Raise your glass for the second annual International Beer Fest. More than 200 breweries will head to the I-X Center May 11 and 12 for a weekend of all things beer. With more than 800 beers available, we asked Brew Kettle owner Chris McKim for some tips on how not to wake up the next day with a hangover.
START SMALL: Be prepared. All the breweries will be bringing out the big guns. "If you go out there drinking the imperial, pale ales and barley wines [first], you're just not going to last very long."
PACE YOURSELF: Go with a lower alcohol beer first, like the Brew Kettle's Big Woody Lager, and work up to pale ales at 6 to 7.5 percent alcohol, like Willoughby Brewing Co.'s Moonshadow American IPA. "You're better off if you ramp it up in flavor, so start with the milder low-alcohol beers, then something a little sturdier in alcohol and flavor profile," says McKim.
TAKE IT ALL IN: Taste your beer in three ways: through your eyes, nose and mouth. "You want it to look pretty in the glass: nice clarity, nice color, nice foam, one-finger of head," he says. Try to discern some of the different flavors by smelling the different hops that give off aromas of spice, floral, fruit or pine. Then take a sip. "It's not a toss-it-back sort of thing," McKim says. "You want a half-ounce sip, taste it and let it sit in your mouth for a minute just to enjoy the complexity."