My beer festival volunteering debut session came only last weekend. Having been involved in the beer scene for coming on a decade now, that seems a long time coming (almost embarrassingly so) – and I wish I’d put my hand up sooner.
Being on the other-side of the two taps and table has blown open my perspective on beer festivals. And if you’re also a festival volunteer first-timer, here’s a little idea of what to expect.
The Anticipation: You’re awaiting an onslaught of beer fans – as thirsty and eager for delicious beers as you’ve ever been. This is a time to feel pensive and question whether your beer knowledge is going to be up to scratch. Don’t worry though, if you’re keen enough to volunteer at a beer festival, you probably know your gueuze from your gose. And if you’re lucky, you’ll have a good tag team partner from the brewery who’s there ready to help out with any questions about the technical stuff.
The Calm Before The Storm: Realising it’s going to be at least an hour until the thousands are queuing for the wares of countless breweries in attendance. This is your chance to talk to fellow beer lovers who’ve taken a day of holiday to be here, network with brewers who you’ll likely never get such a great chance to talk to again and ensure any last minute questions about how to work the dispense system, or where to pour out the drip trays are answered in advance. You don’t want to forget about tray.
The Beat Drops: The 1975 play, the doors open and everyone rushes to their inaugural brewery. You know, the one they’ve been salavating to try since the taplist was announced, and the one you’ve been making friends at to get a glass or two of later. If you’ve been placed on one of these hype breweries – your day certainly ain’t going to be boring.
The Maelstrom: The crowd have sampled all there is to sample from the headliner breweries. And if you haven’t been assigned to a ‘unicorn’ stand, they’re coming for you now. Suddenly, the initial lull you found yourself in has morphed into a hullabaloo. This is what you signed-up for; and this will be your next few hours. Enjoy talking beer.
The Calm – Part II: Last orders have been called. A scramble to get one more in before kicking-out time. And then quiet descends. Help yourself to a beer whilst you’re cleaning up your bar. You’ve done good, beer fan. Get yourself home and get to bed. Your bounty is coming tomorrow.
The Reward: You’ve earned this my friend. You look over at volunteers on the stands, clad in the same attire you were the day before. You’ll both recognise something in the eyes of the other, but it’s a bond unspoken as you order up a DIPA to reward yourself for the previous day’s work. Be polite. Although it may seem a lifetime ago, you were in their shoes once.
The Haze: It’s the afternoon after your second day. You’ve just woken up, and fingers crossed you’ve had the foresight to fill the fridge with your comfort food of choice. As you lay there in your fuzzy-wuzzy state, you think back to the last couple of days: the beers you’ve supped, the festival food you’ve indulged in and the people you’ve met. Although today may seem like a forever, this last weekend has been a beer geek’s dream; face-to-face with your brewing heroes and a chance to sample the best the world has to offer for free. Worthy of a try, don’t you think?
Photo Credit: Beavertown Brewery