There's that age-old adage about moderation: the whole “marathon, not a sprint” thing. While most clichés induce eye-rolling dismissal, it will behoove you to hold this one to heart as you navigate the id-filled excesses populating the Outside Lands Festival in Golden Gate Park this weekend. Beginning Friday afternoon, attendees have access to more craft beer, cocktails, and boutique wine than ever before. It's enough to make grown adults as giddy as a Christmas-morning child. But remember, there's only so much time in the day, and only so many port-a-potties on site. Fill your bladder with the beverages worth peeing for, people. Here's a helpful way to sip, rather than chug, your way thru San Francisco's largest annual playground.
We begin our journey at Beer Lands, becuse it's still a little early in the day to hit the hard stuff. Located at the rear of the Polo Field, opposite end of the Land's End main stage, this is a collection of craft beer unrivaled at any musical festival, anywhere. San Francisco's own maestro of micro-brewing, Dave McLean of Magnolia and Smokestack, returns to curate the California-centric affair. Because his beers are flavorful, yet sessionable, they're well-suited to extended day-drinking. But don't cheat yourself on the higher ABV expressions from local standouts like High Water, Almanac, and Triple Voodoo. Alternatively, just have a look around; experiment with lesser-known producers. With 32 award-winning breweries and cideries represented from up and down the state, it's hard to go wrong.
As evening approaches, you may fancy some fermented fruit in your glass. Beeline straight to Wine Lands, adjacent to the Presidio Stage, near John F. Kennedy Drive. This is your one-stop tent for bubbly, Chardonnay, Pinot, Cab, Merlot, whatever. Want to taste something close to home, like SoMa's Bluxome Street Winery? Stick with a Napa heavyweight, like Chateau Montelena? Venture into the wilderness of Sebastapol, perhaps, with vaunted vintners such as Wind Gap and Claypool Cellars? Yes, yes, and yes? There's enough of a range to satisfy the novice and the snob, alike. Just be forewarned that Wine Lands is now a cashless affair. In order to taste here, you must load cash electronically onto your RFID-enabled wristband. It's a next-generation technology which will prove to be super cool or a big pain in the ass, depending on the signal level of your cell phone at the time. Play it safe by loading up from your computer before heading out to the hollow.
When it's cocktail hour(s), OSL has partnered up with the following liquors for your mixological delight: Tito’s 'Handmade' Vodka, Hendrick’s Gin, Larceny Bourbon, Tequila Don Julio, and Peligroso Tequila. For the cocktail connoisseur, the tipples are best tasted at GastroMagic, conveniently located in the geographic center of the festival. The gourmet hotspot features its own stage with live demos, surrounded by four, themed bars. Talk Like A Pirate Bar, Uh Oh It's Magic Bar, Let's Get Fizz-ical Bar, and the Mission Agave Bar will each provide their own self-explanatory flair. Mixing it up are local bartenders from 15 Romolo, The Boxing Room, Nopa, and members of Bon Vivants [Trick Dog].
Sleep it all off, and ready yourself to repeat. You got two more days to go, champ.