This weekend I had the pleasure of attending the Raleigh Rare and Vintage Beer Tasting, hosted by Tyler’s Restaurant and Taproom in Seaboard Station. The experience was amazing, mainly because there were a variety of delicious beers flowing and I was able to spend time with great friends. The event also raised over twelve thousand dollars for the charity Pints for Prostates, which is incredibly impressive. Although this beer festival was a bit different than your standard ones, it was a reminder of how great of a time they can be for everyone.

Your typical beer festival offers over a hundred beers on tap from various breweries. The people who put them on do a great job of mixing in local and non-local brews. The styles vary from your lightest beers, like a pilsner or a kolsch, to the hoppy varieties, such as pale ales and IPAs, all the way to your darkest offerings, like stouts and porters. The variety of styles provide anyone the perfect opportunity to dive in to the craft beer scene at a moderate price, around 40 dollars. With the diversity being so wide you may even find a new style that you’ve never heard of or sample a beer that has a unique twist on a classic style, like a coffee stout. Also, with each station only pouring you about 2 oz of beer at a time, you will have the opportunity to try exponentially more beer in a day than you would on your typical night out.

Beer festivals are also a great activity to attend with friends. Having a group of people to go with will offer you some advantages. First, you can stick with your group and determine which beers you like best from each station. The ability to have some discourse about each beer will provide you with the opportunity to determine what you really like. You can also go with the divide and conquer method. This weekend I showed up with a group of seven, but split from them once the doors opened to find the breweries I was looking for. We would often run back into each other though and swap advice on which stations we should go next. Either way you want to tackle your beer festival will work, but the most important part is enjoying good beer with good people.

As you can imagine, beer festivals are an incredible way to spend the afternoon expanding your palette and enjoying the company of friends. One important thing to note though is that you should always plan ahead when attending these festivals. They are typically around four hours long, which will offer you plenty of time to sample the beers. I would high suggest lining up a ride before you attend. Some beer festivals offer designated driver tickets so people who are not going to be imbibing can still attend.

The next beer festival in the area is the World Beer Festival, which is run by All About Beer Magazine. The event will be held at Moore’s Square in downtown Raleigh on Saturday, April 13. There are two sessions you can attend, an afternoon session from 12-4 or an evening session from 6-10. It is my experience that the afternoon sessions are more enjoyable. The evening sessions tend to get a little more rambunctious, but that may be what you are in to. If Raleigh is too far of a drive for you you can always wait until the fall, when All About Beer Magazine hosts another World Beer Festival in Durham.

You can follow Dan on Twitter @dklem87

image by ficknoster via flickr