I wear a 7 1/2, just in case anyone needs to know. Two of my great passions are beer festivals and hats. Regular readers of this blog know that I love beer, but few know that I’m also a hat aficionado. The top shelf of my closet illustrates my love of nice headware. I’m not talking about ball caps and trucker hats, though I do have plenty of those, many of which are branded with logos from the various breweries I’ve visited over the years.
Nope, I am talking about real, stylish and useful hats: fedoras, homburgs, cowboy hats, panama hats, and so on. For example, the lovely America-made Scala Classico panama straw hat I’m wearing in the pictures above and below, which I got from Tenth Street Hats, an online retailer of really cool, good quality hats. Seriously, their online store is impressive, with dozens and dozens of hats for him and for her, fit for any occasion and appealing to any taste. A nice hat, I should mention, makes a great gift and we are now officially in the throes of the season of giving.
So what do hats and beer festivals have to do with each other? There are several reasons why a good hat is an essential part of my beer festival uniform.
First up, there’s the fashion. Nobody has ever accused me of being a dapper dresser and I generally opt for comfort over style, but a good hat is a comfortable and functional fashion statement. Beer fests are casual affairs and a hat provides some sense of style without looking out of place. Thing is, a good hat gets more attention than a bad hat. I should say, a good hat gets more attention than a poor quality hat. These days you see a lot of younger, image-conscious gentlemen wearing cheap fedoras, for instance, but when you see someone wearing a really nice one, you can tell that it’s a quality chapeau. Same thing with cowboy hats; the cheap ones look like junk compared to the real ones, like my 20X 100 percent palm cowboy hat in the photo below.
Next, there’s the personality that the hat lends to the wearer. When I attend a beer festival, I like to make an impression. Maybe it’s because I’m a beer writer and establishing relationships with breweries is part of my job, or maybe it’s just because I’m a ham and crave attention, but I think a hat makes me more memorable. “Oh ya, the guy in the hat.” I like to think I am a pretty memorable guy on my own, but the hat certainly helps. And if people are going to think of me as the hat guy, I don’t want them to associate me with cheap, crappy hats.
Finally, there’s the sun. My favorite beer festivals happen outside during the summer months on, hopefully, sunny days. Think of this as a Pubic Service Announcement. For you younger folks out there, it would behoove you to understand that years of exposure to the sun is not good for your skin, and everything above your shoulders gets the most prolonged exposure. Everyone knows about the effects of the sun, but when you end up paying dermatologists to freeze pre-cancers off your face, and perform biopsies on things they carve off of your face, the message really hits home. I don’t like slathering myself with sunscreen unless absolutely necessary, so I opt for a hat.
For the sake of disclosure, Tenth Street Hats gifted me the lovely, Ecuadorean straw panama hat from Scala Classsico that is pictured earlier in this post, but there was no quid pro quo. I did not guarantee to write about the hat or the company, but I’m suitably impressed with both. In fact, I’m about to order another hat from them. I’m going with the Knoxville, a crushable, water-repellent, wool felt hat with a nice wide brim (below). Seems like a good option for the season.
Stylish, memorable and useful. That’s what I love about hats. What do I love about beer? Don’t get me started. Once again, if anyone needs to know, I wear a 7 1/2.