Bay Area Beer Fest 2014

Posted on September 30, 2014


Beer Fest Logo

Bay Area Beer Fest 101: Your Strategy for Making the Best of the Fest

The words “beer” and “fest” each conjure images of fun parties full of jolly belly laughs and care-free amusement, but put them together and you get more than just a pleasurable day out in the California sun. The Bay Area Beer Fest promises not only a day of good beer and good times, but also an opportunity to discover and learn about 30+ local microbrews and how they’re made.

If this is your first beer fest, you may be wondering what to expect. Not to worry, there are plenty of ways to make the most of what is sure to be an amazing day on the Peninsula.

First, Be Prepared.

It goes without saying that there will be drinking at a beer fest. Lots and lots of drinking. So it’s key ahead of time to designate a driver or plan your exit strategy for when the taps run dry. The San Mateo County Event Center is located within walking distance from a Caltrain station, and there’s always taxi and Uber service at the ready. Plus, you can leave your car overnight in the parking lot so there is absolutely no excuse to drink and drive. Of course, don’t forget your ID or you’ll become the designated driver yourself.

You’ll want to eat a nice lunch ahead of time. Don’t stuff yourself to the gills, but make sure your body is loaded with plenty of carbs and protein to soak up the alcohol. Plus, you’ll need the energy to walk around sipping suds in the sun all day. Equally important, make sure you hydrate ahead of time and all through the day. At least once an hour drink a glass of water. You don’t want to be the unfortunate soul barfing in the bushes because you forgot to take care of yourself!

Comfort Trumps Fashion at a Beer Fest.

It’s more important to be able to walk around for several hours than to look cute in your new pumps. An elastic waistband may not be easy on the eyes, but we all know how drinking beer can make the belly expand. At least wear lightweight, loose fitting clothes so you can enjoy the beer without worrying about a wardrobe malfunction of some sort. A wide-brimmed sun hat may seem dorky, but it’ll protect you from the rays, and potentially help you stay hydrated. Wear sunscreen, and have pockets to collect any brochures or little trinkets that you may pick up throughout the day. You’ll probably end up with beer goggles later in the day, but wear sunglasses anyways to protect you from the glare.

Make a Crafty Plan

Check the fest’s website ( ahead of time to get a general idea of which beers you absolutely must try. You may see that your favorite IPA will be flowing, but do you really want to squander an opportunity to discover something new on a tried and true classic? Make a plan for 4 or 5 new beers that you’ve never experienced but which pique your curiosity. That way you can give them a taste before you pay the microbrew six-pack price at the store. Prepped with a loose plan you won’t wander around aimlessly. You’ll have a place to start, but you’ll also have a chance to stumble into something new throughout the day.

Get a Lay of the Land

When you arrive at the fest, scan the area for your chosen breweries as well as the bathrooms. You’ll probably visit the restroom several times, and if you have an idea of where the less obvious loos are, you might be able to avoid long lines later. Bathroom lines are the perfect place to multitask. Take your mandatory water breaks while waiting in line, and maybe even get beer recommendations from your neighbors in line for the restroom. You may also want to post a selfie to your social media pages early… make a cutoff plan for when you’re no longer allowed to share. What happens at a beer fest stays at a beer fest, right?

Opportunity Knocks. Make the Most of Your Time.

Speaking of lines, keep in mind that time is limited. Why wait in a long line for one beer when you can just hit the shorter lines and maybe meet the brewer to ask about his beer? Brew masters from 21st Amendment Brewery, Mendocino Brewing Company, and Stone IPA will be on-site to talk about their masterpieces, and they’ll be more likely to talk if they don’t have 30 empty glasses to fill. Don’t be shy, but don’t be a know-it-all either. Ask genuine questions about the beer and how it’s made. Remember that this is the brewers’ art, so they’ll probably love to talk to someone with genuine interest. And if you see a fellow taster expressing their love of a particular beer, ask what they’re drinking. Not only will you get a recommendation of something you might not have thought to try, but you might just make a new friend. You’re here for the beer, but also for the fun, right? Don’t be shy!

If you really want to do the beer fest right, invest in the VIP package. You’ll probably end up spending the extra cash anyway, but that extra hour to taste beer and nosh on free food before the crowds arrive is totally worth it. Only in the VIP area can you talk to Cliff from Cali Craft. Plus you’ll get a commemorative cup, extra tastings and a t-shirt!

Beer Fest Mug 1

Have Fun, But Be Responsible

Tasting beer is a bit like tasting wine. There’s no right or wrong way to do it, but a general rule of thumb is to taste light to dark. The darker beers are heavier, so they might overwhelm your palate and fill you up if you have them too early. And know your ABVs. The brewers should have their Alcohol By Volume percentages posted, but don’t be afraid to ask. Try not to drink all high alcohol percentages, unless you’re looking to call it quits early, and aim to not get too tipsy too fast. Remember, this is a beer tasting, not a frat party. Respect the beer, the brewers, and your fellow beer tasters. The goal shouldn’t be to get wasted; you’re here to educate yourself and experience delicious creations. You can have that kind of fun later!

Another way of avoiding overindulging is to dump what you don’t like. The whole point of a beer tasting is to taste the variety, not just to swig yourself into oblivion. If you don’t like something, there’s no need to chug it. Save the belly space and sobriety for another taste of something you might truly love.

You’ll also have the opportunity to experience more than beer at this beer fest. Angel’s Envy Bourbon and Wild Turkey American Honey will be pouring samples, and there will be live music from Hairstrike, KFOX DJs, games like Foosball, shuffleboard and classic arcade games. You can also check out a line-up of cars including Model A’s, Model T’s, 1960-1970’s Chevy Novas, Corvettes and more.

Post For Posterity’s Sake

Bring a pen and a camera. If you taste enough beers, you and your friends may experience a foggy memory of the event. Take notes on your favorite beers to buy later, snap selfies with the brewers, make your other friends envious on facebook, twitter and Instagram. Use the hashtags #brewinthebay and #sanmateoeventcenter to share your photos and notes, and tag @smeventcenter for your chance to win tickets to an upcoming event. It will be fun later to look back at what a fun day you had at the Bay Area Brew Fest.


San Mateo County Event Center

1346 Saratoga Drive San Mateo, CA 94403

Open to the Public 2pm-5pm
VIP Special Entry 1pm-2pm

Free Admission for All Ages – Must be 21 and over to get wristband

$20 – Cup and Pour Package. Includes commemorative cup and 5 pour tickets.

$50 – VIP Package. Includes commemorative cup, 15 pour tickets, access to VIP Area and limited XL t-shirt.

Additional tickets can be bought in 5 ticket increments for $10

Buy Tickets Here

Parking is $10/vehicle, but guests can leave their vehicle overnight if needed.

Caltrain is an easy walk that can be done if unable to drive.

Taxi service will also be available by Luxor Taxi Service: 650-344-1414

For more information about the 2014 Bay Area Brew Fest, go to

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