Browsing articles in "beer festivals"
Apr 19, 2014
Freddie Kitson

Brewvana: the early days (two years ago…)



Merry Prankster Ken Kesey was hard-nosed about it: You were either on
the bus or off the bus. Ashley Rose Salvitti offers some wiggle room
for beer tourists on the Brewvana
bus: “OK, everybody,” she says over the reggae soundtrack as she’s
about to wheel the bus away to another pub, “raise your hand if you
aren’t here.”

Which is to say, sure, you could save a few bucks and not hop aboard
Angel, the Brewvana bus. You could organize your own brewery tour. But
it wouldn’t be the same.

For one thing, you wouldn’t have the company of Brewvana owner
Salvitti, a young woman who combines effervescence with clipboard-toting
efficiency, who makes the bus run on time and who can effortlessly
wrangle a load of boisterous beer tourists. Nor could you enjoy the
comforts of Angel, with its city/skyscape interior mural, its onboard
refrigerator, handmade pretzel necklaces for all and a cup holder at
each seat for your Brewvana souvenir pilsner glass.

You wouldn’t be able to pull up to a closed pub such as Pints
on a Sunday morning and be met by brewer Zack Beckwith for a tour of
his new brewery followed by tastes of his beers. Nor would Fire on the Mountain
brewer Ben Nehrling likely join you for a lunch of pizza and hot wings
and narrate the procession of pitchers being delivered to the table
while talking about his career in the Oregon beer scene.

“We’re really connected with the brewers and pubs,” says Salvitti.
“We want them to be pumped when the Brewvana bus pulls up.” From what I
saw on a recent tour, Salvitti has handily achieved her goal. “She’s
great to work with,” said Ben Love, who opened the then-unfinished Gigantic Brewing
for the tour. “She does such a great job planning her tours and she’s
so easy to work with — she makes it clear what she expects and what we
can expect from her. Plus I love her enthusiasm. She’s great.”


Brewvana is a relative newcomer: Salvitti held her first tour just a
year ago, but she and Nikki Muir, her other tour guide/driver and only
employee, have found a niche as evangelists of Portland beer culture.
“We love providing the complete experience,” Salvitti says. “Hop on the
bus and don’t worry about anything. We’ll make sure that lunch is
ordered and ready when we arrive at the lunch stop. We’ll make sure that
beers are ready to sample.”

Left to their own devices, beer tourists can find Portland a daunting
city. With four dozen breweries and brewpubs, we have an embarrassment
of riches. Where to start? A string of five-star reviews on sites such
as TripAdvisor suggest that booking a Brewvana tour is the best move:
“Ever been in a town and not known anybody?” writes one customer from
Los Gatos, Calif. “Brewvana solves that problem and introduces you to
unique microbreweries in the process. Ashley gives the new-to-Portland
person the opportunity to meet fellow beer lovers and connect with the
premier microbreweries of Portland in the process. Pass this one up and
you will be a beer novice forever.”

Salvitti is relatively new to Portland herself. She moved here in
April 2007 from Greensboro, N.C., where she earned a degree in art with a
minor in psychology — she wanted to become an art therapist, and still
may. Soon after arriving in town, she hired on as a server at Laurelwood
for a year, then went to Hopworks when it opened in 2008, and still works there.

Her beer background and her hard-wired enthusiasm equip her well as a
tour guide. “We love converting those people who think they don’t like
beer,” she says. “Really, they just haven’t found a beer they like and
it’s exciting to introduce to them to different styles, like the sour
and barrel-aged beers at Cascade Barrel House — those are beers that even wine drinkers love.”

Salvitti reckons that her weekend “Behind the Scenes” and “Imbibing”
tours are about 75 percent out-of-towners, but she offers plenty for
local beer fans, too. There are overnight excursions to beer festivals,
brewery parties, tours of beer scenes in Corvallis, Eugene or Astoria,
and monthly Connoisseur Tours led by a different professional brewer
each time.

A home brewer from the Oregon Brew Crew
led a recent tour designed for people who want to brew their own beer.
If you love craft-distilled whiskey, there’s a whiskey-and-beer tour,
too. You can even opt for the Build Your Own Tour and create your dream
excursion by deciding where you want to go and what you’d like to do at
each location, Salvitti says.

Whatever the tour, trust that it’ll be conducted with that trademark
Salvitti enthusiasm, which, along with a cooler of beer, was enough to
keep the party going when Angel broke down on a recent trip to the

“A good friend of mine didn’t like me at first because she thought I
was a fake,” she says. “She thought nobody could be that positive all
the time. But that’s just the way I am, especially now, because I love
what I’m doing — interacting with people and helping them discover good


A Tour for Every Type

The Brewvana bus  is just one of several brewery tours offered in Portland. Options range from the venerable Portland Brew Bus, which first rolled in 1996, to the historically minded Bridges Brews tours from Portland Tours. There’s also the Portland Microbrewery Tour from Eco Tours of Oregon and more.

If you want to really learn about brewing as you sample beer, book a Pubs of Portland Tour
with home brewer and brewery consultant Marc Martin, who’ll take you to
pubs via MAX trains and streetcars, and who brings along samples of
hops and barley.

And if you want to stay active on your tour, grab a bike helmet and take a seat aboard the 16-person, pedal powered Portland Pedalounge, or join the Pedal Bike Tours Brewery Trail peloton. If you want to leave wheels of all kinds behind, check out the Portland Walking Tours Beervana Tour.


– John Foyston

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Apr 18, 2014
Freddie Kitson

Beer Edition: Untappd connects aficionados, newbies alike with brews

Steven Mullett used to keep drink lists from bars and scratch off which brews he had tried — but now, there’s an app for that.

Untappd, a free smartphone application currently available on iOS, Android, Blackberry and Windows Phone devices, allows users to explore and share different beers with their social circles. Users can mark off which beers they have tried, rate them and receive recommendations based on their taste. More than 1 million people have downloaded the app.

Mullett, a senior lab manager for Bill Yates’ lab in Pitt’s Department of Cell Biology, is an avid homebrewer and has been using the app for almost a year. He said he uses the app to keep track of his beer legacy.

“It’s really easy to use, and it’s really easy to find beers. If it’s not, if it’s a microbrew, it’s very easy to add it to the database and then review it immediately afterwards,” he said.

According to Mullett, the app is especially useful for casual or intermediate drinkers. Despite his experience with microbrewing, he said the app is valuable for him, too.

Greg Avola and Tim Mather launched Untappd in October 2010. The pair has been working together remotely on the project from opposite coasts while maintaining full-time jobs.

Avola, who works for ABC News’ Technology Team, said the idea behind the app stemmed from adding context to the concept of Foursquare, an app that allows users to check in at different locations to let their friends know where they are.

Avola and Mather wanted to focus on a social industry, and the first thing that came to mind was beer. With Untappd, users can not only check in at different bars and breweries, but also keep track of what they drank there.

“Beer is one of the first things we thought of because there really is no Twitter or Facebook for beer,” Avola said.

Vincent Agresti, a senior information science major, has been using the app since 2011.

His reasoning for using the app echoed Avola and Mather’s reason for creating it — he can’t use Foursquare, Facebook or Twitter to find out about beer.

“It’s something that focuses on beer enthusiasts, which is something that other social networks don’t really do,” Agresti said.

According to Agresti, he uses the beer rating and recommendation features of the app most frequently.

“Untappd is a good way for me to track what beers I’ve drank, and it’s also a really good tool for me to find out new beers I might like,” he said.

Avola said the two-man team began building a prototype in July 2010 that only allowed users to search for a beer and add a location, but the app has evolved and added new features since then.

For instance, users can now earn badges for completing different tasks. If a user logs three light beers, they are rewarded with a “Lite Weight” badge.

The app operates with Wikipedia-style editing. Any user can add a beer, but a group of moderators and breweries go through and check the listings for accuracy.

According to Avola, breweries and venues can also create accounts to connect with customers, view analytics on how their brewery is perceived and upload labels to accompany their beers.

“The crux of what we’re trying to do is to connect consumers with beer,” he said.

Breweries and venues can also sponsor badges, run specials on the app or advertise events such as beer festivals.

Avola said the duo hopes to improve the locality of recommendations in the future, because beers are distributed in different parts of the country.

“We’re really focused on honing our data to get local recommendations. We think people will definitely flock to that new feature,” he said.

According to Matt McMahon, founder of Eleventh Hour Brewing, an upcoming Pittsburgh brewery still in its start-up phase, said in an email that he uses Untappd to gather feedback about his company’s beers.

McMahon said Untappd allows him to receive responses on Eleventh Hour’s beers, and he has the ability to view users’ profiles to see how seriously their ratings should be considered.

“I look at other beers they have checked in to identify what styles they like. If that person is an IPA fan and they don’t like our IPA then maybe there is something I need to look at,” he said. “On the other hand, if that person consistently checks in other IPAs that I consider to be great beers, and gives them one to two stars, then that person probably just doesn’t like the IPA style and their feedback illustrates that.”

McMahon said the app is also a useful tool in gauging his performance.

“I feel like Untappd is a great resource for brewers, old and new, to get feedback on their beers,” he said. “While you will always have outliers on the high and low end of the scale, the general consensus is what you want to take away from that data.”

Avola said that there are thousands of beers that consumers might not know about.

“Our goal is to help educate the community about what beer is out there,” he said.

Microbrews have been trending over the last five years, Mullet said, and craft and sour beers are becoming more popular.

“People are starting to open their eyes to the fact that you can make beer taste like anything you want,” he said.

Avola said people want more independence in what they’re drinking.

“They want something different, something more unique and fresh,” he said.

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Apr 18, 2014
Freddie Kitson

Boston native leads craft beer movement in Las Vegas – Las Vegas Review

The craft beer movement is picking up in Las Vegas and among those leading the charge is beer lover Mark Lawson.

The Boston native who grew up in Alaska went to his first beer festival when he was 21 and has been hooked ever since, tending bar for 10 years before working the past 13 years at Nevada Beverage.

He has a cool beer job: Lawson manages the wholesale distributor’s craft beer team. It’s the only such dedicated wholesale team of craft beer specialists in the Las Vegas Valley.

The 44-year-old is the pied piper behind the growing number of craft beers showing up on shelves at local supermarkets and on taps behind the bars of restaurants and taverns.

“I started on the distributing side of the business in 2001 and I worked for the company who at that time carried Sam Adams, which was the only craft beer readily available and we couldn’t give it away. Every account would tell me, ‘We don’t carry that s—.’ I really convinced myself then that these people just didn’t know what they were missing and I have spent the past 13 years trying to show them how great craft beer can be,” Lawson said.

Lawson said he doesn’t go into a long-winded spiel to coax stores and bars to sell craft beers. He simply points out that their competitors are selling the craft beer items and the higher price points will deliver more revenue to their businesses.

“Some accounts may be ready to carry craft beer and just don’t know it yet,” he said.

This month, downtown Las Vegas will be the epicenter for the local craft beer movement when the Great Vegas Festival of Beer is staged on East Fremont Street on April 26. The Review-Journal caught up with Lawson to discuss the local craft beer industry.

Question: Why are you so passionate about distributing craft beers in the Las Vegas Valley?

Answer: I grew up in Alaska and I took two things away from it that I apply everyday. First, Seattle had a big influence on beer styles available there. I had been going to beer festivals since I was 21 and when I moved here to Las Vegas in 1996 there were no craft beers really to speak of. I couldn’t understand why … The second reason is that in Alaska they live by the motto “Buy Alaskan.” It’s a powerful message when you say, “I am going to support the people in my community,” and that’s why I am really passionate about supporting local breweries like Joseph James, Tenaya Creek.

Question: If you were a craft beer, what type would you be and why?

Answer: Definitely a stout. I am very passionate person and from the outside people think that I am not that approachable or that I may be too intense. Just imagine seeing an imperial stout poured into a glass when you drink domestics. But for the people that actually get to know me and appreciate the passion that I have for the things I do, they love me.

Question: How do you convince a store or bar to sell a craft beer?

Answer: We I don’t really “convince” an account to sell craft beer … I just simply point out what the market is doing, locally and nationally, what their competitors are doing and the profit they can make on selling a higher priced item. I then let them know that we have a dedicated craft team here at Nevada Beverage and we are looking for partners in our goal to educate the consumer on craft beers. It becomes a win-win situation for both of us.

Question: When and where were you when you drank your first craft beer?

Answer: February 1991 in Anchorage, Alaska, at the Alaskan Fur-Rondy Festival, which is the kick-off party for the Iditarod Race.

Question: What’s your favorite and why?

Answer: Great Divide Oak Aged Yeti. It’s an amazing imperial stout with lots of roasty, chocolate notes that picks up the vanilla character from the oak barrels. Since its not available in Las Vegas I can only get it when I go to the Great American Beer Festival in Denver — which could be another reason.

Contact reporter Alan Snel at or 702-387-5273. Follow @BicycleManSnel on Twitter.

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Apr 18, 2014
Freddie Kitson

Edwardsville Spring Beer Festival planned at City Park

Following the success of the previous beer festivals, Global Brew Tap House and Lounge will be hosting the Edwardsville Spring Beer Festival on Saturday, April 26, from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. in Edwardsville City Park.

This year is the second installment of the spring festival. Last year’s attracted more than 2,000 people to the park despite some rain.

With a bigger turnout than previous festivals, the choice was made to host another spring event.

As with previous beer festivals, more than 20 different craft breweries will be represented.

Laura High, co-owner of Global Brew Tap House and Lounge, said they are focusing on the variety. She is excited about the new beers on offer at the festival including: Dogfish Head, two new offerings from Goose Island Beer Co., and Civil Life.

Additionally there are some local St. Louis breweries being featured including: Schlafly, 4 Hands Brewing and Urban Chestnut Brewing.

Beers on tap will range from IPAs, brown ales, spring and summer seasonals, ciders and more.

“I like to think at Global Brew – the establishment and the festival – we welcome those who are craft beer experts or a craft beer novice. Maybe you just like wine, cider. Depending on the type of cider, it can be a really great way to tiptoe into this world of craft beers. Even some of the light beers like Goose Island 312 Urban Pale Ale is a very good stepping stone. The (Sierra Nevada) Summerfest, again, is a very good stepping stone to get you out, try something different and enjoy an experience,” High said.

The festival isn’t just about beer. There will be food from local restaurants available from 1818 Chophouse, Cleveland-Heath, Bigelo’s Bistro, Chava’s and Joe’s Pizza.

Rain or shine the event will happen and in case of rain, a large tent has been rented to make sure the party continues even if Mother Nature doesn’t cooperate.

Finally, no beer festival would complete without live music and this one is no different with three acts set to take the stage.

Kicking off the live music is Wack-A-Doo at 11 a.m. until 1 p.m. At 1:30 p.m., Dana Michael Anderson 6 Mile will take the stage until 4 p.m. Wrapping up the day will be Sam West from 4:30 p.m. to 7 p.m.

High said all of the music will be family appropriate. 

Money raised at this year’s beer festival will be used to send underprivileged Boy Scouts from the local Lewis and Clark Council to summer camp.

“We thought with the summer coming up, what’s something we can do. When we talked to the Scouts in the area we found some underprivileged youth can’t afford to go to summer camp,” High said. “That is just a need that we were so ready and so willing to help with. To be able to send some of these kids to camp that otherwise might not have been able to go. So we are really excited about it.”

It costs approximately $250 for a scout to go to summer camp for a week-long camping experience. In addition to meals for the week, daily program opportunities include rock climbing/rappelling, shooting sports, swimming and all-terrain vehicles.

There is no cost to attend the beer festival and attendees do not have to be 21 to enter. However, those wishing to purchase beer must be 21. No coolers or food are permitted and leashed dogs are allowed. The Edwardsville Police will be on hand to confiscate any fake IDs.

For additional information, questions and updates visit Global Brew’s Facebook page or call Global Brew at 307-5858

“We’re really excited. It’s wonderful to be in this community. There are so many great local businesses who want to support charities and we think this is a really fun and easy way to do it,” High said.

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Apr 17, 2014
Freddie Kitson

Black Raven Flock Party 2014 – Details Announced

Story by Kendall Jones, via Washington Beer Blog.

It’s time to get ready for the Black Raven Flock Party. This year’s event takes place on Saturday, May 3rd at the brewery in Redmond. Black Raven Brewing pulls out all the stops for this one, offering so many different beers that this event is kind of like its own little beer festival. Little? Maybe not. Some people call the Flock Party one of the area’s best beer festivals of the year.

And its not only about beer. There will be plenty of great food options, including some local food trucks, like Where Ya At Matt. New this year, a cigar lounge. And of course, great live music all day long. Sadly, my band, Four on the Floor, will not be playing the Flock Party this year, as we’ve done the past two years. I will be out of town and will miss the event this year. (No, the band has not forgiven me yet.) Here are all the details about the Black Raven Flock Party.

black_raven_flock_party_201SATURDAY MAY 3rd



12:45 – 1:30PM

“Every Single Day”

Acoustic Rock to start you off right.

1:50 – 2:50PM

“Georgetown Orbits”

Local ska/reggae band for some island sounds.

3:05 – 4:50PM

“Mc Tuff”

Powerful and jaw-dropping funk and jazz sound.

5:05 – 7:00PM

“C-Leb and the Kettle Black”

Local blues based rock that is sure to please.

Please note times are approximate.


  • Sunthief Kristallweizen
  • Totem Pale
  • Trickster IPA
  • Tamerlane Brown Porter
  • Second Sight Strong Scotch
  • Morrighan Nitro Stout
  • White Raven Wit
  • Feral Saison
  • Nothing but Flowers SIPA
  • Hochzeit Pilsner
  • Gunpowder Plot Porter
  • Pour Les Oiseaux Saison Brett
  • Grandfather Raven Imperial Stout
  • Wisdom Seeker DIPA
  • Tangerine Dream
  • Son of Birdserker SIPA
  • Tri-berry Pie Wild Sour
  • Corvus Kriekus Wild Sour
  • Tricky Kitty Blueberry Vanilla Catnip Ale
  • Ravenous Belgian Style Stout
  • CASK – Trickster IPA blended with Barleywine/Brett
  • CASK – Jerked Brown Porter
  • CASK – White Raven Wit with blueberry roobois
  • CASK – Hopzeit hoppy pilsner






Black Raven Grill

Brewery brats and chips

(cash only)

Where Ya at Matt

New Orleans style food truck

Wiseguy Italian Street Food

Meat, vegetables and sauce!

Brave Horse Tavern

Handmade pretzels


Outdoor cigar lounge provided by Union Cigar Society.

Fine cigars will be available for purchase and enjoyment.


Event is 21+

ATM will be on site

Retail merchandise booth

Please note that many of the booths and beer pouring stations are cash only for this event.

Last call at 7:15 PM

Event promptly ends at 8:00PM

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Apr 17, 2014
Freddie Kitson

New craft beer brewing program would be first in SC

A new degree program is brewing at Horry-Georgetown Technical College aimed at training students for the fast and spirited industry surrounding craft beer.

HGTC received the go-ahead last week from its area commissioners to offer an Associate in Applied Science with a major in brewing, distillation and fermentation – which would be the first program of its kind in South Carolina, said Marilyn Fore, HGTC executive vice president for academic affairs.

HGTC is working on a statewide employment needs assessment – one of the first steps for getting state approval.

“We’re the renegades here – there’s no other [brewing] program in the state,” Fore said. “Every single comment to me about the program has been positive, and there’s excitement over the college offering not only a program that is going to provide students with a new kind of occupation, but one that is personally appealing to a lot of people.”

The brewing program, expected to open in fall 2015, would fall under the culinary department, last five semesters and feature an internship with hands-on applications at a brewery or distribution center in this area, Fore said. It is being modeled after brewing programs already offered at three technical schools in North Carolina, including Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College in Asheville, which offers courses such as craft beer brewing, beverage management, beverage marketing, sales, packaging materials and quality, and distillation operations.

Admissions details are somewhat unique for a program like this, Fore said, as students would need to be 21 years old when they take their first core brewing class. Other requirements she has researched pertain to student health, requiring them to be tested for hepatitis, able to lift a certain amount of weight and able to work in humid and cool conditions related to maintaining the bottled brew.

Several breweries now dot the Grand Strand, and the area hosts a number of craft beer festivals. The Myrtle Beach Regional Economic Development Corp. also is courting Stone Brewing Co. to open its new East Coast operation in Horry County.

Roddy Graham, operations manager at New South Brewing in Myrtle Beach, said the degree program would be a plus in an industry where, traditionally, employees have been trained by brewers and have had to learn by working from the ground up. He said there have been craft beer industry booms in the past that fizzled for a variety of reasons, but having people with this type of formal training should sustain the industry’s current popularity.

“We think it’s great for the industry,” Graham said. “Coming from the scientific side of things, having a background in all the other areas is beneficial – like understanding distribution. It’s good for [distributors] to know what we go through here at the brewery.”

There were more than 2,750 craft breweries operating in the United States for some or all of last year, including brewpubs, microbreweries and regional craft breweries, according to the Brewers Association. Craft brewers provide an estimated 110,000 jobs, and the industry grew last year 18 percent by volume and 20 percent by dollars, compared with 15 percent and 17 percent respectively in 2012, the association said.

HGTC will go through eight approval steps at the state level between now and fall 2015, Fore said, but she doesn’t expect any problems with the program being approved by the S.C. Technical College System Board or the S.C. Commission on Higher Education. She said a lot depends on the needs assessment, which she believes will come back strong.

“I predict we will see many job opportunities locally and statewide over the next three years and that those are going to increase,” Fore said. “It’s a growing industry.”

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Apr 17, 2014
Freddie Kitson

Reading Beer and Cider Festival: Leading role for Liz Taylor

By day, Liz Taylor is troubleshooting for international businesses. But she has another important life – as a qualified bouncer.

One day she’ll be in London for businesses meetings, another elsewhere in the world sorting out the problems of firms wanting to secure their futures.

But it’s her expertise as Security Industry Authority (SIA) licence-holder that has helped make sure Reading Beer and Cider Festival is such a happy and peaceful place that the council has allowed the event a decrease in the numbers required to steward it.

Berkshire beer festival listings 2014  

The normal requirement for one steward per 120 guests has been relaxed to one per 150 after years of well run stewarding operations.

There is now a core of SIA licensed stewards and a larger team of non-SIA stewards who are trained up for the festivals. This year there are 52 in total, all of them volunteers.

Mrs Taylor, 50, first got involved around the year 2000, trained for the SIA licence and is now chief steward at the Reading festival. She also stewards at other CAMRA festivals around the country.

She said music festivals tend to need more attention than beer festivals and at Reading Beer and Cider Festival last year, one of the top jobs was reuniting a toy giraffe called Gerald with its owner, a task successfully accomplished by her team.

Reading, she said, is one place where they don’t just have to ‘stand there looking grumpy’.

It’s drinkers range from groups of young people (aged 18 – 25) to the more serious ‘scoopers’ (the beer equivalent to twitchers in birdwatching).

Mrs Taylor said: “Our customers come to have a good time in a lovely atmosphere. It’s not like going into the town centre.”

The friendly atmosphere extends to the stewarding team too where some have even brought their offspring along to join them. Stewards themselves range from a council IT manager and an environmental assessment consultant to a blood transfusion expert and a medical orderly.

Mrs Taylor regards her CAMRA colleagues like members of her extended family. She once lived in Belgium and still flew back for each festival.

She added: “It doesn’t feel like hard work. If you ask me if I’d spent the beer festival hard at work I’d say ‘yes’. But I come back every year.”

*As usual, this year’s Reading Beer and Cider Festival is on the May Day Bank Holiday weekend from May 1 – 4 at King’s Meadow.


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Apr 17, 2014
Freddie Kitson

How far are you willing to travel for a beer?

As people around the world embrace craft beer, beer travel is a growing trend. We do it for wine, so why not beer, asks Rebecca Whyman, a member of Campaign for Real Ale.

Whyman says she would love to travel more often for beer — but when going to every beer festival worldwide is not in your budget, she say you can still get some decent craft beer on your holidays.

Whyman recommends starting with some research on the Internet to find out which breweries are near your  destination, and what events are taking place while you’re there. She says a recent trip of hers to Mexico produced some delicious results, and on an upcoming trip she will be going to the Las Vegas Beer Fest. 

Before you arrive, you can plug into the local beer scene, and start following beer makers on social media. 

World travel map

Travel the world tasting beer (CBC)

Beer Advocate is a beer magazine and website that can help you find craft beer locales in cities throughout the U.S. and a few other countries.  They also have a very extensive beer events calendar. also has an extensive beer events calendar for the U.S. and some other countries, as well as reviews of breweries, brewpubs, bottle shops and craft beer bars.

Some of Whyman’s friends also take B.C. beer with them when they travel to share with the locals. They are often given beer in return to bring home with them.  She says this is a great way to bring B.C. beer to foreign places, making you a beer ambassador. 

Beer festivals

If you are actually intentionally chasing beer around the world, more planning is needed. First, you have to research beer festivals and beer-centric cities, find out when their festivals are and then plan your travel around them. One of the oldest beer destinations has been Germany’s Oktoberfest. 

A few other festivals of note are the Great American Beer Festival in Denver, Colorado in October, and Montreal’s Mondiale de la Biere in June.

Rebecca Whyman

Rebecca Whyman asks why not travel for beer? (CBC)

There is a list of beer festivals world-wide on the website, and a list of Canadian beer festivals on the Canadian Beer News website. is another good site to check. 

Festivals aside, beer destinations can also be about the place itself.  Whyman recommends travelling to Belgium to try all those great Belgian beers right from the source. Take a tour of the monasteries to learn about the Trappist beers, and bring some of the beer only available on site home with you.

The Westvleteren brewery only sells their beer one case at a time and only by appointment at their door, says Whyman. Achel makes four different styles of beer but only sells one. The only way to try some of these beers is to travel to Belgium.

There are plenty of great beer-centric cities to visit a little closer to home, she adds.  Portland Oregon tops that list. Rebecca says she tries to get there at least twice a year as new breweries are cropping up in the city at least as frequently as in Vancouver.

Here are Rebecca’s beer picks for this week, from Belgium and Portland:

  • Chimay Red, White and Blue caps are all available at specialty liquor stores. (Blue is a strong dark ale, Red is a dubbel and White is a trippel)
  • Gigantic IPA is available at specialty liquor stores in 22 oz. bombers.
  • Hopworks organic lager is available at specialty liquor stores in four-packs of cans.

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Apr 16, 2014
Freddie Kitson

Half Moon Bay Announces May Festivities

Half Moon Bay, Calif. – Half Moon Bay Brewing Company, the Coastside’s favorite family- and dog-friendly destination for craft beer and local seafood, has plenty to celebrate this May, including new Head Brewer, Shane Aldrich, who recently joined the brewing team alongside Brewmaster James Costa, a festive Cuatro de Mayo celebration and Mother’s Day beer tastings.  Continue reading »

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Apr 16, 2014
Freddie Kitson

Brew switcheroo

A few months ago, professional event organizer Sam Porter spotted a pile of empty beer cans after an event in East Lansing. Poking out from among the PBRs and Busch Lights, something caught his eye: a bottle from Grand Rapids-based microbrewery Founders Brewing Co. Most people wouldn’t give it a second thought, but for Porter, it was a sign of positive change in the way craft beer — and Michigan craft beer, at that — has gone mainstream.

“This is why we do beer festivals,” said Porter. “To put out Michigan craft beers and possibly change what students put in their fridges forever.”

Porter is the founder of Traverse City-based Porterhouse Productions and the creator of the Microbrew Music Festival, a debut event coming to Lou Adado Riverfront Park this weekend. It’s the second time in less than a month that downtown Lansing will host a festival incorporating craft beer and bands: Beerfest at the Ballpark, jointly hosted by the Lansing Lugnuts and beer news site I’m a Beer Hound, attracted over 2,500 people to Cooley Law School Stadium on April 5, proving there is a demand for events like this.

“More beer bars and beer stores are selling craft beer now,” said Paul Starr, founder of I’m a Beer Hound. “It’s become very accessible. Even Meijer has a huge craft beer selection.”

Starr has hosted several beer and music pairings, but nothing on the scale of what the Microbrew Music Festival is attempting: a two-day concert event featuring Michigan and national craft beer labels and internationally touring live acts, including O.A.R., DJ Logic and Dirty Heads.

“You walk in and there’s music and entertainment everywhere,” Porter said. “It’s like going to a great music festival with an open bar and 200 of the best beers around.”

Porter has refined the formula over the course of five fests with the same name in Traverse City.

When the Lansing event was announced last December, it was scheduled to take place in Adado Park. Fears of flooding after the winter’s heavy snowfall prompted a move to an undisclosed location in Old Town in March, but last week the festival was moved back to Adado. Porter demurred on the reasoning behind the double switcheroo, but said that Adado was the “preferred location.”

The musical line-up will also include local mainstays Lansing Unionized Vaudeville Spectacle and Frontier Ruckus (see page 24 for full lineup). Tickets include five 8-ounce pours of any of the 40-plus breweries in a custom tasting glass. Porter said music and craft beer are a natural pairing.

“(Music) creates that whole other level of wow,” he said.

Porter said community service is a built-in aspect of the festival; a portion of proceeds from alcohol ticket sales will benefit the Greater Lansing Food Bank.

“It will raise dollars for the food bank, it will drive and celebrate a new audience for craft beer, it will excite the market, it will put Lansing on the map, it will fill hotel rooms and it will reconnect friends,” Porter said. “It’s a musical festival in some hands and a great beer festival in others. Whatever (the audience) needs, they’re going to be satisfied.”

Other aspects to keep the crowd satisfied are the homebrewers’ IPA challenge, the sour beer tour and the rare beer tour, something that the event’s craft beer coordinator (what a title!), Katrina Jenkins, said would get the crowd and brewers especially excited.

“People will be counting down and chanting as the keg is being tapped,” Jenkins said.

The rare beer tour is secluded in a separate tent. Every 30 minutes a new brewery comes in, shares one of its beer and tell its story as the audience fights to get their questions answered before time runs out. Some of the the beers that are sampled will be made in small batches specially created for this event.

“Bud can’t come,” Porter joked.

When working on the beer list for the event, Jenkins had a few qualifications: The beer must come with a story and the brewery must participate in telling the attendees about its creation. Jenkins said it’s usually “a bunch of grizzled guys in beards” and “some awesome female brewers” that want to talk about their latest creations.

“I love a beer with a story behind it,” said Jenkins. “Every beer that’s poured at that event is created by somebody who put their heart and soul into it and cared so much about that product and the community they’re representing. You can taste the heart of it in every sip.”

“We love craft beer, period,” Porter said. “We are excited to raise a glass with Lansing.”

Microbrew Music Festival

p.m. Friday-Saturday, April 18-19 (VIPs get in 4 p.m. Friday, 3 p.m.
Saturday) $40-160 Lou Adado Riverfront Park 300 N. Grand Ave., Lansing

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