I don’t hide the fact that I am not a fan of pouring beer at public beer festivals.

While there are some passionate craft beer lovers mixed in the crowd, there are usually more people there trying to get insanely drunk for as cheap as possible. I’m guessing their thought process is something along the lines of:  “Three gallons of the cheapest beer I can buy is $30 and the beer fest tickets are only $25. If I really put forth the effort to over consume, I can get so seriously drunk I won’t be able to drink for several days, thus saving myself even more money.”

I’m pretty sure the fests tell everyone not to allow people to over consume, but I still see it happen. I won’t serve beer to someone that appears intoxicated. Of course, when I cut someone off, they get upset, which is another reason I don’t like public festivals.

Don’t get me wrong, some fests have better crowds than others and I think there are a number of really wonderful people that attend these things. I love talking about craft beer with those folks and I’m sure it has a positive effect on craft beer as a whole to engage these beer lovers, but I just don’t have the peace of mind and saintly level of inner solitude that it takes to deal with the other people.

The “consumers” that bug me the most are those that say, “Gimme your lightest beer.” The first 369 times I responded with, “Are you referring to color? Alcohol? Body? Hopping?” And the response was always the same, “I don’t like beer. What doesn’t have a lot of taste to it? Gimme that one.”

“I don’t think we make a beer you would like,” I respond. “Maybe you should try another booth, as I don’t want you to waste a ticket on beer you wouldn’t like.”

“No, no. Gimme whatever you got,” they insist.

“I’m sure you would be happier drinking something else,” I suggest.

“No, just gimme anything. I don’t want to wait in line again.” So, you have to pour it. Sure, some of them end up thinking it wasn’t so bad, despite the fact that it has bold flavors. However, the majority probably just look at it as more alcohol toward oblivion.

I can handle this a couple times a year, but when I do several of these events close together, the willingness to deal with these folks abandons me. When they ask for the lightest beer, I just go straight to, “You won’t like our beer. Try another booth.” Of course, it never changes the outcome. They still insist and I still pour them the beer with a smile.

I guess this is why I like to have other people who are much more kind, understanding and tolerant than I go to these events. Sure, I still love meeting people passionate about craft beer, but I wish there was a better way than public beer fests to connect with them.

Oh, there is… The American Homebrewer’s Association conference is full of beer geeks. Awesome. I wouldn’t miss it. And then there are some other homebrewer-run campouts in northern and southern California and probably elsewhere in the country. I’m not sure how they keep out the non-beer geeks, but those are great too. By attending these events, it keeps my spirits up and my mouth shut at the public festivals when the next person asks, “What do you have without any taste?”


  1. Art Whitaker says:

    Obviously Jamil hasnt poured at any Rhizome Production(Nashville,TN) events. The organizer Matt Leff insists that a brewery representative be at the festival to educate the guests and charges enough money to scare away the non craft fan. His last two festivals have sold out in less than 20 minutes. Jamil, we would love to have you come to Nashville for one of his events!

  2. matt says:

    You must be going to the wrong events! Let me know when you want to come visit Nashville, TN!

  3. Angela Arp says:

    AMEN Jamil! I love most people at a beerfest (from the newbies to the beer geeks), but one or two really drunk A-holes can ruin your whole day!

  4. Chris says:

    Jamil, that is why they should invite Coors Brewing Co. to their beer festivals. That way when some idiot asks for a beer without flavour, you can send them over to Coors. Budweiser is always at our local beer fest, but I don’t mind as they have hot chicks as servers.

  5. Jamil, I agree with all. If you do not like beer, why did you show up to a beer fest? I love taking beer, the style and what went into making the brew. The one thing that really chaps my hide is when you explain it may not be to their liking. You pour and they sip and they pour it out in to the bucket. Next…

    • Jake S says:


      You need to get creative. You need to have a bit of fun with this. After you determine that you are certainly dealing with someone trying to get drunk, rather than someone is a fan of session craft beers, hit them with your most bitter hop bomb.

      Sure, it hurts to waste a few ounces of a hop-bomb IPA that took lbs and lbs of hops to make, but the bitter beer face has got to be priceless!

      Hope you get to have some fun at some drunk-tard’s expense!


  6. […] We start off 2013 with a thorny question. The Beer Festival idiots. I was spurred to write about this after reading a blog post on the Heretic Brewing website, which you can read HERE) […]

  7. Schwanz says:

    Here is how you handle the non beer geeks, get a sexy girl to serve the beer. You sit back and be the legendary homebrewer turned pro. When the true geeks have questions you talk with them because that is what you like to do. The rest of the beertards will be too busy oogling the pretty girl to care. They get their beer and you get piece of mind.


  8. Ace Paradis says:

    Sounds like you might want to start offering bottled water with your lineup?

  9. htunlin says:

    A good light beer doesn’t have to be tasteless, but rather subtle and noteworthy.
    By the same token, a well-crafted beer doesn’t have to be crazed hoppy like an Australian

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