I don’t know about you but I’m pretty pumped for all things Fall (see photo below). Yes, I know the pumpkin spice latte thing is definitely overdone (although I have an easy non-sugary recipe for you tomorrow), but can we all agree Fall weather is the best?! That being said, going outside this time of year is so refreshing and what better way to celebrate than with attending some outside festivals, like brew fests?!
Go Out in Your Own Town
I’m not sure where you live, but in the Upstate NY/Vermont area, there seems to be some type of festival or brew fest every weekend this time of year. No matter where you are in the state, you will drive past many signs and flags, mounted on a colossal flagpole, advertising a festival event. I’m not complaining because it gives us something to do and lets us get out of the house and enjoy time with friends. We did just that this weekend.
We actually started the weekend off on Friday night at an event at the NYS Museum called “Drink Albany“. We went last year and since we are trying to get our Capital Craft Beverage Passports filled out, we decided to go again this year.
This event, while fun, was a bit overpriced and a little underwhelming this year. The best part was probably the carousel ride, which isn’t what you go there for (or maybe it is)! You get a small tasting glass and the opportunity to try beverages from across the Capital District. We already have been to many of the places and the new ones we tried were underwhelming and dump worthy.
On top of that, you have to pay for food once you get there, which sucks because you already paid a good penny for your ticket to get in. I probably won’t go back next year unless they significantly improve the event. The best part of the night was hanging with friends (and that carousel ride), so I’ll at least take that as a win.
To continue our festival weekend, my friends and I decided to take a day trip up to Stratton Vermont where they were having their annual Brew Fest on Stratton Mountain. We have been going for the past 5-6 years (we missed a year in there for a wedding) and have always had a blast. Each year we bring a few more friends with us.
Because we were going to be sitting at a festival all day eating and drinking our hearts out, my friends and I decided we needed to start the day off with some activity outside. I surround myself with people who love fitness as much as I do, so it didn’t take much convincing when JJ suggested we hike straight up the front of Stratton Mountain. Challenge accepted.
“Started from the bottom now we’re here”
From the bottom, it honestly doesn’t look that bad. Most hikes I’ve been on you can’t see the top from the bottom so this was quite deceiving. We climbed over 1,750 ft of vertical (I think it was about 1.5 miles) in just under an hour. We were a sweaty and muddy group that was so excited to get to the top as fast as possible. The best part was that we didn’t have to hike down the mountain because we just caught the gondola down and arrived at Brew Fest as it was getting started (right before noon!)
Stratton Brew Fest
This year’s brew fest was not as big as years past. Last year I remember being in the tent and having to fight my way through. This year, it wasn’t as crowded and there were fewer vendors. I think with more brew fests popping up, breweries have more options to showcase their beers and ciders at. Lame.
Even though there were fewer vendors, there were still some standouts. My favorites from this year’s Brew Fest were a 3-way tie between:
Aside from the brews at the Stratton Brew Fest, they always do a chili contest as well. We didn’t partake this year because last year they all tasted the same. A few years back, anyone could enter their chili and it was SO MUCH better but now I think there are some more regulations so they all have to be made in the Stratton kitchen, womp-womp.
Finally, they do some activities besides drinking. They have a keg toss (which all of our guy friends + one girl participated in), it’s quite entertaining. They also USED to have a stein holding contest (bring it back!!!) which we all totally sucked at, but it was fun nonetheless. We love to make fools of ourselves, especially if it involves showing off our fitness (or lack thereof). Highly recommend this Brew Fest if you are in the area next year!
A Guide to Brew Fests
Okay, so my friends and I are extra, I get that. However, I thought it might be helpful for you if I provided a guide of sorts to help you navigate a Fall Brew Fest. I saw a table next to us that was ill-prepared and I felt really bad for them. Let’s get our acts together and Brew Fest it up in the best way possible! Here’s how…
When to Arrive
Early. If you can get there early and have at least 1 member of your party grab a table or at least some real estate so that your whole crew can have a home base, this is clutch. We got there around 9:30 for a fest that started at noon. We went hiking while one of our friends (who hates hiking) stayed put, unpacked all the items, and reserved our table.
We were the first ones there but by the time we got down from hiking it was packed and there were no tables to be had. Get there early and make a day of it, just make sure you dress and pack food accordingly (see below).
What to Wear
Layers. I can’t tell you how many girls I saw in skirts/dresses and I wanted to give them one of our blankets. This is not your time to dress up, this is your time to look as basic as possible and have layers for when the sun decides it wants to come out and then dip back behind the clouds. I recommend jeans, boots, sweaters, scarves, jackets, and blankets. You may even need hats/gloves depending on the forecast.
The weather is variable this time of year, but you don’t want to be the one having to go inside alone to warm up! Be prepared and have more clothes than you need so you can optimize your time outside.
What to Bring
Food. Duh. In the past, JJ’s mom would always bring ALL the food/snack/charcuterie, but this year she had to skip out. My friend Nicole and I decided to step in and make it happen this year. There’s never enough food at a brew fest (and you normally have to pay) so I highly recommend you bring your own. I saw a girl cuddled up with a bag of chips (one that was being shared with 5 other people) and I felt sad for her, do better next year ma’am!
Here’s what we had on our menu:
- Tea Sandwiches w/
- Fig jam, prosciutto, goat cheese, & arugula
- Smoked Salmon & cream cheese (we never ended up making this one)
- Egg Salad (we ate this for dinner instead)
- Seven Layer Dip with Chips
- Cheese & meat board with crackers
- Rice Krispie Treats
- Pumpkin seeds & mixed nuts
- Trader Joe Snack Assortment
- Veggies & Hummus
- Pumpkin Chips
- Bamba (aka Peanut Puffs)
- Chocolate covered everything (including espresso beans, power berries, orange slices, peanut butter cups)
Water. Or at least water bottles. We obviously were thirsty after the hike but we made sure to drink water all day. My rule of thumb is if I’m going to be drinking alcohol to have a drink of water in between each glass minimally. My friends and I have each other’s backs so we encourage water drinking as well as other drinking.
Other. While food is the most important, some other items that are helpful to bring along:
- Cutting boards & knives
- Paper towels & wipes
- Trash bag
- Tupperware/bags for leftovers
- Tablecloth (we forgot this)
- Extra glasses/cups
Phew! It may sound like a lot, but it makes for a much more enjoyable day, I promise.
I hope this guide helps you to be prepared for a brew fest or at least see how prepared my friends and I are for such an activity. Obviously, you can have fun without all the above but wouldn’t it be more fun if you could relax and spend time at the brew fest instead of worrying where you needed to go next to find food, get warm, etc.!?
Do you guys go to any outdoor Brew Fests this time of year?! If so, what’s your favorite one?!
Pin Now, Brew Fest Later