Beer Festivals and their pitfalls

Over the course of the last few months I imagine you have been to quite a few beer festivals, purely in the interest of research, of course. From the Great British Beer Festival in London which attracts 55,000 visitors and offers over 700 beers to regional festivals, and also local ones held in pubs. Every weekend for the past and foreseeable future, has got a beer festival pencilled in. 

Which has prompted me to write about Beer Festivals and some do’s and don’t’s. This is purely subjective and light hearted, so don’t take offence if your idea of a Great Beer Festival is lying under a table whilst everyone else around you has fun.


Do take your time to wander round when you arrive and check out all the beers you would like to try. It’s not a trolley dash - the beer will still be there when you come back. If you’re lucky.

Be adventurous. This is your opportunity to try something different to your usual tipple, and with most festivals offering third of a pint measures it really, REALLY doesn’t matter if you get a beer you don’t like. You haven’t bust your overdraft or purchased a duff car. It’s a beer, and you don’t have to force it down. Just ask the bar staff to get rid of the remnants in your glass, start again and put it down to experience

Embrace the atmosphere. Not everyone will be your cup of tea but you could say that about the regulars in your local pub on a Friday night. Everyone at beer festivals has a shared love of beer and they’re there for a good time. So make some beer-friends!

Eat some food. Seriously. Most good Beer Festivals understand the importance of offering decent food, be it local pies, a hog roast or a steaming cauldron of curry. Yes, it cuts into drinking time and yes, a packet of Quavers is cheaper, but your head will thank you the following day

Be nice to the staff. At regional festivals, they are all volunteers, they don’t get paid, and they do it for the love of beer. They’ll definitely develop selective hearing and sight next time you visit the bar if you were obnoxious, belligerent, lecherous (or all three) when you ordered your last drink 


Do not feel totally intimidated by the huge variety of beers or the size of the venue. In other words, don’t head straight to the nearest bar, order the strongest beer going (or the one with the most appealing pump clip). You’ll miss out on the fun of exploring the festival, and trying something different

Don’t get stuck talking to random bloke who wants to discuss the intricacies of single hopped beers. There is a reason he is on his own. And there is no escape.

Don’t put in song requests to the band. It might seem a brilliant idea at the time to request the album version of ‘Stairway to Heaven’/’Smoke on the Water’ (or any track which involves a self indulgent 10 minute guitar or drum solo) but you will be sorely disappointed. They are not Led Zeppelin. They are usually four blokes from Batley.

Don’t get sidelined into sticking to one particular beer “because it’s so awesome”. You’ll miss out on at least 20 equally awesome beers

Don’t hit the ‘Specialist’ beer bar (think Belgian/Abbey/Trappist beers) until later on. These beers may be fabulous beyond belief but they’re potent. Waking up under a table as the cleaners sweep up debris around you is not a good place to be. As is finding yourself at Peterborough Railway station instead of Wakefield Westgate because you “had a short snooze on the train”

And lastly – Respect the Fest! They take a lot of organizing, hard graft, and clearing up afterwards. Go to have a good time and let everyone else do the same.

Beer Festivals and their pitfalls

Annabel Smith drinking beer​​​​​​​


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