Festival 'analysis paralysis'

A recent article over at Beer Birra Bier about beer festival strategy got me thinking. I know some beery bods who do treat festivals as if they were a military operation; notepad, pen/pencil, PDA/smartphone, water bottle, festival glass, spare glass, spare pen/pencil, bubble wrap for bottle purchases. A beer list cross-referenced to ratebeer/beer advocate/their own tick list. With coloured highlights to show rare/strong/foreign beers. With an annotated arena map to identify the optimal seating area; equidistant from the key bars, close enough but not too close to the loos, away from the band/the t-shirt stall/the grumpy old soaks who moan about the demise of British bitter.

Yes, I know these denizens of planning. I used to be one of them.

Why did I change? After all, I'm a natural born planner. Analysis may as well be my professional middle name. Perhaps it's because of those times when I was waiting at a bar to be served, listening to the protestations of other scoopers, watching them succumb to analysis paralysis. Too many beers on their list. Unable to make a decision on which to buy. A purchasing system thrown out by a beer not being ready/running out/never arriving.

I've seen scoopers spend a miserable half-hour trying to commit to buying a beer as their first, second and third choice beers fail to materialise. Seen them squabble over the last halfpint, plead to try green beer or the dregs of a titled cask.

I've set myself free from the tyranny of beer festival planning to the minutiae. Yes, I still have a broad-brush plan for GBBF. It goes like this;

- start with some kind of draught gueze/kriek
- chew the fat with whoever serves me and see what they think of the foreign beers on offer
- buy a US beer by a brewer that I've never heard of before
- ask around the tables to see what's going down well
- go with the flow. And don't forget to buy sausage and mash

Free your mind and the hops will follow. I hope...


  1. That's pretty much my approach, but I will be arriving with a hit list.

  2. Good stuff. Some of the best festivals you go to are the ones where you're not that bothered by the beer list and you just end up moving from one thing to another as the mood takes you.

    My post was supposed to be a lighthearted dig at the OTT nature of some people, whilst also revealing some truths about the way I approach the bigger festivals.

    Your post is a great foil for mine. Somewhere in the middle lies festival Nirvana. :P

  3. I may well be serving on the Belgian bar on Tues - not sure how many I'll have had by then to venture an opinion should I serve you.

    You can't miss me - I've got a beard...