Anyone who has been to Beer Advocate’s Extreme Beer Fest will tell you it’s nothing short of epic. Any fest boasting 70 breweries and at least 250 beers is amazing, but consider this; Extreme Beer Fest brewers get to attend by invite only. The result is a no holds barred, mind blowing, often once in a lifetime beer offering, and each year the beer list gets more amazing. With a price tag of about $60 per ticket, no one can argue that Extreme Beer Fest is an amazing event. It doesn’t matter if you’re a beginner to beer, or a seasoned veteran of the suds-you’re going to have an amazing experience! If you are considering the event or you’ve already bought your tickets, I hope these tips and tricks help make your weekend at the fest even better!
Seaport trade center pre-fest
PLAN PLAN PLAN!!
Extreme Beer Fest. Just the name alone should tell you that this isn’t an event you just show up to! No people, you gotta go with a plan of attack! Beer Advocate has already started to release the attending brewery list. The beer list will follow in the next few months, then the all important map will come out just before the event. These things are key to a successful run at EBF. Each session is three hours. There are at least 70 breweries, and no less than 250 beers (350 last year!). You will never have enough time or be able to stay sober long enough to try them all, so planning is necessary. Once the complete brewery/ beer list is out I recommend printing it and choosing your top 25 beers and breweries you want to try. Why have a list like this? Simple; lines. They are inevitable and sometimes having an extended wish list helps to miss some of the lines and still get beer you want to try. I usually try first for my top five, then my top twenty, then coast and enjoy the rest of the fest! There will also be a map of the festival available here. This is equally important as your must haves list because it shows you where to go and avoids wasting time. I have witnessed people sprinting across the entire length of the building at the start of the fest just to get to the line of one particular brewery. Knowing where the breweries on your list are can put you at the head of what could be a line taking 30 minutes plus to go through. You don’t want to lose that kind of time! In addition I recommend you get into the event entry line early! The entry line does move quickly and smoothly, but why be the last person in when you can be among the first?
In line on a mild February day.
I shouldn’t have to say this, but feel like I must. The great staff of EBF has ensured that there are plenty of very good food booths to get some very important nourishment from. You can also buy bottles of water ($1 per bottle) from the EBF booth, which is good because outside food and drink is not allowed. Yep that’s right.. no pretzel necklaces allowed. Don’t be like me- bring cash! After waiting in a line for food you really want, it sucks to find out they are cash only and you have pockets with nothing but lint in them. Bring a few bucks with you, it can’t hurt. If this IS your first serious beer fest, I highly recommend you start to hydrate at least 24 hours in advance! There’s huge benefits to being hydrated properly, but the biggest is you won’t have to pee every five minutes! I recommend drinking an unsweetened drink (water) that has added electrolytes. You take your pick of brand.
Sam is always willing to chat and take pictures.
DON’T BE A D-BAG!!
You’re at the fest with friends. Maybe you just made new friends! Don’t stand at a booth looking like you’re in line when you aren’t! People hate that! There is PLENTY of open space at the venue where you can talk and be out of everyone’s way. Want to chat up the brewery staff? COOL! As long as they aren’t slammed, I’m sure they’ll be happy to talk to you BUT move to the side, out of the way, and please understand if they just don’t have time. Courtesy goes a long way, and beer karma is real!
DON’T BE A DRUNKEN D-BAG!!
I’ve seen people escorted out. I don’t think they got tossed into Boston Harbor, but they sure didn’t come back into the event! And I’m sure if you’re drunk and being a jerk, the staff of EBF will not hesitate to hand you over to Boston’s finest! This brings me to…..
Pie to the face for barrel aged Bo&Luke
UBER IS YOUR FRIEND!!
UBER is great! I use it all the time, drunk, sober, and in between. There is always an UBER ride code that gives some kind of discount to EBF attendees, and you’d be crazy to try and drive Boston after this fest. Besides, nobody want’s to have a night in the Boston slammer as their EBF memory.
You never know who you’ll meet at EBF!
HOTEL, MOTEL, HOLIDAY INN….(say whaaaat!)
Boston is loaded with places to stay, whether you choose the traditional route of a hotel or go AirBNB, you will have choices but don’t wait till the last minute! Each session sells 2500 tickets. I’m no math wiz kid but a total sale of 7500 tickets means a whole lotta rooms will be taken! There are three hotels in Boston I have stayed at and will comfortably recommend;
The Seaport Hotel and World Trade Center. Very nice, right across the street from the event venue, very pricey.
Renaissance Boston Waterfront Hotel. Two blocks from the venue, very nice, less pricey- but not a lot less.
Hampton Inn Cambridge. A short UBER ride saves you a ton of money. The rooms may be smaller, and not as fancy as my previous recommendations, and there isn’t a pool, but you’ll get a good nights sleep here without breaking the bank. The Hampton Inn is also walking distance to World Of Beer, and a slightly longer walk to Faneuil Hall and all the shops, bars, and restaurants there.
THE FULL MONTY!!
I love talking about beer fests as being experience events. The whole point of events like this one isn’t to get plastered, it’s to try and enjoy beer you wouldn’t otherwise be able to. The Alstrom brothers did it right when they made this an by invite only event. In my opinion it’s made the breweries feel obliged… even challenged to come up with some amazing beer and show off just how big their brewing balls are, making the experience that you have at EBF an incredible one. Sounds pretty awesome, right? Well there’s more. The whole thing really starts Thursday night! There is always a pre EBF party, and you’ll be amazed at how many people go! Like I said, it’s about the experience, and people in the know make this a long weekend of fun. Every day local pubs and restaurants throw some kind of EBF party, so you won’t fall short of things to do. There’s even a post EBF brunch on sunday so all the die hards can feed those hangovers. Never mind the fact that when you’re at Extreme Beer Fest you’re in Boston! Going to make it a weekend? Here’s a few fun things to do:
Frost Ice Loft. Cool bar (haha) with great views and all around fun experience. Yes I know EBF is held in February.
Top of the Hub. Truly amazing views of boston! Have dinner or just go for drinks. If you’ve sold your significant other on a “Fun and romantic weekend in Boston” as a way to get to Extreme Beer Fest, dinner here will make everything OK.
The Algiers Coffee House. Right on the edge of Harvard University campus this very cool spot is a favorite of locals and students. Stop in for Arabic coffee and sweets, some house made mint tea, or have some food. You won’t be disappointed, and you might even run into me.