Browsing articles in "beer festivals"
Jul 17, 2014
Freddie Kitson

Sierra Nevada’s Beer Camp Across America festival tour comes to Denver

Finally, a summer camp for the 21 and older set that’s just as much fun as the camps you remember from your childhood, complete with sing-alongs, home cooking and mountain air — and minus the lame hours spent making arts and crafts.

Next weekend, more than 200 craft beers from 100 breweries around the mountain west and western plains region will be poured at the Denver stop of Sierra Nevada’s Beer Camp Across America festival tour. One ticket gains beer geeks access to brews from Colorado, Indiana, Kansas, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Oklahoma, Utah and Wyoming and a dozen special collaboration brews created just for the festival.

This is the inaugural Beer Camp tour, which also makes stops in California, Maine, North Carolina, Philadelphia and Chicago. Summit County brews from Backcountry in Frisco, Pug Ryan’s in Dillon and the Denver arm of Breckenridge Brewery are amongst those in the mix.

“I think it’s cool,” said Alan Simons, head brewer at Backcountry. “I’ve always been a big fan of Sierra Nevada, so if they’re going to invite a bunch of breweries to a festival they’re hosting, I’m on board.”

Special delivery

Simons will most likely be doling out samples of his latest batch of Double IPA, made with a big hit of Citra hops for less bitterness and more fruity notes and aroma, and a new iteration of Berliner Weisse with an even more tart, tangy bite than the last round the brewery tapped. He said being limited to only two beers from each brewery sets this festival apart from other larger events like the Great American Beer Festival.

“It’ll be much smaller, too, ‘only’ 100 some breweries,” Simons said. “It’ll be interesting to see if it’s kind of more like your general beer festival crowd, or your beer enthusiast, beer geek crowd. I think it’s pretty exciting; I think it’s neat they are doing it in different cities.”

Sierra Nevada invited every craft brewery in the country, all 2,800 of them, to participate in one of the seven stops on the tour, and the invites they sent out came in a pretty enticing package.

“They mailed everybody a double IPA, so the invitation was actually a bottle of beer,” Simons said. “It was actually pretty good beer. I don’t go to all the beer festivals anymore, but this is one of them I’m going to try to get down to for sure.”

Along with the tasty beer treats, festival-goers will be able to purchase food from a dozen different Denver food carts, including Big Kiwi, Church of Cupcakes, Cilantro Truck, Crazy Good Food, Crock Spot, Fried Pie Mama, Little India, Meatball, Moe’s BBQ, O.T. go, OG Burger and Still Smokin. The evening event, which runs from 5 to 10 p.m. on Friday, June 25, will close out with music from the MarchFourth Marching Band.

If you can’t go

If attending Beer Camp isn’t in the cards for you this weekend, you can still get a taste of Sierra Nevada’s collaborative efforts through the Beer Camp Across America variety pack. The pack features 12 beers that were partnerships between Sierra Nevada and other craft breweries from coast to coast, ranging from the 8.5 percent alcohol by volume Electric Ray India Pale Lager, a collaboration with Ballast Point Brewing Co. in San Diego, to the more sessionable Torpedo Pilsner Hoppy Pilsner, a partnership with neighboring brewery Firestone Walker.

Locally, the Beer Camp Across America variety pack, featuring 10 bottles and two canned beers, will be available at Antlers Discount Liquors in Frisco, Dillon Ridge Liquors in Dillon and City Liquors and Skee Vue Liquors in Breckenridge as early as Friday, July 18.

“I thought it was kind of neat how they did the breweries that were mostly canning breweries, they put them in a can,” Simons said of the variety pack. “If I see it out there, I’ll probably purchase it.”

Apres Handcrafted Libations in Breckenridge will also have all 12 brews on tap for one day only on Friday, Aug. 1, with a 6 p.m. party that night with Sierra Nevada representatives giving away brewery swag.

For the full lineup of breweries attending the Beer Camp Across America tour stop in Denver, details on the collaboration beer variety pack and everything else beer camp, visit

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Jul 17, 2014
Freddie Kitson

Sierra Nevada Brewing celebrates new brewery with ‘Beer Camp’ road trip …

Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. has been the Sacramento beer drinker’s gateway craft brew for more than three decades. I don’t know how many times I’ve heard someone tell me that, for some reason, they ordered a Sierra Nevada Pale Ale at a bar instead of a Bud or Coors. And that this seemingly insignificant decision in their life was transcendent. No longer would they settle for watered-down corporate beer. Sierra was their introduction to the world of craft. To the possibility of bitter hop flavors. It was a palate shocker. The proverbial beer awakening.

And now, after 35 years of operating its brewery a stone’s throw north of Sacramento in Chico, Sierra Nevada is moving. OK, calm down. It’s also staying. It’s not complicated. Let me explain.

This Saturday, Sierra Nevada will welcome 110 brewers from across the country to its headquarters for one of the largest beer festivals in the country. The event is a kickoff party for Sierra’s seven-stop, nationwide beer tour. Called Beer Camp Across America, the caravan will end later this summer in North Carolina, to commemorate the opening of Sierra’s new brewery. There’s also a special 12-pack of collaboration beers to mark the occasion.

It might just be the biggest Northern California beer party ever.

The reason Sierra Nevada is expanding is because the nation’s second-largest craft brewery has been running at capacity for a long time. This according to spokesperson Ryan Arnold. “We’re making beer 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” he told SNR. This means that brewers are working night shifts, and that there’s zero time for things like large-scale maintenance or innovation. Just beer, beer, beer.

The catch is that Sierra Nevada is making so much brew, it’s pushing its limit, which is 1 million barrels a year in production. That’s a lot of brew.

For comparison, one of Sacramento’s largest local breweries, Track 7 Brewing Co.—which announced a forthcoming move into a new 35,000-square-foot facility in Natomas next year—estimates that it will make only 2,300 barrels in 2015. A million barrels of beer; it would take more than 400 Track 7 breweries to hit that number.

Anyway, Sierra had a problem. It needed to ratchet down production in its hometown of Chico without decreasing the amount of brew it would make in a year.

Enter North Carolina: In April 2012, Sierra broke ground on its second brewery location, in Mills River, a smaller town just outside of Asheville. Sierra employees say Mills shares similar characteristics to Chico: fresh water, a nice outdoorsy vibe. This new brewery will celebrate its grand opening on August 3. It’s a big deal in the craft-beer world.

To celebrate, Sierra Nevada co-owner Ken Grossman decided to throw a beer party. “Let’s invite every single craft brewery in the country,” he said. So he did: Sierra sent an invite, accompanied by a special West Coast-style IPA bottle with a custom silk-screened label. “It’s kind of a message in a bottle, if you will,” Arnold said. It read: “Join us to make this the largest craft beer celebration in history.”

Of the 3,000-plus craft breweries in the United States, more than 700 RSVP’d, including 75 here in Northern California and many from Sacramento. I’m not aware of a larger craft-beer blowout.

“The fervor, just the excitement, is quite impressive,” Arnold says.

It doesn’t end with the festival. To promote the tour, founder Grossman invited 12 of the country’s most popular craft breweries to come to Chico (and North Carolina) to brew a collaboration batch. Planning and plane tickets and fermentation all went down in the past year, and this month, the dozen brews hit stores.

The end product comes in a giant orange-and-blue box and features a design that feels like a rock ’n’ roll tour poster. Inside are 10 bottles and two cans—which is unusual, because cans seldom mingle with bottles—all brewed by some of the nation’s best: 3 Floyds Brewing Co. from Indiana, Allagash Brewing Company from Maine, Cigar City Brewing from Florida and others.

Arnold calls the 12-pack an “unprecedented, crazy idea,” and says it speaks to why Grossman founded Sierra Nevada in the first place. “Ken tends to be a pretty humble fellow,” Arnold says. So, he wanted to make the beer tour and new-brewery opening about the beer community. “’How can we make this about the success of craft beer and not our success?’” Arnold says Grossman asked. “’We don’t really get to this point without a lot of great work by other people.’”

Indeed, the 12-pack is like a dozen snapshots of the American craft-beer scene in 2014. It captures the leaders at work. It showcases the nation’s top breweries and their mastery of classic and European beer styles. It celebrates beer’s sense of adventure and experimentation. It’s fun, unexpected and—ultimately—quite tasty.

I cracked open a fresh box of Beer Camp this past weekend (disclosure: It retails for $24.99, but I received my box complimentary from Sierra Nevada). Because there’s 144 ounces of beer inside, I invited SNR film critic and His Hers Beer Notes scribe Daniel Barnes to help out.

Russian River Brewing Company, of nearby Santa Rosa, collaborated with Sierra on a Belgian-style blond called Yvan the Great. The beer is an homage to Brasserie De La Senne in Belgium, and this exceedingly light, but delicately spiced and bready brew invoked the styles of the classic Belgium brewery. Both Barnes and I agreed it was the standout of the pack.

Russian River’s impressiveness was not unexpected. We did, however, not anticipate such a strong liking for There and Back, an English-style bitter by Wisconsin-based New Glarus Brewing Company. New Glarus is known mostly for its fruit beers and flagship Berliner Weiss, but this beer’s light touch and gentle, fruity and bitter finish was memorable.

Oregon-based Ninkasi Brewing collaborated on a supreme milk stout with coffee. Michigan’s Bell’s Brewing really nailed its dark ale. And, in a surprise move, 3 Floyds brewed a dead-ringer clone of Sierra’s flagship pale ale: bitter, malty, smooth.

Sierra will distribute 110,000 of these Beer Camp boxes across the country to commemorate its big move. “We all work pretty hard to make great beer, and we want people to see our beer,” Arnold says. Invariably, it will be popular: One of the first shipments, which arrived at Final Gravity Taproom Bottleshop in Roseville last week, sold out in less than 24 hours.

But when this weekend’s big party in Chico ends and the beer tour winds down in Mills River and the new brewery opens and everything is back to normal, will Sierra Nevada change now that it’s brewing nearly a third of its beer on the other side of the country?

Not really, Arnold says. And if Sierra does evolve, it will be for the good. For instance, the brewery produced 100 different styles of beer in Chico last year, but most consumers don’t get to try these. So the brewers want to expand their barrel-aging and wild-ale programs to meet craft-beer-aficionado demand. Ratcheting down normal production in Chico helps them achieve this goal. “It will give us flexibility to do experimentation,” Arnold says.

Sierra actually just acquired new warehouse space in Chico, for example, and he hinted it might be used to increase Sierra’s aging of beer in whiskey and bourbon barrels. “Barrel-aging is fun. Barrel-aging is exciting. We’re interested in it.”

Considering America’s ever-growing interest in craft beer, it’s probably safe to assume the feeling will be mutual for another 35 years.

Recommended Reading

Jul 17, 2014
Freddie Kitson

Beer Banter: Sesh Fest and the Future of Craft Brewing

Sesh Fest Ryan Hodros

Image provided by Imbibe! Denver

What:  Sesh Fest by Imbibe! Denver and the Colorado Brewers Guild
Where:  Sculpture Park, 1101 13th St, Denver
When: August 2nd from 3:00pm to 7:00pm
Pros:  Session Beers mean more than just a taste of each brew on tap.
Cons:  Low abv beers are notoriously difficult to pack with flavor.

It’s no exaggeration to say that Collaboration Fest, the first event in the Lovibond Series from Imbibe! Denver and the Colorado Brewers Guild, blew me away.  The second event, taking place on August 2nd, looks to be equally amazing with Sesh Fest, a celebration of sessionable ales and lagers that looks to be the party of your dreams.

I sat down with Steve Kurowski from the Colorado Brewers Guild to talk about the festival, about session beers, and about what makes this particular style so special.

What is a Session Beer?

Sesh Fest Camille Breslin

Photo by Camille Breslin

It’s difficult to define exactly what a session beer is because the craft brewing community is somewhat divided on the subject.  For the festival, the definition being used is 5% abv or less, but with the big craft flavor fans expect from their beers.  “It’s not just yellow lagers,” Steve assured me.  Patrons can expect a variety of styles and flavors, but with less alcohol content–a real challenge to the craft brewers of Colorado.  “It’s more difficult to make a big flavors sessionable,” he said.  “It’s just harder to hide the flaws.  A session beer must be clean.”

“If we’re going to grow as an industry, we need to learn to brew all beers, and brew them well.”  –Steve Kurowski, Colorado Brewers Guild

Regulars on the craft brew scene know that you don’t see many breweries putting out lower abv beers on a regular basis.  While fans of the style love that big beers have been embraced, adventurous drinkers as well as casual beer fans find it somewhat off putting, particularly because you simply can only drink so many big beers in a night.

This isn’t a new development on the world beer scene.  The UK, Ireland, and Germany have all been brewing low abv beers for years.  Denver’s own Hogshead Brewery specializes in British style smaller beers.  They allow you to drink one after another without making a fool of yourself.

“[Sesh Fest] isn’t just yellow lagers.”  –Steve Kurowski

Sesh Fest Adam Ripplinger

Photo by Adam Ripplinger

“We want to break the stigma [of exclusively making high abv beers].  Brewers can make beers where you can have several on a Sunday and still make work on Monday.”  Steve believes this is the next wave of growth in the craft brewing industry, as a well-made session beer can entice more people than a double IPA.

Steve won me over to his side in the discussion, but let’s concentrate on the shindig that’s coming up at the beginning of August.

What to expect at Sesh Fest

In addition to the dozens of breweries that will be showing up for the festival, Steve says patrons can also expect food trucks, DJs, and lawn games.  However, he emphasized that the focus of the day will be on the beer.  Most surprisingly, suds junkies can expect six ounce pours, rather than the one to two ounce tasters you normally get at craft beer festivals.  “Some will be dark, some will be yellow, some will be malty, some hoppy, but they’re all going to be great.”

The General Admission Ticket gets you into the event with a commemorative glass and six pours included in the price (additional tokens will be available for purchase).  The “all you can session” Ticket gets you unlimited pours in addition to the glass.  With the high caliber of brews we saw at Collaboration Fest, I highly recommend springing for the “all you can session” ticket at the second event in the Lovibond Series.  It will save you money in the long run.

The most interesting aspect of this particular festival is that it promises to be more accessible to the average drinker, rather than catering specifically to craft brew fans.  In other words, you can bring friends that don’t go gaga over an IPA.  I will definitely be there enjoying the festivities, live-tweeting the event.  Tweet me pics of you enjoying your favorite session brews while you’re there!

Recommended Reading

Jul 16, 2014
Freddie Kitson

Shmaltz to Host “Books on Tap”

Clifton Park, NYThis summer, Shmaltz Brewing hosts a series of renowned craft beer authors with “Books on Tap — the Craft of Writing About Craft Beer,” which is moderated by Shmaltz owner and Craft Beer Bar Mitzvah author Jeremy Cowan. Kicking off the series this Sunday, July 20, 2014 is John Holl, author of The American Craft Beer Cookbook. Holl serves up plenty of banter and mouthwatering craft beer and food pairings featured in his best-selling cookbook. Chef Rachel of The Ruck in Troy, NY prepares recipes from the book to complement Shmaltz’s line-up of He’brew hand crafted beers. Three consecutive Sundays throughout August 2014 present additional celebrated authors. Each moderated discussion is followed by a book signing and Shmaltz brewery tour. All events run from 2 pm – 3:30 pm in the Shmaltz Tasting Room located at 6 Fairchild Square, Clifton Park, NY, 12065.

Jeremy Cowan notes, “I’m so honored to have these talented writers share their craft with us and the local community. Each writer is an expert in the craft brewing field, with a breadth and depth of experience within the industry and plenty of fun anecdotes to share. From the history of brewing, current brewing trends, beer styles and food pairings, they have experienced and written about everything creative, interesting, and meaningful about these small businesses — breweries. I’m thrilled to have this exciting series take place at our new home in Clifton Park, NY.”

Mark your calendars for the additional events planned for the series continuing in August 2014, including Giancarlo and Sarah Annese, Beer Lover’s New York (Aug. 3), Ben Keene, The Great Northeast Brewery Tour (Aug. 10), and Tom Acitelli, The Audacity of Hops: The History of America’s Craft Beer Revolution (Aug. 17). More information on each author and their respective book is below.

Sunday, July 20, 2014
2:00 – 3:30 p.m.
John Holl
The American Craft Beer Cookbook

John Holl is a metro New York based journalist covering beer and the culture of drinking. The author of The American Craft Beer Cookbook, he is also the editor of All About Beer Magazine and the host of the Beer Briefing on iHeartRadio. John has written for the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Beer Connoisseur, Beverage World, and many other publications. He’s judged beer competitions around the globe, regularly lectures on craft beer, and appears often on television.

In his latest book, Holl captures the best of the brewery and brewpub menus by featuring 155 recipes covering breakfast to dessert, with vegetarian and gluten free options along with soups, seafood and more. The recipes were contributed by breweries, brewpubs, and other beer lovers across the United States. The American Craft Beer Cookbook is a celebration of craft beer, food, and the people behind it.

Sunday, August 3, 2014
2:00 – 3:30 p.m.
Giancarlo Sarah Annese
Beer Lover’s New York

Establishing a name for themselves from the very popular craft beer blog, Beer Union, Giancarlo and Sarah Annese spent four months traveling across New York State in 2013 to research and write their debut book, Beer Lover’s New York: The Empire State’s Best Breweries, Brewpubs Beer Bars. One part of the Beer Lover’s Series, the married couple focuses their love of craft beer on their own stomping ground of New York State. The Beer Lover’s series features regional breweries, brewpubs and beer bars for those looking to seek out and celebrate the best brews–from bitter seasonal IPAs to rich, dark stouts–their cities have to offer. These comprehensive guides cover the entire beer experience for the proud, local enthusiast and the traveling visitor alike.

Sunday, August 10, 2014
2:00 – 3:30 p.m.
Ben Keene
The Great Northeast Brewery Tour

Ben Keene is the managing editor of BeerAdvocate magazine and the author of The Great Northeast Brewery Tour. He contributed to the Oxford Companion to Beer, winner of the 2011 André Simon Book Award in the Drinks Category, and his articles on craft beer and brewing have appeared in DRAFT, All About Beer, Edible Jersey, USA Today, and Edible Boston. When in the Capital Region, his chosen beer is Bittersweet Lenny’s R.I.P.A.®

As craft brewing becomes increasingly inventive, with new beers demonstrating remarkable complexity, one region of the United States is particularly notable for its fascinating brewing scene: the Northeast. New England and the Mid-Atlantic boast some of America’s most interesting craft breweries–there, beer lovers can discover exceptional brews, lively taprooms, spectacular views, and many other qualities that make the Northeast a must-visit region for anyone interested in craft brewing. In The Great Northeast Brewery Tour, beer expert Ben Keene introduces readers to sixty two of the most incredible breweries in Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, and Washington, D.C.

Sunday, August 17, 2014
2:00 – 3:30 p.m.
Tom Acitelli
The Audacity of Hops: The History of America’s Craft Beer Revolution
Official Website:

Discover the underdog story of how America came to dominate beer stylistically in Tom Acitelli’s The Audacity of Hops: The History of America’s Craft Beer Revolution, the first comprehensive history book on American craft beer. Based on extensive archival research as well as interviews with the movement’s key players going back to the 1960s, this acclaimed book is the most comprehensive chronicle yet of one of the most interesting and lucrative culinary trends in the U.S. since World War II.

Acitelli weaves the story of the rise of American craft beer into the tales of trends like Slow Food and the rebirth of America’s urban areas, and paints an unforgettable portrait of plucky entrepreneurial triumph. The backgrounds on all your favorite craft brewers are here, including often forgotten heroes from the movement’s earliest days as well as the history of homebrewing since Prohibition. This is the “book for the craft beer nerd who thinks he or she already knows the story” (Los Angeles Times) as well as for fans of good food and drink in general.

About Shmaltz Brewing Company
Ranked in 2013 as one of the “Top 100 Brewers in the World” by, Shmaltz won 9 Gold and 5 Silver Medals in the World Beer Championships in 2012. A recipient of the “Distinguished Business Award” by the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce, Shmaltz was also included in the “Top 50 Fastest Growing Bay Area Companies” by San Francisco Business Times.

Founder and owner Jeremy Cowan established the company in San Francisco in 1996 with the first 100 cases of He’brew Beer® hand bottled and delivered throughout the Bay Area in his Grandmother’s Volvo. He’brew® now sells across 37 states, through 40 wholesalers and nearly 5,000 retailers. In 2007, Shmaltz released a new line of craft brewed lagers under the Coney Island® banner. The Coney Island brand was recently acquired by Alchemy and Science, a craft beer incubator, owned by Boston Beer (Sam Adams).

After 17 years of being an outspoken cheerleader for contract brewing, Shmaltz recently broke with tradition and opened its own New York State production brewery in Clifton Park, NY, 10 minutes north of Albany’s capital district. Shmaltz’s new home boasts a 50-barrel brewhouse with 20,000 barrels of annual capacity. The new brewery packages 12 and 22 ounce bottles and kegs of their diverse core and seasonal favorites, and hosts fans and beer tourists in their new tasting room for tours, barrel-aged previews, and special releases.

In 2010/11, Cowan published his small business memoir, Craft Beer Bar Mitzvah: How It Took 13 Years, Extreme Jewish Brewing, and Circus Sideshow Freaks to Make Shmaltz Brewing Company an International Success. A free sampling of Chapter One and suggested beer pairings, can be viewed at In 2012, Cowan spearheaded the creation of the non-profit New York City Brewers Guild (which manages NYC Beer Week) and served as its Founding President.

Cowan also has presented at the 2013 Craft Brewers Conference, as well as previous Great American Beer Festivals, BevNet’s Brewbound conference, Beer Advocate’s Extreme Beer Festival, the Atlanta and the St. Louis Jewish Book Fairs, and the San Francisco and New York Jewish Museums.

Shmaltz Brewing beers have appeared in such distinguished media outlets as The New York Times, CNN Headline News, Beer Advocate Magazine, NPR’s “Weekend Edition,” Fox Business News, Men’s Health, San Francisco Chronicle, The Jerusalem Report, New York Jewish Week, and Washington Post.

Shmaltz Brewing Company

6 Fairchild Square
Clifton Park, NY 12065
United States

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Jul 16, 2014
Freddie Kitson

Nashville’s original Music City Brewers Fest hits downtown this Saturday

Nashville’s original Music City Brewers Fest hits Walk of Fame Park this Saturday.

More Photos

The venerable Music City Brewers Festival celebrates it’s thirteenth consecutive season in style at the downtown Walk of Fame Park this Saturday, July 19. Once again, there will be two sessions, noon to 4:00, and 6:00 to 10:00 p.m. The ticket price for session one is only $39, making it the lowest priced beer festival in Nashville. The preferred second session ticket goes for $59.

And how’s this for big? The Music City Brewers Fest was named one of the Top Eight summer beer festivals in the country by GAC! Others on the list include Key West Brewfest, Oregon Brewers Fest, Denver’s Summer Brew Fest, Great Taste of the Midwest, even the American Beer Classic in D.C. Talk about being in great company.

And there is more big news this year, the local breweries are back! Here’s the background on that. The Brewers Fest used to be the only beer festival in town, for many years, in fact. The distributors used that event for marketing and promotion of the beer they carried, and donated the beer, considering it a marketing expense. Well, a few years ago, beer festivals started popping up all over town, seemingly year round. The newcomers all wanted the same deal on beer, and it just got out of control. A couple years ago, the new Tennessee Craft Brewers Guild enacted a policy that prohibited donating beer, and the Tennessee Wholesalers got on board. The Brewers Fest, which plans many months in advance, wasn’t wholly aware of the new guidelines and missed out on their participation last year.

Now, with another year of planning in the books, we can look forward to all our local favorites, including Yazoo, Jackalope, Tennessee Brew Works, Czann’s, all from the Nashville Brewery District. Black Abbey, Turtle Anarchy, Cool Springs Brewery and Little Harpeth will also be there. We’ll get to sample beer from a new guy from Tullahoma, Old Shed. Of course all the regional favorites will be there such as Sierra Nevada, Oskar Blues, Lagunitas, Lexington, Flat 12 (personal friends), and Atwater from Detroit (brother is a brewer there). Obviously, there will be no dearth of opportunity to taste great craft beer.

And for the first time, there will be a VIP ticket available, for $75, that includes the Mafiaoza’s Brewers Reception, Friday night from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. This will include beer and food pairings with food provided by Mafiaoza’s, of course, who is the title sponsor of the festival. Fat Bottom and Blackstone will also provide food, as well as the new Sutler, and Frothy Monkey. This is really a great deal at $75. It includes this two hour private beer and food tasting with early admission to session one.

Another bit of big news is that Great Lakes Brewing company will have beer on site for sampling. This may be the first time ever in Nashville. Don’t miss the Edmund Fitzgerald porter, or the Burning River pale. Yes, burning river, named after the Cuyahoga river, which actually caught on fire in Cleveland, where they are based.

With over fifty breweries, there will be close to 200 different beers available for sampling. With proceeds benefiting Second Harvest, this is a don’t miss event. Get your tickets now!

Time for a pint. Cheers!

Recommended Reading

Jul 15, 2014
Freddie Kitson

Nightlife Agenda: A Wyoming Rodeo, a J Dilla tribute and a new rooftop hotspot

The DJs, bands, dance nights and parties you need to plan for in the next seven days. 

Del Campo

Wednesday, July 16
The Corcoran’s impending union with George Washington University and the National Gallery of Art has put the future of its popular events in doubt. The monthly Corcoran Uncorked happy hour goes on hiatus after tonight, so if you haven’t been, this is your chance. In honor of the new Albert Paley “American Metal” exhibition, tonight’s Uncorked features DJs spinning rockin’ heavy metal tunes in the atrium while guests tour the show, watch welding demonstrations and sip wine from the Muse cafe. Admission is $12; the event runs from 5 to 9 p.m.

Thursday, July 17
Groundbreaking hip-hop producer J Dilla created gems for many of the heaviest names in hip-hop and soul before his untimely death from a rare blood disease in 2006. It’s a testament to the annual DC Loves Dilla tribute concert that many of the artists who worked with Dilla have graced the event, including De La Soul, the Pharcyde and Slum Village, while a band of local luminaries flawlessly performs Dilla’s works live. The 2014 edition sees no reduction in the star power of Dilla’s peers: The slate includes Pharoahe Monch, N’Dea Davenport, Bahamadia and Phife Dawg of A Tribe Called Quest, as well as Washington’s own Asheru, Kokayi, Gods’illa and Ra The MC. J Dilla’s hefty discography comes to life at the Howard Theatre.

Since the Heurich House Museum began hosting monthly beer tastings in early 2013, the History and Hops series has focused almost exclusively on breweries from D.C. and its suburbs. That’s set to change in July, as the featured beers come from the award-winning Devils Backbone, a few hours southwest of here in Roseland, Va. Come tour the Victorian home of D.C. brewing magnate Christian Heurich and you’ll get unlimited pours of Vienna Lager, Turbo Cougar Blonde Bock and a cask version of 8 Point IPA, dry-hopped with Citra and Centennial hops. The $30 tickets must be purchased in advance; tastings and tours run from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.

Friday, July 18
Surprise: Del Campo has a rooftop deck. Okay, so technically it’s the rooftop of the office building in which the South American restaurant is located. But it’s a rooftop space nonetheless, and Del Campo is hosting its first public event there this week. Del Campo at Dusk features a special menu by chef Victor Albisu and Jonah Kim, late of Baltimore’s Pabu Izakaya. An all-inclusive $65 ticket features a summery raw bar menu of ceviche, sushi and other dishes paired with sake and pisco cocktails from 6 to 9 p.m.

Whether you’ve known the words to “Rocky Top” since you were a baby or just love Tennessee sippin’ whiskey, you’re invited to the Tennessee State Society’s annual Moonshine party at Southern Hospitality. Festivities kick off at 8 p.m. with two hours of free George Dickel whiskey and Dickel-based cocktails. From 10 to 11:30 p.m., Dickel drinks are $7. But this night is about mere than whiskey: There’s danceable Southern rock and funk from Alabama band the Good Doctor, free Southern-style hors d’oeuvres and a raffle. And if you want to keep the party going after 11:30 p.m., Mason Inn is hosting the official after-party. All-inclusive tickets are $25, or $20 for state society members.

Saturday, July 19
This weekend is the kickoff of Cheyenne Frontier Days, the largest outdoor rodeo in the world, with 10 days of parades, concerts and bull riding. What’s a homesick Wyomingite to do? Head to Eastern Market for C.O.W.P.I.E., the Wyoming State Society‘s 37th annual celebration of its home state. The main event is a mechanical bull riding contest — the winner takes home the official Cheyenne Frontier Days belt buckle — but there’s also dancing to live country music by the Wil Gravatt Band, unlimited whiskey and beer, Wyoming-style snacks, a raffle of Wyoming products and an outdoor patio area with hay bales. Cowboy hats and boots are suggested attire, but not required. Tickets are $35 through July 17 through the state society Web site, and $50 at the door. A $25 designated driver ticket, available at the door, includes admission but no drinks.

At most beer festivals, you just stand around and drink beer. Not at the annual Artists and Artisans festival hosted by 3 Stars Brewing Company, an event dedicated to showcasing local musicians, graffiti artists, clothing designers, food trucks and distillers. Among the highlights of the July 19 festival: A live set by buzzworthy rock band Spirit Animal, graffiti art, food truck snacks and a tasting with New Columbia Distillers. There will also be plenty of 3 Stars beer, of course, including their new radler. Tickets are $15 in advance, and they sold out in advance last year.

Recommended Reading

Jul 15, 2014
Freddie Kitson

McMaken: Good brews coming to Wheaton

The event, which takes place on Aug. 2, will feature over 100 local and national brews, live music, food vendors, and a lot of summer fun in Wheaton’s Memorial Park. Breweries offered at this year’s Brew Fest include Revolution, Destihl, Brickstone, 51st Ward, Boston Beer and many more.

Brian Whitkanack, restaurant director at Arrowhead Golf Club, says, “There are more and more beer festivals happening every year, but what makes ours unique is the setting; Memorial Park is the ideal location for this event. We at the Wheaton Park District have been given a great opportunity to bring the beer community together, from newbies to home brewers to brewmasters. I’m excited for people to come out and try some newer Illinois breweries like Penrose (Geneva), Destihl (Bloomington) and Tighthead (Mundelein), among many others.”

General admission, which is open from 1 to 4:30 p.m., is $45 and includes a commemorative pint glass and a lanyard with two 16 2-ounce taste passes (total 32 tastes). VIP tickets are $75 and include a commemorative pint glass, VIP lanyard with two 16 2-ounce taste passes (total 32 tastes), reserved VIP area with restrooms, access to limited edition craft beers (available only to VIP ticketholders), food buffet from 1 to 3 p.m. in VIP area, and a Wheaton Brew Fest shirt. VIP ticketholders will also be able to enter Memorial Park an hour early. Designated driver tickers are also available for a reduced fee.

Wheaton Brew Fest is sponsored by Haggerty Chevrolet, Dry City Brew Works, Euclid Beverage, Arrowhead Golf Club, and Binny’s Beverage Depot. A portion of the proceeds from the event will benefit the Court Appointed Special Advocates of DuPage County, a nonprofit organization that provides advocacy and support for abused and neglected children.

For more information on the Wheaton Brew Fest and to purchase tickets, visit

Bonnie McMaken is the marketing and events assistant for the Wheaton Park District.

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Jul 14, 2014
Freddie Kitson

Suds flow at beer festival in Oshawa

Oshawa This Week

DURHAM — If the first few hours of the Durham Craft Beer Festival were any indication, the event was a sudsy success.Several hundred people sampled the offerings during the first-ever festival on a sunny and warm afternoon in downtown Oshawa on July 12.

“Not a bad event, eh,” is how organizer Darryl Koster described the scene. “There’s a nice lineup down the street.”     Ontario Street between King and Bonds streets was open to pedestrians only and there were plenty of people taking in the event, which had a capacity of 796.

Cory Battista and Jennifer Eakin, both of Oshawa, were dressed in outfits they bought while travelling in Austria. Mr. Battista was wearing lederhosen with a blue checkered shirt, while Ms. Eakin was wearing a blue checkered dirndl dress.

“We wear them to all the beer festivals we go to,” Mr. Battista said. “This is exciting. Oshawa has its first beer festival. We got it going.”

 When people entered, they were given a five-ounce glass that brewers would fill. After finishing their beer, people would clean out their glasses at water stations before getting a refill.

Befitting a beer festival, several patrons were walking around in T-shirts with either a beer company logo on the front or a beer slogan. One such T-shirt read ‘I like my water with barley and hops’.

Another quoted Benjamin Franklin, who might have said ‘Beer is proof God loves us and wants us to be happy’.

Rick Johnston of Oshawa said he goes to beer festivals occasionally.

“A lot of what they have I’ve had before,” he noted, adding he regularly stops by Mr. Koster’s Buster Rhino’s Southern BBQ for lunch. “He has a good variety.”

Mr. Johnston wasn’t sure which was his favourite brew, but noted he liked IPAs (India Pale Ale).

John Hayes lives in downtown Oshawa and “it’s the kind of outdoor event I always wanted Oshawa to bring here.”  

There were 12 small craft breweries invited to the event. One was Nickel Brook Brewing Company of Burlington, which began in 2005, said Justin da Silva.

“We’re pretty much spending the summer doing different events across the province,” Mr. da Silva said, adding, “You couldn’t have asked for better weather.”

Nickel Brook was offering four beers, including its popular Uber Berliner Weisse.

Mr. Koster said he wanted to go with small local brewers, rather than large companies.

“They hire people in our communities. Their kids go to our schools.”

Black Oak Brewing is in Etobicoke and “we do a lot of these festivals,” Erica Campbell said.

In addition to the Oshawa event, Black Oak staff was also taking part in the Because Beer Craft Beer Festival in Hamilton on Saturday.

 One of the beers being offered was Ten Bitter Years Imperial IPA, which won gold in the Canadian Brewing Awards 2011, in the Imperial India Pale Ale category.

Whitby’s 5 Paddles Brewing Company had a long lineup for its fares, as did the Flying Monkeys Craft Brewing, which has the motto Normal is Weird.

Jessika Hall was at the event “just to drink beer.”

What she liked was the “beer, atmosphere, the people.”

William Slade of Oshawa favoured unfiltered Steam Whistle.

“It’s always been my favourite. I want to try other ones. I’ve done five and do at least five more. I’ll see how I feel after the next five,” he said.

Mr. Koster already has a lineup of brewers for the event next year.

“There’s no problem finding brewers.”

He expects next year’s event to be bigger.

“It is awesome.”

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Jul 14, 2014
Freddie Kitson

Fest offers 200 beers for sampling

So, do you know the difference between an ale and a cider, or a lager and a stout?

Find out at the 2nd annual Naperville Ale Fest, where more than 200 different craft beers from 100 brewers will be available for sampling from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday at Naper Settlement, 523 S. Webster St.

“We have worked hard to make sure this fest will be an enjoyable time for both craft beer aficionados and those who may be new to craft beer,” said organizer Josh Seago of Lou Dog Events. “Come with an open mind, but also have fun.”

Last year’s event drew about 4,000 brew enthusiasts. More are expected this year.

“We encourage guests to visit a variety of brewers and engage in conversation with the representatives,” Seago said. “We hope people will use this as a learning experience to discover new and exciting beers.”

It’s also a way to help support small businesses.

“Most breweries start out as small operations with just a couple of folks, and it is through craft beer festivals like ours where we help introduce new people to these breweries,” Seago said. “The Naperville Ale Fest supports local businesses as well. For example, all of our food vendors are local Naperville area restaurants.”

Ten food vendors will be serve up everything from pizza, wings and tacos to grilled cheese, BBQ burgers. Even cupcakes.

“We have added a special section we are calling ‘Cider Alley,’ which will house 20 different hard ciders,” Seago said. “We will also have 10 rare and hard-to-find beers that will be tapped on a staggered schedule to give people a chance to sample beers that are unique.”

And, yes, there will be beer from the barrel.

“We have procured a barrel of Goose Island’s Bourbon County Stout, which we will infuse with unique ingredients such as coffee or vanilla through a special flavor-enhancing device called a Randall,” Seago said.

As for live entertainment, rock cover band Dirty Ernie and Four Star Brass Band, a Chicago-based New Orleans-style group, will perform.

A portion of the proceeds from the festival will benefit Naper Settlement and the Naperville Heritage Society.

While VIP tickets for the event already are sold out, general admission tickets are $45 online or $50 at the gate and include 15 drink tickets, a commemorative festival sampling glass and program guide. Each drink ticket can be exchanged for a 3-ounce beer sample. Additional drink samples are 50 cents per ticket, limited to 10 tickets for a total of 30 ounces.

“We encourage our guests to have fun but also to be safe,” Seago said. “We ask guests to have a designated driver or use a cab service after the event.”

Designated-driver tickets are $15 online or $20 at the gate and include a festival glass, soda and water as well as a program guide. Designated drivers are not allowed to sample beer.

For more information, visit

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Jul 14, 2014
Freddie Kitson

Canned craft beers, dinner, beer festivals coming up

A lot is going on in the craft brew scene in Rochester:

Rohrbach Brewing Co.‘s Scotch Ale and Vanilla Porter cans are available in four-packs at the Rohrbach Brewpub, 3859 Buffalo Road in Ogden, and at the 99 Railroad St. brewery near the Rochester Public Market. The brewery says that Highland Lager and Railroad St. IPA will be coming soon and that the cans will be available in some stores, too.

Rohrbach also will hold a food and beer pairing July 29. A tour will begin at 6 p.m. at the Ogden brewpub, followed by a four-course dinner on the patio. The menu, created by new chef Steve Palermo, includes strawberry salad and peach balsamic pork or salmon, and the cost is $25, not including tip. Tickets will be sold only in advance; call (585) 594-9800, ext. 3.

Lock 32 Brewing Co, at 10 Schoen Place in Pittsford has released its first seasonal beer, Goldy-Lock Summer Ale. The site, which also serves other New York beers, was packed when my former co-worker Jane Sutter stopped by last month during one of the Friday concerts on the canal, and it’s also been holding World Cup watch parties. Its summer hours are longer and it’s now open seven days a week.

Roc Brewing Co. is planning a shuffleboard tournament. It’s limited to 32 teams of two, and play starts July 21. Sign up at the brewery, 56 S. Union St.

The VB Brewery is serving German meals on Fridays the rest of this month. For $10, get a choice of hots, brats or Polish sausage, sauerkraut, German potato or mac salad and rye bread. The brewery is at 6606 State Route 96, Victor, Ontario County.

Three Heads Brewingwill launch its next India Pale Ale in what it calls its Kind family in August with two events. It says Tropical Kind, a double India Pale Ale, will have “hundreds of pounds of mango and passion fruit.”

The first week of August, MacGregor’s will have a weeklong special featuring all four Kind beers, including Kind, Too Kind and Tre Kind. (Kind, Check Three Heads’ Facebook page for details.

On Aug. 2, the brewery will throw its first Park Ave Fest After Party at Blu Wolf Bistro, 657 Park Ave.

Three Heads also will participate in a Brewers Dinner at Blu Wolf from 7 to 8:30 p.m. July 28. Tickets cost $35 and include four large tasting plates paired with four of Three Heads best beers. For reservations, email with your name and number in your party.

Fairport Brewing Co., 99 S. Main St., and Nedloh Brewing Co. in Ontario County are busy getting ready for their first August festivals.

The Farm Brewers Festival will be held Aug. 2 in the Box Factory parking lot on the Erie Canal. The brewery also will participate in an Aug. 14 event marking the 100th anniversary of Fairport’s Lift Bridge on Aug. 14.

Nedloh’s HopsFest (also sometimes called HopsFestNY) will be Aug. 9-10 at its site at 6621 State Routes 5 20, East Bloomfield. Educational seminars will give tips on crafting great beers, growing hops, home brewing and pairing beer with food, and Nedloh and other local breweries will offer tastings. A food truck rodeo and a Big Green Egg Grill chef cook-off are planned.

Nedloh also donated $5,000 to the flood-damaged Camp Good Days and Special Times.

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