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Festival tactics

I know beer festivals vary from country to country on formats with pay as you go/tokens to free once inside, etc, etc.

My question is more about how you go about your drinking at a festival; in what order do you choose your beers?

I always try and pre-plan my attack with a list of priorities from the beer list.

When it’s a British one I tend to go for new breweries first, then new local beers (meaning from Shropshire for me) followed by hitting counties of England I have few ratings from. Old favourites then get a look in.

German and Belgian ones I go for new breweries too, then whatever takes my fancy.

Never been to a North American beer fest, but have managed to attend ones in Corfu and Denmark once.


I alway take a good look at the beer list if one is published in advance. And then add a load of beers on to here😁

Will normally go for the following order:

  1. New local breweries (Berks, Hants, Surrey, + b-list counties Dorset, Wiltshire and West Sussex) and countries.
  2. New local beers
  3. Style ticks
  4. New brewries
  5. New beers from favourites
  6. Whatever I haven’t had
    *Plus anything particularly ltd up front.

So I only spent about an hour at Egham last November before heading to Reading as I wanted to tick off Old Windsor, Ealing and Marko Paulo.

At GBBF I ticked off the particular counties and breweries I was after first when I was solo and then went for random US stuff and others when I had company .

In the US, you have to manage lines quite carefully. I have tried to make plans before, but they end up scuppered very quickly when it turns out the brewery I wanted to try a load of beers from has blown up and now has a huge line that I can’t be bothered waiting in. I then just end up drinking anywhere without a line.


Get the list. Check off new to me beers. Rate those. If I have remaining capability, go for old favorites, if any. Otherwise, grab some very unhealthy and tasty food!

I try to stagger the hoppy ones with some darker brews in between, and go higher up the ABV until I reset with some food, or water. Just to give a chance to my taste buds to cool down. If I start with an Other Half IPA for example, the next five beers will all taste hoppy for me. The first thing I do at a festival is trying to locate a water source to rinse the tasting glass.

Usually the first beer I see when coming through the door, then I usually go through all the region and country ticks that I want to get. I do not usually plan too much (also I have to account for my wife who has her own agenda at beer festivals). If it is a large festival, we usually tackle regions of the festival and work around the whole thing. Also, at certain festivals I ensure that I eat a bunch of food to ensure I do not repeat what happened at the first Green City or Savor a few years back…

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Most UK festivals don’t have any water facilities. And a lot do halves as the smallest serving. So the first thing I look for is a pot plant to pour away my beers into.

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Don’t plan in advance. If I see something that takes my fancy I’ll buy it. Much less stressful that way.

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Depends on the festival really. For some of the more intensive festivals I’ll make an Untappd list of the interesting beers. Generally I wan’t to hit those with highest Untappd scores. Usually there are several white whales which are priority so I’ll check their locations and share the info with my wingman.

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