GABF volunteer coordinator Carol Hiller on over-pouring, comfortable shoes and Guinness
Jason E. Kaplan/Brewers Association
This is the first in a series of Q&As with beer-minded folks who have jobs to do during the Great American Beer Festival.
Volunteers at the Great American Beer Festival are sometimes maligned, usually busy and always -- always -- needed. After all, there are going to be 2,700 different beers at this year's three-day fest, which runs October 11-13, and each one needs a pitcher and someone to pour it. Carol Hiller, the GABF volunteer team manager, is in charge of the Brewers Association's 2,800 T-shirted festival volunteers, and she shared a few thoughts with us about what it's like to be on the inside of the greatest festival on earth.
Westword: What are three pieces of key advice you give your volunteers?
Carol Hiller: 1) Be helpful and offer information to all guests. The focus of the GABF is one of education. You are representing the brewers and the Brewers Association when you wear the GABF shirt. 2) One ounce in any glass at any time. 3) Prepare for the GABF and take care of yourself: Wat before you arrive, arm yourself with information, wear comfortable shoes, learn from your team captains and the on-site brewers.
How often do volunteers move from table to table, and are they allowed to try the beers themselves? Can they drink a little?
In an effort to better educate the public, volunteers are now assigned to one brewery for their entire shift. They are then educated by the brewer to represent that brewery and pour their beer. Volunteers may sample the beers they are pouring to be able to speak intelligently about them.
What advice would you give the average GABF-goer about how to enjoy the festival?
Educate yourself about the event before attending. With so many fantastic beers to sample, come with a plan.
Is there a secret to getting a volunteer to pour you more than an ounce?
If a guest has sampled one ounce and requests another, the volunteer may pour a second ounce. After that, the patron is asked to sample other beers.
What beer or brewer are you most looking forward to trying at GABF?
I do not participate in beer sampling while working at the event, but I look forward to learning about new beers and new breweries every year.
What is the weirdest thing someone has said or done in the past while you were pouring?
I have had a few guests ask me where they can find the Guinness booth!
Are your arms sore the next day?
You bet. So is my voice!
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