Walking in a Winter Wond-beer-land

Tips for a Successful Beerfest

Feb 10, 2012 at 1:43 pm

There are plenty of beer festivals year-round in Cincinnati, but Cincy Winter Beerfest is the queen mother of them all. Duke Energy Convention Center downtown transforms into a beer haven this weekend, offering more than 300 craft brews.—-

For many first timers (or even veterans) walking into the event gives off a kid-in-a-candy-store feeling, with stouts and ales replacing chocolate and lollipops. Too many have fallen victim to this feeling, trying to chug their way through each delicious offering. If you want to get the most out of your ex-beer-ience (last one, I swear), here are a few tips.

Do Your Research
We've made this one pretty easy for you. Pick up a copy of this week's issue or go here for our official guide to the fest. Browse which brews you really want to try and learn about the special fest beers created just for this event. Once you get your map at the fest, make a game plan so you get to try all your favorites while you can still appreciate the finer details of each brew.

Be Comfy
For many, going out and drinking goes hand-in-hand with uncomfortable shoes and binding party clothes, but that should not be the case for this event. You're going to be walking around (and possibly stumbling around), so keep the shoe situation simple and comfortable. When it comes to dress, there's everything from jeans and tees to suits and dresses. Whatever you prefer is acceptable, but try to account for the beer bloat that will kick in around 9 p.m. A looser, stretchy ensemble is your BFF.Eat First
While beer is certainly filling, going to Beerfest on an empty stomach is a bad move. If you want to avoid getting belligerently drunk before 8 p.m. or even quietly passing out in a darkened corner of the giant Dukeplex, you've got to have some food in that belly. Eat a good meal a few hours before you come to the fest — don't stuff yourself, but get some good carbs in there to soak up all the alcohol. There will be food vendors on-hand, but think of those as snacks. Try the cheese-and-beer pairings, but go easy on the cheese coneys. Gorging on greasy food always sounds like a good idea, but ends up leaving you sleepy and feeling gross.

Drink Water

It's super important to alternate water between every couple samples. You'll get the most bang for your buck if you stay hydrated, and will feel a lot less horrible the next day. If you want to make it through all 25 of your samples (Spoiler Alert: after a while, most beer vendors stop keeping track of your sample numbers), keep guzzling that H2O! There are plenty of restrooms nearby.

Be Social
This is a great opportunity to mingle with like-minded beer lovers as well as expert brewers — chat 'em up! Social lubrication is all around you, so don't be afraid to ask questions about pairings, brewing techniques and where to access some of the beers from across the country and globe. Once you've got a good buzz, stop by the Bonnaroo-esque "silent disco" where you can grab a pair of headphones and get down to some DJ tunes. And be sure to stop by CityBeat's booth, where we'll be giving away some cool stuff.

Don't Be a Dumbass
Seriously. This event is all about good times, man. Someone will probably accidentally cut in front of you or steal your cab. Be cool. And speaking of cabs, use one, damn it! No one (besides official designated drivers, who can come for $15) should be driving after this. Hop on a bus, call your dad, whatever you need to do.