When the winter weather begins to give way to warmer spring days, it signals the beginning of beer festival season. Ah, the heady days of freely flowing beer from what seem like never-ending taps, with dozens upon dozens of beers from craft brewers far and wide. The tinkle of a beer-tasting cup hitting the ground when a tipsy imbiber drops it and the endless lines where beer-lovers meet other beer-lovers and swap whale stories (for the uninitiated, whales are what beer aficionados call extremely rare beers). These are the experiences beer fest attendees crave … or are they?
According to online ticketing and event-planning platform Eventbrite, Millennials are indeed interested in big beer festivals that present hundreds of beers to sample, but they’re also interested in other types of events. Overwhelmingly, by a margin of 96 percent, the reason cited for going to craft beer fests was to experience new beers. Following that, with 77 percent, were events paired with food, like bacon or barbecue, and 67 percent who said they prefer festivals that benefit a charitable organization.
Over the next few months, those seeking festivals won’t be disappointed. The first of the local hops-centric happenings, Riverside Craft Beer Festival, is this weekend. It’s at the site of the popular Riverside Arts Market on Saturday, Feb. 27, under the Fuller Warren Bridge. Now in its third year, the festival attracted more than 4,000 attendees in its first two years. Put on each year by Rotary Club of Riverside, it benefits Community PedsCare, Community Hospice’s pediatric program. Expect to find more than 100 quaffs to sample, 11 food trucks and music by The Firewater Tent Revival.
Experienced festival-goers recommend you follow a few simple tips to ensure full enjoyment and stay safe. One of the most important nuggets of advice: Remember that beer festivals are marathons, not sprints; they’re designed for folks to taste new beers, not to be drunk fests. Other tips: Stay hydrated (meaning water; alcohol is dehydrating) and get home safely by taking a cab or Uber (meaning do not drink and drive).
No matter what reason you give to attend beer festivals, when you do, be sure to try new beers and expand your experiences. You may find a new favorite brew.
Here are some Florida festivals to check out:
4-7 p.m. Feb. 27; VIP 3-7 p.m.
Under Fuller Warren Bridge, 715 Riverside Ave.
General admission $35 if bought online at Eventbrite before Feb. 25; $40 at gate. VIP admission $50
2-5 p.m. Feb. 27; VIP 1-5 p.m.
1440 Sportsman Lane N.E., Palm Bay
$30 in advance if bought online at spacecoastcraftbeerfestival.com; $40 at gate
4-10 p.m. April 16
SeaWalk Pavilion, First Street North, Jax Beach
Admission is free, but attendees can register at Eventbrite for a wristband entitling wearer to