This weekend is one of my favorite fall traditions: cider fest! Every October, my Fordham friends make the trip down to Philly and we attend Pour the Core, a hard cider festival at the Navy Yard. I rarely drink beer, but cider is one of my go-to drinks when I’m out. A festival is a fun way to hang out with your friends and sample some ciders that you may not always find on draft at your corner bar.
We didn’t know what we were getting ourselves at our first cider fest, but after five years we’ve learned few things. Attending an outdoor beer or cider festival? Here are some tips so you get the most out of it!
The first year we went to Pour the Core Philly, we were in awe of everyone’s pretzel necklaces and tried to figure out where to find them. Well, turns out you need to make them yourself! That’s right: bring your own pretzel necklace. They’re actually pretty affordable and easy to make, and trust me, you’ll want one. You may think you’ll look silly or you won’t get hungry or you don’t really like hard pretzels, but you’re wrong. If you’re paying money to sample lots of cider or beer, you’ll want something to nibble on and something to help you differentiate between samples.
On a related note, take advantage of the food samples you find and drink plenty of water. PTC also has a food truck lineup, so take a lunch break before hitting up your favorite booths for second rounds.
Chat with the experts
PTC has over 75 ciders to sample, so it can get overwhelming fast. Don’t be afraid to ask volunteers and vendors about the drinks they have available! Sure, some may be more knowledgable than others, but life is too short to sample things you know you won’t like. By now, I know I prefer most sweet ciders over dry ones, and I avoid anything that is described as hoppy — but that might totally be your thing, and that’s okay! Not every cider can be a winner for everyone. (I learned that the hard way with Woodchuck Fall and Woodchuck Pumpkin.)
Dress for the weather — sorta
Okay, this is one of my life tips because I don’t leave my apartment without checking the forecast! When it comes to PTC though, there are some extra considerations to make. You spend a good amount of time underneath tents waiting in line for your samples, which means if it’s hot out, you’ll be even warmer than you think trapped with people in the shade. And wear the crossbody bag.
Also, don’t assume the weather will feel like fall because October in the northeast is a mystery. I’ve worn everything from a tank and shorts, dress and sneakers to a sweater and vest. (I don’t really recommend rompers because of the porta potty situation.) This Saturday’s forecast calls for some morning rain, so that’s a whole new ballgame, which brings me to…
Wear appropriate footwear
Another life lesson, but still deserving of its own section. Cider fest is not the time to wear your really cute fall boots. Wear your sneakers, wear your combat boots, wear your rain boots. There will be sticky alcohol spilled on you at one point and there will be mud.
Don’t drink and drive
Just don’t. PTC gets bonus points for offering designated driver tickets (which include admission but no sampling) as well as a shuttle bus to public transportation. Also, if you follow up cider fest with a cheesesteak, I can pretty much guarantee you won’t end up hungover.
Pour the Core also host cider festivals in Baltimore, Boston, Brooklyn and Long Island. As my friends and I say, a cider a day keeps the doctor away, so drink up (responsibly)!