go for it, but step to the side of the table so that all the people behind you don't get too thirsty.
3. Keep Track Of What You Like.
You'll want to remember which beers you like so that you can look for them at bars and beer stores around town. Jot down a name or two – or use an app (the newly redesigned GABF app is slick, Untappd is another popular option). You don't have to use an 8,000-beer long Excel spreadsheet like a certain local news anchor with obsessive compulsive tendencies, just find some way to keep track of your favorites. And share what you like! One of the best things about GABF is when strangers share tips on great beers they've found, especially from lesser known breweries.
2. Hydrate and Pace Yourself
Sloppy doesn't look good on anyone. Don't let the small sample size fool you. Drink water, lots of it. There are plenty of water stations all around the GABF floor. Use them. The most famous last words spoken at GABF are "I'm going to get my money's worth." C'mon, son. Take it easy.
1. Get Home Safely
Your good time doesn't give you the right to put other people at risk. You never drink and drive? Great. Take it to the next level. Be willing to have an uncomfortable conversation with a friend to keep them from drinking and driving. Offer to pay for a cab or call a ride for your friend. They'll thank you in the morning. And I'll thank you right now.
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