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Taste Like You've Been There Before 

Navigating Bend Brewfest

As the biggest beer event of the summer, Bend Brewfest should be a can't-miss for local beer fans and tourists. Unlike most beer events, Brewfest has multiple personalities—and just a little local knowledge combined with common sense should guarantee a fantastic—and productive—time at the event.

Probably most important is choosing the best time to attend. Running from noon to 11pm for three days, Brewfest provides 33 hours to choose from. Kids and dogs are not recommended, but are allowed until 7 pm each day. Really, though, there is nothing fun for kids or dogs to do; if possible, leave them at home or the hotel.

The best time to attend depends entirely on which of Brewfest's personalities you want to enjoy. The first consideration is whether you're there for the beer or for the party. Beer fans with Moleskines should attend early when the lines are shorter and the crowds are older (read: calm). How to know if this is you: Do you read the tap list before leaving home? Map out your tastings? If flavor exploration is the goal, there is no other good option. Don't expect tasting notes from the people staffing the taps. They are not allowed to taste the beer until after their shifts. But fortunately, there are many brewers on hand at the Brewtality tent who will happily talk about every detail of the beers they brew.

Once the sun sets the crowd swells and a new personality emerges: Party up front, beer tasting in the back. And, the party crowd is a fun one. Everyone seems friendly, singing along with almost every song the DJ plays. When the BeerFest wraps each night at 11, much of the crowd walks downtown to continue the party.

And a last piece of advice: Decide early the best times to attend for finding the personality you are looking for, and pace yourself. There are three days to get it done. Also, be sure to bring the Ultimate Brewfest Survival Kit: Sunscreen, beer t-shirt and hat, water bottle, sunglasses, at least $30 cash for beer and food, a must-taste list, and a way to get home without driving.

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