A festival of alcohol is not something that can be approached lightly.

Ahead of Belfast’s annual Beer & Cider Festival we’ve got a few tips to make sure you get the most out of the experience.

1. Eat something / stay hydrated

Those who live by the adage ‘Eatin’s cheatin” are usually in a heap by 7pm. Eat something before you arrive or grab something in there. Hot food will be available for purchase in the Ulster Hall and bottled water will be on sale at the bar. Or if you want to be both fashionable and practical you could always construct a Quaver necklace to wear to the event.

2. Dress for the occasion

Seating is limited so wear comfy shoes if you’re planning on propping up the bar.

3. Put your faith in the bar staff


Becca Hopkins is assistant bar manager and will also be playing the Beer and Cider Festival along with her band Decomposing In Paris

The bar staff can help you in your mission to push the boat out, but also ensure you don’t encounter choppy seas in your journey through light hoppy stouts and maltier golden ales. Beer tasting notes will be in the programme, but due to ​the ​ nature of the cider (every batch is slightly different) the tasting notes will be hung at the cider bar.

4. Pace yourself

Don’t feel like you have to have a full pint every round. Get half-pints and try more. Halves will be sold at exactly half price.

5. Plan ahead

Use your programme and app to plan each bar visit. All NI beer will be on one side of the bar, the rest are in alphabetical order, go to the side of the bar closest to your chosen beer for faster service

6. Take notes

Bring a pen and notebook (or tablet – but that can be risky with drink involved) to document what you have tried and your personal tasting notes.

7. Make space

Once you’ve been served, don’t congregate at the bar, make space for someone else to get a tipple, and hopefully they’ll do likewise for you when you try to get another pint.

8. Check out the CAMRA Membership stand

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The CAMRA stand is not hard to find

Membership is available from ​£24 ​a ​year and only £16.50 for those under 26 years old. ​The benefits are listed here https://join.camra.org.uk

9. Don’t be a tube

The festival is run by volunteers who love beer just as much as you and want you to have great time! When 1,000 people merge into the hall, it can be quite cosy… we’re all in it together so don’t annoy the bar staff or fellow drinkers.

10. Meet someone new

People travel from all over the UK and beyond to attend the festival. Making a beer buddy couldn’t be easier.

11. Hold on to your glass

It’s included as part of your entry and will be your vessel as long as you’re in the venue. There’s no facility to wash glass behind the bar, so make sure it’s fully drained before moving on to the next beer. Should you misplace or shamefully break it, you can buy a new one.

12. Cash in extra drink tokens

You can return them for a cash refund, or donate them to the festival charity.

13. Plan your way home

Will you be taxiing it home or taking public transport? If you’ve a designated driver make sure to keep them stocked up on soft drinks which will also be available in the hall.

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