I have been to my share of Oktoberfests and beer tastings. However, I did not know what to expect after agreeing to attend the Great American Beer Festival in Denver. Every October, Denver hosts the festival where the best-of-the-best American microbrewies bring beer to be rated, and tickets sell out fast! I had even built up my tolerance levels before attending.

Here are some quick tips on getting the most of a beer festival without having any major regrets or crazy hangovers after–unless that is why you attend:

Southern Tier Pumking tasting

Build up a tolerance.

I am not in college anymore. The days of rebounding after a night of drinking are progressively harder, so I increased my weekly drinking. Like I train for hikes and climbs, I had to train to drink more, which was not hard with all the pumpkin flavored beers hitting the stores.

Do research.

I know what types of beer I like and favor, but that doesn’t mean I can’t sample new ones. Researching the famous breweries or ones that have won past GABF medals help when navigating the 700+ breweries on the floor.

Formulate a plan.

If you are able, get a map of the floor layout. This will allow you to head to the breweries that tap out early. Also, are you staying with friends or is it a free for all? I found that staying with only 1 to 2 people was optimal since everyone has their own tastes.

Rare Beer Tasting

Pace yourself.

Even with the small tasting glasses, it is important to pace yourself. At the Rare Beer tasting, I felt bad pouring out aged beer, but the high alcohol content made me regret that decision later.


Hydrate hours or even a day before the event. The older I get, I try to balance a beer with a water while I am drinking more than one with dinner.

Taste and dump.

It is not worth getting extra buzzed or missing an opportunity to taste other beers because you are still trying to stomach a beer that didn’t match your tastes. It is just like dating, if you don’t like it, get rid of it. No one should judge you for not finishing beer that you do not like. If if they do, maybe they aren’t good beer drinking friends….

Great American Beer Festival

Hydrate and snack/eat.

Did I mention to stay hydrated? Oh yeah, keep that water to beer ratio going and add some snacks or food to absorb all the liquid. Make pretzel necklaces for snacking on the go.

Rate your beer.

With so many beers to taste, figure out the best way to track what you are drinking and rate it. If you really like a beer that you may want to buy for a party or just to have again, rating beers help remember the good ones. I use a phone app called Untappd. It is similar to FourSquare, where it allows you to check into beers and places to earn badges for the beers you drink.

Have fun.

Most importantly, have fun and be safe. Consider taking a Lyft or Uber back or walk off some of the alcohol you just tried before trying to go anywhere.

How do you survive a beer festival?

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