17 tips and tricks for surviving the San Juan Brewfest

by Anya Jaremko-Greenwold

Here are all the ways to do the brewfest right, with some help from Steamworks’ Sean Moriarty:

1. Talk to the brewersYou’ll have access to the guys or gals who actually designed the beer you’re drinking. So if you like something, ask more about it! This is their livelihood, and learning more about the product will only make you a better-rounded drinker.

2. Limit your beer intake Slow your roll and don’t overdo it or you’ll be embarrassed/dehydrated/hungover the next day. Drink equal parts water and beer, and bring a water bottle with you. There will also be a free water station at the event.

3. Eat a big breakfastLoad up on carbs and proteins, and hit up the food vendors once you’ve been at the fest a few hours. Food is the ideal buffer between you and the alcohol coursing nimbly through your bloodstream. Eating slows down your body’s brew absorption.

4. Start off with lighter-flavored beers Says Sean Moriarty: “Once you’ve overwhelmed your palate with so many big IPAs and stouts, the lighter stuff you could’ve enjoyed earlier in the day is probably not going to taste like much at all.”

5. Try not to spend time drinking beers you’ve had beforeThis is your opportunity to blaze new territory. We love our local breweries, but there are so many out-of-towners in attendance! Try beer you can’t easily sample next time you’re out for the night.

6. Make sure you have a designated driver or safe way of getting home Durango has Uber now, but keep in mind there aren’t an endless supply of drivers and you might have to wait awhile, especially on a weekend. The Main Avenue Trolley will also run the length of Main Avenue from the Iron Horse Inn to the Transit Center Downtown with multiple stops, free on the day of Brewfest. (Trolley runs from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. every 20 minutes). The following cab companies are also providing rides to/from the event: Buckhorn Limousine (769-0933), Durango Cab (259-4818), Animas Transportation (259-1315)

7. Don’t just go hunting for the highest alcohol beers Says Moriarty: “Session beers are so popular these days and they’re so delicious, you can actually enjoy those without having a bad time by the end of the festival. You don’t have to go and only look for the big IPAs or imperial stouts.”

8. Wear your T-shirt from a previous year’s beer festivalPeople think you’re super cool. Or just any beer-themed shirt (the more esoteric, the better), to show your commitment to the craft.

9. Bring cash Always useful for festivals.

10. Do not drink any pre-fest booze One pint is equal to three or four delicious festival samples. Save room.

11. Bring either a pencil and notepad or a fully-charged phoneYou might want to write down the beers you really love. Don’t assume you’ll remember them later. You might hopefully leave with a few new favorites.

12. Wear dark colors You will probably get tipsy and spill beer or foodstuffs down yourself at some point, but dark clothes will hide those humiliating stains.

13. Be prepared for weatherWe’re in monsoon season, so wear shoes that are good for slipping on wet grass, bring an umbrella or a waterproof jacket, and wear waterproof mascara. And if it’s sunny – put on sunscreen.

14. Prepare for porta-pottiesYou’ll probably be peeing a lot, so bring some pocket hand sanitizer or tissues. Who knows what the porta-potty situation will be like (sometimes they run out of TP)? There are no true public restrooms around, but if you need a “break” from the beer fest, there’s some delicious sandwiches at nearby Jimmy John’s and great pick-me-up coffee right down 12th at Durango Joe’s. 😉

15. Bring a cup-holderYou’ll want something to hold your serving glass if you go to the bathroom or if your hands get tied up. You only get one cup! Wear a purse, a man purse (murse), a fanny pack or pants with roomy pockets.

16. Get crafty and make your own pretzel necklace (a beer fest staple). You’ll just need string and some pretzels. It’s not a stylish accessory, but it is practical – the adult version of candy necklaces. Pretzels are the perfect complement to beer and the necklace is a built-in, hands-free reminder to eat as much as you drink throughout the day.

17. Stand in line strategically Says Sean: “For the breweries with a really strong following in Colorado, especially Crooked Stave (Denver) and Melvin’s (Alpine, Wyoming), you want to try and get to those as early as you can. By the middle of the fest, the lines get really long and they run out of beer. So find the ones you’re really a fan of, and go there first.”

Anya Jaremko-Greenwold


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