Browsing articles in "beer festivals"
Oct 24, 2014
Freddie Kitson

Fourth annual Yorktoberfest to feature rare beer, Oktoberfest vibe

Music from Alpenlaenders, a band founded in York, will underscore the festivals Oktoberfest atmosphere with two alphorns, pictured above.

In a time of year for beer festivals and chilly weather, Yorktoberfest has changed with the leaves.

For starters, the fourth annual beer and wine festival will be held this weekend at the York Fairgrounds instead of Santander Stadium.

At the stadium, patrons would have had to stay off the grass if it rained; the move allows the festival to “truly be rain or shine,” said co-organizer Matthew Davis.

“(York City food truck event) Foodstruck showed us that people are willing to go out in the rain,” he said.

The move also allows for a “more interesting layout” and more abundant parking, Davis said.

Selection: About 23 breweries will be represented at the festival, he said. Nine regional wineries, from Naylor Wine Cellars in Stewartstown to Happy Valley in State College, will also be represented at the festival.

Davis picks all the beer himself and said that, out of more than 70 regional and international brews, there are several notable selections.

Yorktoberfest is the debut event for Troegs Blizzard of Hops, which will come out about a week after the festival, Davis said. The event will also feature Wet Hop Ale from Rogue, he said.

“We also have a bunch of rare stuff that is on timed release — that means it’s limited and will only be available starting at that time,” Davis said.

He said that some of the beers had only a limited number of bottles produced — and that he’s sharing a few out of his “personal stash” so people can try them.

Music, food: This year’s entertainment is Alpenlaenders, a band founded in York that plays authentic folk and dance music from the Alps.

The band will perform as a trio, and the program will feature two alphorns, which are long, wooden horns played much like a bugle, said band leader Helmar Mueller.

“The music is all geared towards Oktoberfest now,” Davis said.

The food selection is also improved this year, he said.

Hanover-based Sensenig’s Meats and Catering will serve up hearty bratwurst sandwiches, turkey legs and a German-style “sundae” — mashed potatoes, pulled pork and sauerkraut stuffed into a cup, Davis said.

Other fare includes artisan grilled cheese from New Cumberland-based Mad Dash, as well as crab cakes and crab soup from Sherri’s Fun Foods in Camp Hill, he said.

Bricker’s Famous French Fries, a West Manchester Township business, will serve more traditional fair-style food, such as pizza, fries and funnel cakes, Davis said.

The numbers: About 2,400 ticketholders came to last year’s festival, he said, and “we have planned to keep it about the same size this year so we can concentrate on the move and improvements.”

The festival usually has a few dozen underage attendees, and some people bring their children, Davis said.

Another change this year is that people over age 16 have to pay to enter because last year, some people came in for free and shared their friends’ beer or used fake wristbands, he said.

“We aren’t worried about the money so much as worried that we will run out of beer for people who paid to get in,” Davis said.

The Sons of the American Legion present the annual festivals as part of an effort to raise money for local, regional and national organizations.

This year, group will give at least $5,000, and Davis said he expects that $10,000 or more will be donated to other causes.

Get your drink on:

The fourth annual Yorktoberfest runs from noon to 5 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday at the York Fairgrounds, and the event is rain or shine.

Patrons must be 21 to sample beer and wine, and those over 16 will have to pay to get in the gate. There are three beverage options:

•Beer tasting, 1 to 5 p.m. Saturday or Sunday: $40, includes a souvenir pint glass and limitless sampling for one adult

•Wine tasting, noon to 5 p.m. Saturday or Sunday: $20, includes a souvenir wine glass and limitless sampling for one adult

•Designated driver, noon to 5 p.m. Saturday or Sunday: $20, includes free water, homemade sodas and a limited edition T-shirt

Tickets are available for purchase at www.yorktoberfest.com or at the gate until they sell out.

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Oct 23, 2014
Freddie Kitson

Two New Beer Fests Coming Soon: Crafts and Drafts, and Guild Fest

GuildFest.jpegI’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Nashville seems to have an insatiable appetite (or rather thirst) when it comes to craft beer festivals. There are two new ones coming up, and they both look like they could be outstanding.

First, the bad news: Both events are on Nov. 8. Now the good news: The Scene‘s Crafts and Drafts event at the Nashville Farmers’ Market runs from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., givinh you plenty of time to work around a visit to The Tennessee Craft Brewers Guild’s inaugural Guild Fest, which taps at 2 p.m. and pours until 6. (That would be a good day to patronize Uber or Lyft …)

Now the details. Crafts and Drafts began as a Washington, D.C. event called Crafty Bastards, a curated sale of arts and crafts made by hand by local artisans. The Nashville event is free to attend and will feature a long list of your favorite local crafts vendors, just in time to kick off your holiday shopping. Local food and beer purveyors will also be on hand to sell their wares and keep the commerce flowing.

Guild Fest grew out of the Taste of Tennessee Craft Beer festival last month at the Tennessee State Fair. The brewers came together at that event and decided they should hold their own festival to raise money for the Tennessee Craft Brewers Guild, a remarkably effective nonprofit organization created to promote and protect the breweries of the state. The guild was instrumental in changing the state’s laws to lower the oppressive beer tax and raise the cap on what is considered low-gravity beer in Tennessee.

Guild Fest will raise money to support the guild, and attendees will get to sample brews from 20 Tennessee breweries while enjoying live music and Nashville food trucks. As a bonus, all of the participating breweries will be releasing special new beers just for the festival.

Tickets to the event (which will be held at Little Harpeth Brewing Company, at 30 Oldham St. near LP Field) are $45 and include all the beer samples and a souvenir glass. Go buy some here today!

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Oct 22, 2014
Freddie Kitson

Beer Fest Hosts Miss Sunset

More than 20 beauties are set to strut their stuff on the ramp on Friday and Saturday at Sunset Arena in the inaugural Miss Sunset pageant. The pageant will run on the sidelines of the Sunset October Beer Festival and will take place at the Fringe Platform, a section of various fun activities of the beer festival off the Main Stage. On Friday, the opening day of the beer festival, the models will clash in the preliminary round of the pageant and selected finalists will contest in the final that takes place on Saturday.

Sunset October Beer Festival organisers said they had collaborated with Size 4 Modelling Agency to bring the pageant that would add fun to the festival.

Size 4 Modelling Agency director Wilbert Rukato said the pageant would bring variety to the beer festival.

“This will be a beer festival with a difference because it will also incorporate modelling. Models are often used to market beer brands and their presence at the festival will tell the story of their profession,” said Rukato.

“People are not used to seeing pageants at beer festivals but this edition will be unique and would show people the beauty that the country has. It will also be an opportunity for the models to market themselves for potential deals with various companies that will exhibit at the beer festival.”

Rukato said more than 20 models will take part in the preliminaries on Friday and 12 contestants will make it to the final to be held on Saturday, the last day of the beer festival.

Packages for winners have not yet been revealed but organisers of the beer festival said they had a big surprise for Miss Sunset queen.

“The pageant will be the first of many other to come in next editions of beer festivals. It will add colour to the festival that will also have many other activities. We promise a surprise for the inaugural queen,” said the organisers.

The two-day beer festival will present various fun activities in addition to music performances that will be on the main stage.

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Oct 21, 2014
Freddie Kitson

First Impressions: Getting to Know Georgia’s Beer Scene

Being someone who writes a good deal about craft beer, one of the most exciting aspects of recently moving from Illinois to Georgia was the knowledge that it would mean exposure to a vastly different beer scene. In terms of distributorships alone, it means access to a variety of breweries along the East Coast and Southern corridors that I’ve largely never sampled before. And that’s not even including all the local Georgia and Atlanta brews.

In some sense, it’s also a somewhat intimidating prospect to start all over in terms of building one’s knowledge and “cred,” as it were. After all, I’d already spent an unfathomable number of hours during the last seven years getting to know all the breweries (and brewers, and beer bars, and beer stores) of cities such as St. Louis and Chicago. That familiarity has now been wiped away.

So, how does one start fresh? Aside from visiting every brewery in person (which I am currently carrying out by traveling East/West across the entirety of Atlanta), one of the most effective ways to get an initial impression is to attend as many tap takeovers and larger beer festivals as one can. Last weekend’s Decatur Craft Beer Festival and the upcoming Georgia Craft Beer Festival are perfect opportunities to eschew some of the larger national breweries and focus exclusively on brewers from Georgia.

Here are some takeaways from both the Decatur festival and my first month of experiencing Georgia beer:

— The immediate Atlanta/Athens area is filled with great brewers of Belgian beer in particular. Between brews such as Wild Heaven Brewing Co.’s Eschaton Quadrupel and Three Taverns Brewing Co.’s Theophane The Recluse (a Belgian imperial stout), the American-Belgian products are as strong as any I’ve had elsewhere.

— On the other hand, I find myself still searching for hop-forward beers that can measure up to some of the best IPAs I had access to in Chicago in particular, from breweries such as Half Acre, Revolution Brewing Co. and Pipeworks Brewing Co. The one truly stand-out Georgian IPA I’ve had so far has been from the Athens-based Creature Comforts, which will begin canning that beer, Tropicalia, in November. To which I say: Thank you.

Creature-Comforts-Tropicalia (Custom).jpg

Creature Comforts actually deserves its own note—I have sampled a lot of breweries, and you tend to get a feel for which ones have an immediate X-factor. Creature comforts has that quality. At the Decatur Craft Beer Fest, their “Southerly Love” wild ale was a bit like a tart and fruit-forward IPA, one of the most intriguing beers of the fest. Their cucumber-lime gose is refreshingly inventive. Their Berliner weisse is fascinating as well. So far, it seems like these guys haven’t made a bad beer, so keep your eyes peeled for any stray kegs that make it to your local beer bar.

— Other breweries that stood out for one reason or another at the festival: Yes Face Beer Co. for their surprisingly good take on a traditional ESB. Eagle Creek Brewing Co’s lemon-lime hefeweizen. The simple pleasure of Jailhouse Brewing Co.’s Breakout Stout. The odd collection of beers from Reformation Brewery, including a toasted coconut porter, a “session Belgian dubbel” that the brewer called “like a singel and three quarters,” and a malt-heavy IPA. Terrapin Brewing Co.’s surprisingly good fresh-hop beer, So Fresh, So Green, Green.

— Georgian beer law is oppressive to say the least. Brewers in the state aren’t allowed to self-distribute at any size. Nor can they sell the public a pint of beer at their taproom. Rather, every single brewery in Atlanta instead opens for only a few hours a week to sell “tasting glasses,” which just so happen to come with tours and tokens redeemable for beer samples. It’s an absolutely ludicrous system that makes things needlessly complex, and it needs to change if Georgian brewers are going to be afforded even close to the legal rights and protection that breweries enjoy in most other states. Leading this fight is the Georgia Craft Brewers Guild, which now has a petition circulating, calling for reform. If you’re a craft beer supporter, you should sign the petition immediately.

At this point, a month or so into my exploration of Southern beer culture, I’ve only scratched the surface. In the coming months, I’ll continue making in-person visits to breweries throughout Atlanta. Once those are complete, I’ll start road-tripping to cities such as Athens and beyond. Call it obsessive—I’ll call it passionate.

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Oct 16, 2014
Freddie Kitson

A Tale of Beer Festivals

Photo: The Herald

The Lion Lager Summer Beer Festival that took place at Glamis Arena last weekend was quite a fun-filled event. Although Jamaica’s Konshens who was supposed to be the main act at the festival cancelled his tour at the eleventh hour, the fête went on very well and it appeared most people at the event felt indifferent about the change of programme. They came in their numbers and enjoyed themselves from Saturday afternoon to the early hours of Sunday. It was all about fun.

Now, another beer festival will be upon us next week.

The Sunset October Beer Festival takes place at Sunset Arena on Friday and Saturday and many activities are lined up for the two-day fête.

This October should be an exciting month for fun-lovers.

Although there would be no international act at the upcoming festival, organisers have engaged various artistes for the event.

Dancehall artistes dominate the list, which means that Tocky Vibes, Soul Jah Love and Shinsoman that were part of the Lion Larger Summer Beer Festival will return to the stage at another beer festival.

They did well at last week’s beer festival and another chance for them to entertain imbibers comes next week.

They will, of course have to battle it out with the likes of Seh Calaz, Killer T, Ricky Fire, Freeman, Lady Squanda and many others from the genre.

Many upcoming dancehall artistes are expected at Sunset Arena and these youngsters are always unpredictable.

They can fire from the blind side and give their established counterparts a tough time.

So, for Shinsoman, Tocky Vibes and Soul Jah Love, next week’s event will be a different affair.

Last week, the only other dancehall artiste at the show was Winky D. South Africa’s Uhuru and Jah Prayzah had different tastes to offer.

However, despite the presenting some different performers one thing is common about the two festivals – it is about fun, fun and more fun.

At last week’s festival people were mainly engaged in having fun among themselves. The attachment to the stage was a bit distant as compared to the previous festivals that had performers like Beenie Man and P-Square.

It seemed people had something else to enjoy about the festival.

For the whole night, there was pressure at the numerous liquor selling points that the organisers erected at the venue as people jostled to buy beverages.

The police had to maintain order at some of the points as imbibers got impatient with the pressure.

Most people went for discounted liquor brands. Imbibers bought beer in bulk to evade pressure and the fun continued until the morning.

Some of the drinkers said they did not care about what had happened on stage since they had come for “fun in the park”.

Despite the international acts that had good performances at previous beer festivals, many people are now asking:

What brings more fun to a beer festival?

Is it about stage acts or fun activities made for the audience?

Of course, music and general fun complement each other but it seems attendees are no longer worried much about who performs.

They just want music to complement the fun. That could be the reason why there was no outcry about the absence of Konshens and that could also explain why many did not bother to scrutinize Uhuru’s performance.

While at general music shows, people are usually attracted by performers, beer festivals seem hinged on the fun off the stage.

There might be no international act at the Sunset October Beer Festival but the fun will definitely continue.

Many people that attended last week’s festival are likely to be back to a similar territory next week.

Both organisers of the festivals have reiterated that the events are not meant to compete.

They complement each other in giving fun to the people. So, the fun continues next week.

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Oct 15, 2014
Freddie Kitson

London Beer Festival Roundup: October 2014

The Green Green Hops of Kent

From Oktoberfest to Halloween, there’s a definite autumnal theme to some of London’s October beer festivals. We’ve picked a handful of the more interesting ones here; as always let us know in the comments if we’ve missed anything worthwhile.

2-4 October: The Gun Okto-beer-fest

In our view, many of London’s Oktoberfest-inspired beer festivals turn out to be fairly dismal affairs. However we have a suspicion that the groansomely-named Okto-beer-fest at Isle of Dogs gastro-pub The Gun could be better than most, thanks to the pub’s well-established reputation for serving good food and beer. German beers will, obviously, be the prominent booze offering here, and food will be of the barbecued variety. Entry is free, but hope for clement weather, as the festival take places in the Gin Garden next to the Thames.

9-12 October: The Snooty Fox Green Green Hops of Kent Real Ale Festival

The latest beer festival at Canonbury’s excellent Snooty Fox pub promises to be suitably seasonal, celebrating beers made with fresh, not dried, hops from Kent. Such beers can only usually be made within a fairly narrow time-window after the late summer hop harvest, and benefit from different flavours and aromas compared to beers made with dried hops (as is usual). The Snooty Fox claims that this festival will bring together the largest collection of these ‘green hop’ beers ever seen in London, so it could be an interesting prospect for both beer nerds and more casual ale drinkers alike.

16-18 October: Wallington Beer Festival

Aptly enough, Wallington Hall plays host to CAMRA’s Wallington Beer Festival (a.k.a. the 21st Sutton Croydon Beer Cider Festival). Something in the region of 50 cask ales are promised, all reasonably local — originating from within 30 miles of the venue. An “exciting range” of European bottled beers will also be available, as well as more than 15 ciders and perries. The festival opens at midday on the Thursday and runs until 6pm on the Saturday.

23-25 October: Twickenham Beer Cider Festival

Another CAMRA beer festival (PDF), this time from the Richmond and Hounslow branch, takes place at Twickenham’s York House. For a mere £3 (or £2 if you are a CAMRA member), plus another £3 refundable deposit for a pint glass, you’ll get access to about 65 ales, plus a customary smattering of ciders and perries. The festival runs from midday on the Thursday until 9pm on the Saturday, and intends to be ‘family friendly’ before 6:30pm on the Friday and Saturday.

29 October-1 November: Wandsworth Common Halloween Beer Festival

A stalwart fixture in the annual beer festival calendar, the Wandsworth Common Halloween Beer Festival returns to the magnificent Le Gothique at the end of the month. More than 100 cask ales are set to feature, including a number of rare or one-off beers, as well as some from America. Tickets for the Thursday, Friday or Saturday cost £5 (or £4 for CAMRA members) — you can pay on the door, but you’ll need to register online beforehand. Alternatively, you can pay £25 for the preview night on the Wednesday, with all cask ale included in the ticket price.

If you’re a lover of beer or pubs, why not buy the Londonist book of London pub crawls for less than the price of a pint.

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Oct 15, 2014
Freddie Kitson

Three Big City Beer Festivals to Finish Out October

Detroit Fall Beer Festival

The Michigan Brewers Guild brings the Detroit Fall Beer Festival to Eastern Market on October 24 and October 25. The focus is dedicated to breweries and offerings from Michigan, as the festival features 450 craft beers from around 60 different breweries. Things will set you back $40 for either session, and that includes 15 taster tokens that you can exchange for samples.

NYC Craft Beer Festival Autumn Harvest

Head to New York City to celebrate Halloween and the last moments of October, as the NYC Craft Beer Festival does its thing between October 31 and November 1. Ales, lagers, and everything in between will be on the menu, as over 150 offerings will be available from over 75 different breweries. Tickets will set you back $55, and that will get you access to unlimited two-ounce tastings of all the beers you care to test out. The fun takes place over at the citys Lexington Armory, and youre even free to come in costume on Friday nightits Halloween.

[Photo: Official Site / NYC Craft Beer Festival Autumn Harvest]

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Oct 14, 2014
Freddie Kitson

Portland, Oregon vs. San Diego: What’s the Better Beer City?

Portland, Oregon vs. San Diego: What's the Better Beer City?

Each week, Yahoo Travel pits rival destinations against each other to determine once and for all which place is the best. This week it’s Portland, Ore., vs. San Diego for the title of best beer city.

The case for Portland, by Heather Hansman

This is hardly a contest. Sure, San Diego has stalwarts like Stone Brewing Company and sunny patios prime for afternoon drinking, but it can’t match Portland’s creativity, commitment, and embedded beer culture. Everything that makes Portland Portland — like its commitment to small-batch, local, and handcrafted creations and its unconventional tendencies — also makes for good beer. And in classic hipster fashion, Portland has been brewing craft beers since before it was cool. The microbrew scene has been around since the early ’80s with the BridgePort and Widmer Brothers breweries, and it’s still thriving and growing.

portland beer

Portland has a lot of craft brews. (Photo: Getty Images)

Number of breweries: 56 in the city of Portland, and 76 in the Portland metro area. Oregon boasts the most breweries per capita, and PDX has the most breweries of any city in the country, according to the Brewers Association. Not bad for a city of just over 600,000.

portland beer

Portland has an annual Fruit Beer Festival. (Photo: Will Vanlue/Flickr)

Festivals: There’s a beer festival almost every weekend, and they range from the highly specific — like the Portland Fruit Beer Festival in June — to the huge. The Oregon Brewers Festival is one of the biggest in the country. Mark your calendar for December’s Holiday Ale Festival, where local breweries make seasonal beers specifically for the celebration. Sometimes they even let California stragglers, like Bear Republic, show up.

Awards: There are too many award-winning Portland beers to name, but a good entry point is Breakside Brewery’s IPA, which won a gold medal for American Style IPA at this year’s North American Beer Awards.

 Related: Brewed to Perfection: The Best Beer in Every State

portland beer

Kennedy Elementary School has been turned into a beer lover’s hotel dreams. (Photo: McMenamins/Facebook)

Beer-themed hotel: The McMenamin brothers started one of the first breweries in Portland in the early ’80s and then went on to open hotels and music venues across the state. Stay at the McMenamin’s Kennedy School in Northeast, an elementary school that’s been renovated and turned into a hotel. Drink in the classrooms, then work off your hangover in the soaking pool in the former teacher’s lounge. 

portland beer

Making falafel at Wolf and Bear’s (Photo: Wolf and Bear’s/Facebook)

Best beer/food pairing: Portland also has a justifiable reputation as one of the best food towns in the country, so the options are varied and very good. At the food cart pod on Southeast 28th and Ankeny, you can get falafel at Wolf and Bear’s or pasta at Burrasca to eat with your brews from the Captured by Porches Beer Bus.

portland beer

Beer from a mini mart? Only in Portland. (Photo: John Biehler/Flickr)

Most obscure/scenic/interesting place to get a beer: In Portland, and in Oregon in general, even lowly gas stations and bodegas are ripe with local microbrews. You can top off a growler at hole-in-the-wall corner stores, like the 39th Street Mini Mart, which is usually the cheapest place in town to fill up on high quality beers.

Related: Thursday Night: Portland, Oregon

portland beer

Fred Eckhardt (Photo: Jeff Alworth/Flickr)

Notable beer personalities: Legendary beer writer Fred Eckhardt has been writing about beer in the Portland area and beyond since the ’80s. When he turned 80, the Portland beer community put on Fred Fest for his birthday in May. This year will mark the ninth anniversary of this celebration.

portland beer

Make sure your bike has a basket so you can get your beer home. (Photo: Will Vanlue/Flickr)

Best way to do a brewery tour: Bikes are just as popular as beers in Portland, so a two-wheeled brewery tour is the local way to go. It’s so standard that there’s even a book about the best way to do it. “Hop in the Saddle” is a guidebook about biking the Portland craft beer scene. It includes maps of five different bike routes.

portland beer

Grab a tasty brew from Hair of the Dog. (Photo: francisco delatorre/Flickr)

Best beer neighborhood: No quadrant of Portland will leave you thirsty, but the Southeast has a particularly high concentration of small-scale breweries. Go to Hair of the Dog, Portland’s original cult-status microbrewery.

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The S’more beer from Base Camp Brewery (Photo: Patrick M/Flickr)

Most interesting beer: Base Camp Brewing Company’s S’more Stout sounds and looks like a novelty beer, but it’s surprisingly complicated and delicious. And, despite the fact that it comes with a roasted marshmallow on the rim, it’s not too sweet.

The case for San Diego, by Spencer Spellman 

To pit San Diego’s beer prowess against Portland’s is like comparing red velvet cake to fruitcake. San Diego’s history of brewing beer dates back more than 100 years, which sets it apart from many cities today that claim they have the best beer. Portland may have the most breweries of any city, but quantity doesn’t always trump quality, with San Diego often being referred to as the “Craft Beer Capital of America.” San Diego got its craft beer kick-start in the 1980s, long before many other “beer cities,” when award-winning brewery Karl Strauss Brewing Company opened its doors, with many others following suit.

san diego beer

San Diego’s beer history goes further back than that of its rivals. (Photo: slworking2/Flickr)

Number of breweries: There are more than 100 licensed brewhouses (and another 50 planned) in San Diego, including both brewpubs and breweries, many of which, like Ballast Point, Karl Strauss, and Pizza Port, have several brewpubs. That number, however, applies to San Diego County as a whole, rather than San Diego proper.

san diego beer

A taste of San Diego Beer Week (Photo: crosby_cj/Flickr)

Festivals: There are simply too many San Diego beer festivals to name them all. San Diego Beer Week alone is home to hundreds of events that will take place throughout San Diego County in early November, starting with the San Diego Brewers Guild Festival. Most notably, however, is the San Diego International Beer Festival, which is the largest West Coast beer festival. Other notable gatherings include the San Diego Festival of Beer, San Diego Winter Brew Fest, and San Diego Beer Festival.

san diego beer

Award-winning Ballast Point Brewery is a must-visit. (Photo: beccacantpark/Flickr)

Awards: Where do I even start? Karl Strauss Brewing Company alone has won 64 medals over the last four years. Great American Beer Festival winners in 2013 for San Diego include gold for Monkey Paw’s Bonobos and bronze for Pizza Port’s Kung Fu Elvis in the American-Style Strong Pale Ale category. Ballast Point has won several medals at the Great American Beer Festival and three gold medals and “Small Brewery Champion” at the World Beer Cup.

san diego beer

Golf and an Even Keel IPA at Rancho Bernardo Inn is a nice way to spend the afternoon. (Photo: Rancho Bernardo Inn/Facebook)

Beer-themed hotel: San Diego hotels are starting to cater to beer enthusiasts. Rancho Bernardo Inn, for example, features a beer-tasting package that includes tickets to several local breweries, including Ballast Point. Stone Brewing, however, is the first San Diego brewery to announce plans to develop a hotel.

Related: Smackdown: Chicago vs. New York City

san diego beer

Local Habit’s food and beer pairings always deliver on flavor. (Photo: Local Habit/Facebook)

Best beer/food pairing: Beer and greasy food just seem to go hand-in-hand. But beer and fresh organic food from local farms? Naturally, if anywhere is going to do it well, it’s going to be California. And that’s what you’ll find at Local Habit, where craft beers are paired with organic food from local farms. A recent pairing matched Creole potato salad with bacon and shrimp with Sudwerk’s Coffee Vanilla Porter.

san diego beer

A good PSA from Barberside (Photo: Barberside.com)

Most obscure/scenic/interesting place to get a beer: When was the last time you were greeted at a barbershop with a beer? Exactly! Well you can do just that at Barberside, an old-school barbershop, where patrons are asked if they’d like a beer when they walk in to get a haircut.

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Dr. Bill (Photo: Twitter)

Notable beer personalities: While there are a lot of beer personalities and writers in San Diego, it’s hard to deny the expertise of Bill Sysak, or as he’s largely known in the beer community, Dr. Bill. He is the Craft Beer Ambassador for Stone Brewing and a Master Cicerone, the final level of certification. In other words, the guy knows his beer, and equally as important, he knows how to pair it with food.

Related: Brewmasters Delight: The Most Loved U.S. Craft Breweries

san diego beer

A military approach to beer (Photo: Scavengers Beer and Adventure Tours)

Best way to do a brewery tour: Portland can keep its bicycling brewery tours because San Diego has its own open-air brewery tour — from within a 12-seat Swiss military vehicle called a Pinzgauer (pronounced pinz-gow-er) — with Scavengers Beer and Adventure Tours. Winner, winner, brewery dinner. The tour includes a visit to three craft breweries, a production tour of one brewery, four to six tasters at each stop, a meal from Famous Phil’s BBQ, and a souvenir 6-ounce tasting glass.

Best beer neighborhood: With more than 100 breweries and brewpubs spread throughout the county, you won’t have a problem finding a plethora of watering holes. However, the highest concentration of brewhouses can be found in North County, often referred to as Hops Highway because the stretch of Highway 78  is lined with breweries and brewpubs.

san diego beer

Try the Coffee Milk Stout at Monkey Paw. (Photo: Monkey Paw Brewery)

Most interesting beer: If you like experimenting with beer, look no further than Monkey Paw Brewery, which offers its guests interesting brews such as Brainfood and Great Ape Nectar. Their most interesting beer, however, has to be one of their sweet stouts, the Coffee Milk Stout, a sweet beer with a chocolate and caramel finish, thanks to the 55 pounds of dulce de leche and 5 pounds of coffee beans.

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Oct 13, 2014
Freddie Kitson

Under cloudy skies, Good Beer pours

Apparently, size doesn’t matter. At least not at the Good Beer Festival, where enthusiasts sipped greater varieties of craft beer from tasting glasses they grumbled were smaller.

“The festival always grows but the glasses always get smaller,” said Zachary Howard, a Cambridge resident. Howard attended the festival in past years as a student at Salisbury University. He returned this year as a graduate, pleased with the growing number of vendors and beer-pouring stations, but grumbling about tasting glasses he insisted were smaller.

“There are more vendors, quality vendors,” he said. “So it’s good.”

Intermittent drizzles and overcast skies didn’t dampen spirits of an estimated 1,000 enthusiasts who strolled carefree Saturday through Pemberton Historical Park west of Salisbury on opening day of the Good Beer Festival which runs through today.

Festivalgoers didn’t mind cloudy skies and chilly temperatures, saying that sunny, summer-like weather could have swelled crowds and created longer lines for beer, food and arts and crafts.

“I came before as a student and had a lot of fun, so I came back this year and brought friends,” said Leah Visakowitz of Baltimore. “It’s the perfect crowd because you don’t have to wait in lines too long.”

Anthony Bamford of Baltimore discovered chimney cakes by vendor Chimney Cake Express of Laurel, Delaware. The spiraled, baked, sweet-dough pastry is served garnished with cinnamon, sprinkles or other toppings and compared to fried funnel cake.

“We were talking about what a chimney cake is — it’s really good,” Bamford said. “It’s good here because it’s soft with a gentle sweetness and goes good with beer.”

The annual event sponsored by the Wicomico County Department of Recreation, Parks and Tourism has a goal of between 2,500 and 3,000 festivalgoers before the event ends at 6:30 p.m. today.

At least 1,400 advanced tickets had sold by Saturday’s opening day, said Andy Kitzrow, an event planner. People concerned about the weather likely waited and purchased tickets at the gate, he said.

“Last year, it was a great atmosphere even with rain,” Kitzrow said. “People who really enjoy craft beer come independent of the weather.”

Enthusiasts traveled from as far as Canada to sample one of the largest beer festivals in the region, he said.

“I think what happens is that people appreciate the variety of offerings, and they will travel to a destination to enjoy them,” Kitzrow said. “We are one of the largest festivals, if not the largest, on the Eastern Shore of Maryland.”

New this year is a Home Brewer’s Garden sponsored by Xtreme Brewing of Lewes. Enthusiasts stopped by to watch demonstrations and learn about making their own beer.

Today’s Home Brewer’s Garden starts 1:30 p.m. and demonstrates barrel aged beers, steps to producing lager beer, hop utilization and more.

Craft beer is relatively new to Marcus Smiley of Salisbury who, on Saturday, attended his first craft beer festival to sample bone up on the varieties.

“This is my first time,” Smiley said. “I recently started drinking craft beer, and I wanted to come out and taste everything. So here I am, drinking good beer and having a good time.”

He had 125 craft beer offerings to choose from, Kitzrow said. What’s more, beer-pouring stations have increased this year by at least four, to 16, and include local breweries in a Local Beer Garden where representatives answer questions and offer brew tips.

Kitzrow

said enthusiasts should enjoy the festival and remember one thing:

“What’s important is that people are encouraged to drink responsibly.”

A note on the size of the apparently redesigned tasting glasses: “The glass is 3 ounces — it looks smaller, but it is the same size as before,” Kitzrow said.

dgates@dmg.gannett.com

On Twitter @DTDeborahGates

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Oct 11, 2014
Freddie Kitson

Three cheers for beer in Vegas!

It’s a good month to be a beer lover in Las Vegas. September gets three weekends of big beer festivals, each with its own personality. So whether your beer drinking style is that of an aficionado, block party enthusiast or an international partier, there’s somewhere for you to raise your pint.

Mandalay Bay Beer Weekend, September 12-14

Created by Mandalay Bay food and beverage director and certified cicerone Sarah Johnson, this three-day extravaganza kicks off tonight and goes through Sunday, with events taking place both day and night. Start the sudsy weekend with the five-course Brewmasters’ Dinner at Mix ($225), hosted by Johnson, Matt Brynildson of Firestone Walker, and Garrett Oliver of Brooklyn Brewery. The brewmasters will talk you through the beer paired with each dish so you know exactly what you’re getting yourself into.

Kick off your Saturday with a little beer education, the Craft Beer Revolution discussion panel (free, limited to first 100 attendees) takes place at Eyecandy Sound Lounge at 3 p.m. Johnson hosts the panel with Brooklyn Brewery co-founder Steve Hindy, talking all things craft beer. Hindy will also sign copies of his book, The Craft Beer Revolution, after the panel with copies available for $20.

When the sun goes down, head to Mandalay Beach for the Beer Festival ($75) where nearly 30 breweries will be set up with samples to sip. Taste your way through Lagunitas, The Bruery, New Belgium and Stillwater Artisanal, as well as locally made brews from Joseph James, Banger Brewing and Tenaya Creek. You’ll need to eat with all that beer, so make sure you cushion your stomach with bites from Sage, Yusho, Border Grill and Stripsteak.

There’s nothing wrong with Beer for Breakfast, which is exactly what chef Hubert Keller is serving bright and early on Sunday at 9 a.m. Chef Keller has rounded up special á la carte brunch items, which are of course paired with beers by Johnson.

Downtown Brew Festival, September 20

The third annual Downtown Brew Festival feels more like a block party under the stars at the Clark County Amphitheater. The evening includes live entertainment by A Crowd of Small Adventures, with Josh Royse and Daniel Park setting the mood as you drink your way through more than 150 craft beers from some 60 breweries. This year, the fest expands its craft beer and backyard motif with restaurants such as Comme Ça, DW Bistro and Forte adding more flavor to the evening. Expect exciting dishes such as crispy pig skins with chile-lime sea salt and smoked Kumamoto oysters.

If you want to go all out, the VIP Pavilion features some specialty beers that won’t be offered to general admission guests, as well as an appearance by former Chopped finalist chef Sonia El-Nawal, who opens The Perch at Downtown Container Park in late September. This marks the first appearance for Stone Brewing Co. and festival sponsor Victory Brewing Company, which will soon be making its Vegas debut.

General admission starts at $35, early entry at $45 and VIP at $75, prices go up on September 16 and September 20. Tickets will be available at the door. A portion of ticket proceeds will benefit The Neon Museum and Nevada Craft Brewers Association (NCBA).

Desert Hops Festival, September 27

The festival that bills itself as the “International Beer Experience” returns poolside at the Cosmopolitan for another year, promising to be a globally inspired soiree with 150 beers from 25 different countries. Drink your way around the world through unlimited samples of brews such as Tsingtao, Innis Gunn, and Carlsberg. Snack on multi-cultural bites from Cosmo’s own lineup of restaurants. In the event you forget what country you’re in, look no further than the stellar view of the Strip.

General admission $45, VIP tickets are $65 and include early entry at 7 p.m., cosmopolitanlasvegas.com

SEE MORE: Las Vegas’ best places for craft beer

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