Harder to spot than it used to be thanks to the resurgence in facial hair, the beard is the elder of the real ale world. They were into this scene before the term “craft beer” had ever been uttered and they’ll still be around should the hipsters move on to a new scene.
How to spot: Apart from the obvious beard itself, they often wear large hats and waterproof coats that would blend in well at a game fair or horse race. They may also have brought their dog and possibly their own glass/tankard.
Most likely to say: is this CAMRA approved?
These lads (or bros as Americans might describe them) are only here for one thing, to get drunk. To be fair there’s an honesty to them that you can’t help but admire. They only drink pints as “halfs are for girls!” And inevitably they underestimate how strong many of the beers are and end up much more drunk than even they’d imagined.
How to spot: Travel in a pack, usually minimum of 6 lads. Often sporting chinos and rugby tops or maybe a dress shirt if they are out in town on “the sesh” afterwards.
Most likely to say: chug chug chug chug!
The Beer Hater
Many people attend these festivals with their partners, maybe they weren’t allowed out on their own or maybe they were convinced it would be a fun couples activity, which if both people like beer then it really is. However quite often people attend these events when not only are they not big beer fans but sometimes they can’t stand the stuff. If it’s a big, well organised festival then there will be plenty of other things for them to entertain them, music, food, maybe even ciders or a spirit tent. But if it’s a small festival, like one of the ones you get in a town hall then they may struggle to have a good time.
How to spot: Often overdressed for the occasion, they’ll have a distant look in their eye. They’ll try and steer the conversation away from beer which the others in the group are talking about until they can convince their partners to go.
Most likely to say: What kind of place doesn’t have any wine?!
A lot like the beard but probably less interesting. The nerd is obsessed with details. They know the exact brewing technique used in each ale or the variety of hops used and they’ll tell anyone who’ll listen to them. If you’re really into your beer you can actually learn a lot from these guys but if you’re just looking to enjoy a good beer in a pleasant atmosphere then they can be a little grinding.
How to spot: They’ll often have a near full glass as they were too busy talking to drink it. They’ll either be talking to someone who looks like they want to run and hide or they’ll have found a fellow nerd and are doing what they love most, arguing about details.
Most likely to say: Actually, I think you’ll find…
The hophead is a relatively new group to the beer world, they crave hops and only the hoppiest (is that a word) beer will suffice. They’ll stick to the IPAs and anything with hops in the name all day. Theirs is a never ending quest to find a beer so bitterly hoppy that they can’t even drink it.
How to spot: Generally among the younger end of the crowd, usually dressed trendily even if you’re not sure what trend it is. The contents of their glass will rarely be dark.
Most likely to say: This is so hoppy, like definitely the hopiest hoppy beer I’ve had this week.
Pretty self explanatory this one. They spend more time taking pictures, selecting the right filter or adding the right hashtags.
How to spot: They’ll probably be dressed unremarkably but they’ll be easy to spot by the massive camera around their neck and smartphone in hand.
Most likely to say: I should have posted during peak hours!
This festival goer is all about the food. They appreciate the beer too but it’s more about how it compliments the food. And if it’s a well organised festival then they will be in heaven, with hog roasts and pies and giant pretzels for snacking.
How to spot: You’ll find the foodies in the food area (duh) talking to the people running the stalls. They’ll have at least one hand full of food, which they may be taking pictures of.
Most likely to say: It’s all about beer pairing, that’s the future.
The guy who’s only there for the band
You can get a very diverse range of music at a beer fest. Sometimes bands who you’d rarely see anywhere else. Nearby you’ll find this guy, he’s waiting for the seven piece bluegrass band he saw at a festival in Belgium last year.
How to spot: He’ll be in the tent where the bands play and he’ll rarely leave. Likely be wearing a teeshirt with the name of a band you’ve never heard of.
Most likely to say: You just have to hear these guys, they are so tight.
If you don’t know what a beer ticker is, it’s someone who’s mission it is in life to sample as many beers as humanly possible. This can become an obsession, with family holidays revolving around regional beers and back again for the seasonal brews.
How to spot: The easiest way to spot the beer ticker is by the size of their glass, why drink a few pints when you can drink a mouthful of every beer there.
Most likely to say: That’s a great beer… but I’ve had it before so I’ll pass
The tourist and family are having a short break in the country and have quickly realised there’s not a lot to do. So in an effort to find something to pass the day they’ve stumbled upon this beer festival. They may not even like beer but it’s this or the model railway museum again!
How to spot: Probably one of the few family groups at the festival, they’ll usually be seen chasing after kids who’ve quickly got bored.
Most likely to say: Next year we’re going to Spain
The Designated Driver
What can we say about these absolute heroes. With many beer festivals taking place in rural areas or at a brewery outside of town, these guys are essential. There are many possible reasons why they’re driving today, maybe they lost a bet, maybe they made a mess of themselves at the same festival last year and this was the conditions of them being allowed back, maybe they’re just awesome, who knows. Whatever the reason, if you have a designated driver, look after them well, pay their fuel, buy their lunch etc.
How to spot: Look for a group of five or less, see one of them without a beer and with a slightly sad look on their face? That’s the DD.
Most likely to say: How many tokens is it for a coffee?