Brewfest – tips from behind the scenes

Last night (Friday) I volunteered at the Bend Brewfest. I had no idea what I would be doing – selling tokens, picking up litter, or what. I don’t have an OLCC servers license so I didn’t think I’d be pouring beer.

BUT – when I checked in, after signing a waiver (that I agreed not to serve anyone who was over-enjoying the evening) and listening to a 20 minute orientation  – that’s what I did.

So I guess now you could call me an amateur beer wench. I poured for Double Mountain (from Hood River). The two beers on tap this weekend are Hop Lava IPA and Kolsch. And I learned a lot about how to get the most bang out of your Brewfest buck. The festival’s still going on today… I’ll be down there enjoying some samples!

Brewfest Tips & Tricks

Arriving at the Brewfest…

  • The friendly security folks at the gate will give you a wristband, after they check your ID.
  • You need an official mug & tokens … cash only. This year’s mug has a green Brewfest logo on it, so you can’t cheat and use last year’s.
  • Servers don’t sell tokens or take cash.

Now that you’re ready to get a beer…

  • There are two “pour” sizes – a taste (1 token) and a full mug (4 tokens).
  • A “taste” is 4 oz (just above the little scallop). The mugs hold almost 14 oz so you will probably get a 12 oz pour. You do the math on which one’s a better deal.
  • Don’t ask for a 2 or 3 token pour. Pretty please.
  • Hand your mug and your token to the server. If you toss your token into the pail your server might not see it, and then you’ll have to pay another token.
  • If you are standing in front of the taps with more than a few sips of beer in your mug and people behind you are waiting, step aside so they can get their beer.
  • If you are the person stuck behind the person with a few sips left, make eye contact with the server and they’ll probably serve you.
  • If you put your brand new super cool brewery stickers on your mug? You’ll probably get short pours for the rest of the night if the servers can’t see the scallops.

Fun facts

  • The people wearing green shirts and pouring your beer are all volunteers.
  • No one taught the volunteers how to pour a beer, just how to tell if you are drunk or not.
  • Foam happens. Some beers are foamier than others. I don’t know why. Servers try to maximize your value when pouring a full mug but expect some foam.
  • MOST of the time the beer is poured from tap into a pitcher. This is because it’s really messy to pour ice cold beer into a warm plastic mug (SEE: foam). The pitchers are on ice to keep the beer from getting warm and nasty.
  • Drunk as a skunk = not OK to serve. No mo’ beer for you.
  • Stoned out of your gourd = totally OK to serve (unless you are also Drunk as a skunk).
  • If you do the chicken dance while your beer is being poured, the alcohol monitor might cut you off.
  • Those speakers behind us are loud. I can’t hear a thing you are saying about your homebrew setup, best buddies bachelorette party, etc.
  • The volunteers do not work for the breweries. I was lucky to be stationed somewhere that I was familiar with the beers on tap but that doesn’t always happen. There are “cheat sheets” on the tables.

Tip to keep in mind for 2012… All volunteers receive a mug and tokens so that they can enjoy the Brewfest after their shift. This year I saw the cattle call on Facebook… and I’ll definitely volunteer again next year. It was really fun to see people I knew, and watch everyone having a good time. Heck, 99% of the time I was having a blast too!