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Apr 14, 2014
Freddie Kitson

Ohio brewers talk about winning World Beer Cup medals

Here’s what Ohio brewers had to say about winning medals at the World Beer Cup last week:

Fat Head’s Brewery: When Matt Cole first started brewing, he watched as some of the same brewers won medal after medal year after year.

He’s now one of those decorated brewers.

Since 2009, Fat Head’s, which has a brewpub in North Olmsted and a production brewery and tasting room in Middleburg Heights, has won 12 medals at the World Beer Cup and Great American Beer Festival. (That’s not even counting his awards when he was brewing at Rocky River Brewing Co.)

“You wonder how the hell they do it?” Cole said about the perennial winners. “And now it’s kind of weird to be that guy. We’re making a name for ourselves, definitely on the West Coast, as far as hoppy beers go.”

His latest wins at the World Beer Cup are silver medals for Head Hunter IPA and Bonehead, an imperial red ale. Head Hunter won in the most competitive category, American-style IPA, which had 223 entries. Most craft fans — at least IPA lovers who haven’t been living under a rock — know about Head Hunter, which also won a silver medal at the World Beer Cup in 2012 and has picked up a silver and bronze at the GABF.

Bonehead is lesser known.

“I’ve been playing around with that one for quite a bit recently,” Cole said. “I’ve been on a mission to try to master that style. It’s another one of those hop forward beers that, you know, is a tough balance. You have to find the right amount of sweetness that’s not overly sticky and cloying, but has an assertive hop presence that melds well together. It’s a pretty strong beer so that throws in another curve ball.”

Unfortunately, Bonehead has sold out. But Cole said it will return.

———————————————————————————-

Willoughby Brewing: Peanut Butter Cup Coffee Porter seems to end up on everybody’s list of weird beers.

Not that weird means bad. Actually, in this case, it’s the opposite.

It’s a beer that craft drinkers crave and generates a ton of buzz at festivals. But in the future, any description about it being weird should come secondary. Peanut Butter Cup Coffee Porter is now a World Beer Cup gold medal winner. It won in the specialty beer category.

“It’s a lot of hard work come to fruition,” brewmaster Rick Seibt said. “I can’t even begin to put it in words. I really can’t. I don’t want to say it legitimizes what we do because we see customers drink the beer here and they’re happy and they rave about it, and that’s enough. But it still feels pretty damn good. We are excited. We are so excited.”

It’s also the first time that the Willoughby brewpub has won a gold medal at the World Beer Cup or Great American Beer Festival.

Seibt was meeting with the Willoughby brewpub ownership this week to talk about how to better market Peanut Butter Cup Coffee Porter.

“We’re going to make hay with this thing,” he said.

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Columbus Brewing: Eric Bean knows what to do at the next major beer awards ceremony. Don’t attend.

Bean, who was in Denver for the Craft Brewers Conference, was sitting at the Falling Rock Taphouse watching a live stream of the World Beer Cup ceremony.

That’s how he learned Uncle Rusty won a gold medal in the imperial red ale category.

“We couldn’t get tickets and I didn’t push to get in,” Bean said. “Of course, that means we can never go to an awards ceremony again, right? That’s our new good luck — not being there.”

The Columbus brewery makes Uncle Rusty only once or twice a year. It’s out in the market now on draft.

“It has a huge malt presence that’s balanced out by a significant hop charge,” Bean said.

—————————————————————————

Thirsty Dog Brewing: Siberian Night Imperial Stout has a pretty good pedigree, having won three medals, including a gold, at the Great American Beer Festival over the years.
But the beer has been shut out since its last big win in 2006.

Now, it’s a winner again — thanks to bourbon barrel aging. The Akron brewery released a bourbon barrel-aged version in bottles last year and it was an instant hit with craft drinkers.

World Beer Cup judges liked it, too. The beer won a bronze medal in the wood- and barrel-aged strong beer category.

“It’s always an honor to win any award that’s through the Brewers Association, whether it’s the GABF or World Beer Cup,” co-owner John Najeway said. “There’s close to 5,000 entries so that was huge. And to get it for one of our new beers, bourbon barrel-aged Siberian, that came out in bottles in 2013 says kudos to our entire staff of brewers and cellar guys that put it out.”

The beer is available now in bottles at retailers and on draft at the brewery tasting room.

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Apr 14, 2014
Freddie Kitson

Brewfest serves up large selection

PHOTO GALLERY: Classic City Brew Fest

PHOTO GALLERY: Classic City Brew Fest



Posted: Monday, April 14, 2014 2:00 pm
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Updated: 2:27 pm, Mon Apr 14, 2014.

Brewfest serves up large selection

Andrew Blank @redandblack

RedAndBlack.com

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For the 19th straight year, Classic City Brewfest provided the beer lovers of Athens with a diverse tour of both regional and world craft beers.


Diverse doesn’t quite do the beer selection justice, as more than 350 different brews were available. It’s easy to be overwhelmed with the choices in just the first room, let alone the entire festival.

The tour started in The Melting Point with a ground floor full of beer options and pleasant live music being played by the band “Playing on the Planet”. They call their style “Cosmic Rockin’ Boogie Music”. Who would want to argue with that description? The music fit the fun and friendly atmosphere.

The beer just kept flowing after the first room, with three more halls filled with options. There were IPA’s, Golden Ales, Summer Ales, and more. Many Georgia breweries were present, including Athens favorites like Copper Creek and Terrapin. A newcomer was Creature Comforts Brewery, featuring some of their new brews. Creature Comforts will open for tours at the end of this month, and it was great to get to sample what they had to offer. They had a citrus IPA that was particularly tasty.

The final stop of the tour was the cask ale pavilion. Cask ales are brewed differently than normal beer. The cask is sealed during the entire process, with a serving tap hammered in for tasting. A ballot was given out to everyone at the festival to pick their favorite cask ale. The Terrapin Golden Apple Pie was my favorite of these. No one could actually try every beer at the festival, nor should they attempt to.

It is important to note again just how great the atmosphere of the event was. It didn’t matter how much you knew about beer, all the vendors were very friendly. Also, no one seemed to be acting out in an overly intoxicated manner. The event was crowded, but not to the point that it became difficult to get to sample the beer. There was plenty of security as well.

The $40 price point may seem a little steep, but for a beer enthusiast it’s difficult not to recommend this event. This is truly a tasting, not a place to just get drunk with your friends. With that in mind, the targeted audience shouldn’t think twice about the $40. There are probably no larger selections of beer in the south.

Dubbed one of the top 10 US beer festivals by both Beerinfo.com and AmericasBestOnline, Classic City Brewfest did not fail to deliver. It’s hard to imagine that any beer lover wouldn’t find something to like.

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Apr 14, 2014
Freddie Kitson

Niagara beer market booming

Call it invasion of the craft brewers.

If anyone was looking for a reason to believe Niagara is a booming destination for the growing craft-beer movement, they should look at the April calendar.

There are no fewer than three craft-beer festivals this month in the region.

The Scotiabank Convention Centre in Niagara Falls hosted the inaugural Real Canadian Craft Beer Festival April 5 and Niagara College’s campus in Niagara-on-the-Lake hosted its first Craft Beer and BBQ Festival Saturday.

Next up: The Albino Rhino Craft Beer Festival at the Sanctuary Centre for the Arts in Ridgeway Saturday.

With a handful of craft breweries in the peninsula, including a teaching brewery at Niagara College, the festival will focus on local beer.

“Microbreweries are popping up across the whole province — it seems like there are new ones every day,” said Cian MacNeill, one of the owners of Niagara Oast House Brewers in Niagara-on-the-Lake.

“When you look at Niagara, it’s sort of changing from being wine centric into the whole gourmet aspect of restaurants and beer. It’s becoming a real kind of destination for the whole package.”

Oast has been around for a little more than a year, providing beers, tours, tastings and special events at its Niagara Stone Rd. location.

It was named one of the top five most exciting breweries in and around the Greater Toronto Area by Toronto Life and was also named the second best brewery to explore in Ontario, behind only Steam Whistle, by Chill magazine.

MacNeill, who is also the marketing manager for the business, said craft brewers are community minded and enjoy taking part in such festivals as a way to promote one another.

Oast has been part of the first two festivals of the month and plans to be part of the one this weekend.

MacNeill said the festival in Niagara Falls was sold out and, at one point, the wait to get in was two hours.

“It was a pretty big turn out, especially for a first-time event.”

He said flourishing bars and restaurants include craft beers in their alcoholic menus and people, now more than ever, are willing to try different styles of beer.

“The misconceptions and stereotypes are eroding. People are starting to really see how well beer can be paired with food. You’re starting to see premium craft beer alongside specialty dishes where you would usually have seen a wine glass.”

Craig Youdale, dean of the Canadian Food and Wine Institute at Niagara College, said craft beer is especially popular among the younger generation.

He said the brewmaster program at Niagara College, which has been around for three years, has “exploded” in popularity.

“We have hundreds of applicants for dozens of spots,” said Youdale. “We’ve had a wait list since we began. We have more on our waiting list than students.”

The program currently has 43 first and second-year students. Enrolment will be increased to 56 over the next year, he said.

Niagara College brewmaster Jon Downing said there are three or four more breweries planning to open in the near future. It coincides nicely with the college, which is the only fully licensed teaching brewery in Canada.

Downing came to Niagara in the 1980s and opened the first brew pub in Ontario at the old Atlas Hotel in Welland.

“It’s nice to see how (craft beer) has evolved and grown over the years,” he said.

ray.spiteri@sunmedia.ca

What: Inaugural Albino Rhino Craft Beer Festival

When: Saturday, April 19, noon-7 p.m.

Where: Sanctuary Centre for the Arts, 209 Ridge Rd. N, Ridgeway

Tickets: www.ticketscene.ca $15 advance, $20 at the door

Monday, April 14, 2014

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Apr 13, 2014
Freddie Kitson

Run for the Booty, stay for the beer

Tony Casey

Press Staff Writer
tcasey@johnsoncitypress.com
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April 12th, 2014 9:28 pm by Tony Casey


It was estimated that approximately 500 people took part in ETSU’s Run for the Booty 5K on Saturday. (Photos by Dave Boyd/Johnson City Press)



It’s never too early in the day to start twerking.

Before Saturday morning’s Run for the Booty 5K color run on East Tennessee State University’s campus, instructors from Peak Fitness took the stage to warm up the crowd of color runners with some fitness twerking. And the warm-up appeared to work for the several hundred participants who shot out from the starting line as a cannon blasted, then wound through ETSU’s campus, getting hit with corn starch-based colored powder along the way.

Jayme Gregory had thrown the powder before and she was well prepared for the runners as they came around her spot to the east of the Mini Dome. With the help of Jordan and Linda Skeen, they formulated locations on both sides of where the runners would pass to cover them with orange-, blue-, yellow- and purple-colored powder.

“I try not to get it in their eyes and just throw it up in the air and let them run through it,” Gregory said.

The army of white T-shirts would not stay white for very long.

Had siblings Lyle and Kelby Marston, students at ETSU, not been wearing sunglasses, their eye shade might have resulted in the same shade as their skin — bright orange. They were in the running as the most colored of anyone in attendance, with their clothes and bodies representing many colors of the rainbow.

Kelby Marston was proud of the orange and all the other colors on her body, which went along well with the day’s later event, the 3rd Annual Thirsty Orange Brew Extravaganza.

“My skin looks tie-died,” she said. “I look like an alien.”

Race director Karen Hubbs said the numbers weren’t immediately available, but it looks like there were about 500 people taking part in the event that will send part of the profits to ETSU’s blossoming football program and Johnson City Schools taking part in the event. As far as all the color in the run, Hubbs gave the nod to the men.

“It’s looks like the men got more colored than the women,” Hubbs said after the race.

Just before the finish line, runners ran across the walkway above State of Franklin Road, something unique compared to other races in the area. Just beyond the walkway was the fenced-off section used by the Thirsty Orange Brew Extravaganza, next to the Millennium Centre.

Dozens of brewers from across the region were on hand to pass out suds to around 2,500 people. The third installment of the event drew around 800 more people than the previous year, event organizer Stephanie Carson said.

“These brewers have fought hard for their businesses,” Carson said. “They’re really smart, passionate people.”

Carson and organizers asked the brewers to brings something unique along with, of course, their flagship beers. The fun spread over to the Carnegie Hotel, which was packed with reservations for those unwilling to drink and drive and looking for a convenient place to stay the night.

Events like the Brew Extravaganza, she said, will help put pressure on the region to come up with more beer-producing businesses.

When she went before the City Commission to finalize plans to bring the event to the Millennium Centre, Carson said Johnson City Mayor Ralph Van Brocklin asked her to bring with her from Asheville, N.C., that beer boom that they’ve had over the state line.

She said she considered that a good sign for local beer lovers, to have the mayor in their corner in regard to potential breweries. She also said the state needs to re-evalutate its beer-related laws to better support these blossoming small busineses.

One of those regional brewers, Drake Scott, from Wolf Hills Brewing Co. in Abingdon, Va., was on hand to hand out some of his best brews. He takes pride in bringing his best stuff to beer festivals like this one.

“It gives us that mass exposure and gives people a chance to talk to the brewer, so I can tell them all about it,” Scott said.

Tapping into the Johnson City campus scene will be great for local brewers, said Carson, who thinks it’s clear how good a decision it was to move from the event’s previous location at Mellow Mushroom to the open grass next to the Millennium Centre.

One shouldn’t just drink beer, though, said Stormy Fryar of Asheville’s Beer City Hoopers, a group of girls who use hula hooping as way to stay fit and enjoy the festival atmosphere.

“Beer makes you feel better,” Fryar said. “But hooping prevents beer bellies.”

She and the group’s founder, Katherine Erhlichman, were spinning in the sun next to the beer tents, taking part in the beer sampling between their twirling tricks with the hoops. She said most of the members of the group are in school and having fun with hula hoops on the weekends and were at the event for the second year in a row.

Follow Tony Casey on Twitter @TonyCaseyJCP. Like him on Facebook at www.facebook.com/tonycaseyjournalist.




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Apr 12, 2014
Freddie Kitson

Slater’s 50/50 opens Monday in San Marcos – U

— Slater’s 50/50, the 5-year-old restaurant chain built on the reputation of its signature burger — half ground beef, half ground bacon — will open its seventh restaurant Monday, April 14, in San Marcos.

Company president/founder Scott Slater bought the 7,000-square-foot building left vacant last year by Cool Hand Luke’s at 110 Knoll Road, revamped the interior, expanded the bar to 101 taps and added patio seating.

The 200-seat restaurant debuts alongside the company’s new menu, a mix of classic dishes like the 50/50 burger, mac ‘n’ cheese dishes, salads and sandwiches, and 11 new appetizers, chicken wings, sandwiches, burgers, salads and drinks.

In interviews last week, Slater and company Executive Chef Brad Lyons talked about their long friendship, the genesis of the 50/50 burger and what’s new with the company.

photo
Slater’s 50/50 President Scott Slater and Executive Chef Brad Lyons in the new San Marcos location.

— Matt Kragen

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Slater’s 50/50 President Scott Slater and Executive Chef Brad Lyons in the new San Marcos location.
/ Matt Kragen

Slater and Lyons first met as fraternity brothers at San Diego State, who frequently cooked burgers and dogs at Chargers tailgate parties. At one Sunday morning tailgate, Slater thought bacon would make a nice addition to a burger, so he hand-pressed an all-bacon patty that exploded in flames when it hit the grill. On his next try, he mixed the bacon with beef and the salty, smoky burger was an instant hit.

After college, Slater ran a mobile hot dog stand business and Lyons became a cruise ship chef. Then in 2009, Slater bought a shuttered bar in Anaheim Hills and called up his old friend Lyons and invited him to come and re-create the 50/50 burger as the centerpiece of the new restaurant/bar’s menu. Since then, locations have been added in Huntington Beach, Lake Forest, Pasadena, Rancho Cucamonga and (in 2011) Point Loma’s Liberty Station.

The restaurant’s burgers, made with corn-fed farm-raised premium Brandt Beef, come in 1/3 or 2/3 pound patty sizes (weighed after cooking) and a kooky and near-endless assortment of flavors. Options include the Peanut Butter Jellousy (yep, PBJ, with an a la mode option, that’s surprisingly good), new California Burrito Burger (with fries, guacamole, salsa and a carne asada patty), and new 50 Alarm burger, made with ghost peppers so hot that diners are playfully asked to wear gloves and sign a waiver.

Slater, an L.A. native who lives in downtown San Diego, said he’s been looking at North County locations for a long time and liked the restaurant space off San Marcos Boulevard because it’s centrally located and in the heart of North County’s microbrew community.

Company Beermonger Mark Schultz said the tap selections at the San Marcos location will change daily, but on Monday, there will be at least 20 local brews on tap, including beers from Stone, Prohibition, Latitude 33, Mother Earth, Belching Beaver, Barrel Harbor, Rip Current, Lost Abbey, Legacy, Pizza Port and Iron Fist.

photo
Slater’s 50/50 Beermonger Mark Schultz pulls a draft at the 101-tap bar in the new San Marcos location.

— Matt Kragen

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Slater’s 50/50 Beermonger Mark Schultz pulls a draft at the 101-tap bar in the new San Marcos location.
/ Matt Kragen

Schultz, a certified cicerone (the beer equivalent of a certified wine sommelier), said he’s planning to host beer dinners, beer flight nights, pint nights and beer festivals. He is also open to bringing in specialty beers by customer request.

Lyons, who lives in the Point Loma area, said he tries to update his menu about every six to eight months. New this spring are bacon poutine and shaved Brussels sprouts appetizers as well as deconstructed guacamole (an avocado salad with pickled red onions, roasted corn and tomatoes and a tangy lime dressing). There are five varieties of wings (including Dr. Pepper and Thai Sriracha), a chipotle kale salad and a turkey leg French dip sandwich served caveman-style with a turkey leg bone on the plate and a bowl of pan-drippings sauce for dipping. Also for spring, there’s a new line of mule cocktails made with ginger beer.

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The Deconstructed Guacamole appetizer is new on the menu this spring at Slater’s 50/50.

— Matt Kragen

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The Deconstructed Guacamole appetizer is new on the menu this spring at Slater’s 50/50.
/ Matt Kragen

What’s next for the company? Slater, who is sole owner and has no plans to franchise, has plans to take Slater’s national. He’s also cooking up an (almost) entirely different restaurant concept for later this year, but for now he’s focused on getting the doors open in San Marcos.

Slater’s 50/50, 110 Knoll Rd, San Marcos, CA. Hours: 11 a.m. to midnight. (760) 759-2900.

pam.kragen@utsandiego.com

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Apr 11, 2014
Freddie Kitson

Nate Byrnes – Good Brew Hunting: Judging homebrews isn’t as easy as it sounds

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Judging a homebrew is a fascinating experience. It’s fun, challenging, and ultimately quite rewarding. It allows one to really get into the nitty gritty of beer, a process that ultimately makes one a more aware and adept beer drinker.

This past weekend I was honored to be a beer judge for the fourth annual Ocean State Homebrew Competition, held at Johnson Wales University and sponsored by JbreW. I spent Saturday helping out with logistics and Sunday judging in the front, which gave me different perspectives into such a big event.

Some might think beer judging is a dream come true, and it IS great, but I wasn’t able to just enjoy beers and write a grade. We rate the beers on five categories: aroma, appearance, flavor, mouthfeel, and overall impression (detailed in my July 4 column — link to it here if you’d like http://goodbrewhunting.com/the-many-aspects-of-beer-flavor/). A good judge will also then write comments for why they gave the score they gave for each section. It can be tough to be critical while remaining positive, and it’s quite the challenge to come up with different ways to say “hoppy” after one’s 10th IPA.

A big contest like Ocean State requires more volunteers than a bake sale at a southern megachurch. Nearly 40 judges worked over the two days to taste all 311 entries (placed into 28 categories). There were also 25 stewards who brought all the beers to the judges and tallied the scores, six staff, and more than 40 student volunteers and chefs to prepare meals for the crew.

I helped judge the “Spice/Herb/Vegetable Beer” category, which was an adventure. Beers ranged from an American wheat with cucumber to an IPA brewed with coconut to an oatmeal stout with vodka and vanilla beans. Only one of the six beers I tasted was poor, and I really enjoyed the various flavors.

The process is relatively simple: pour a small amount into a cup, smell it, examine it, taste it, repeat. Judges then discuss the beer, noting if it’s true to its style, picking up on any of the potential off-flavors that might detract from the brew, and talking about what stood out about the beer. Everyone then writes down their comments, puts scores in each category and tallies them (maximum of 50). The judges’ scores are then averaged.

Each rating category has a different weight. In order: Appearance is worth 3 points, Mouthfeel is 5, Overall Impression is 10, Aroma is 12, and Flavor is 20. All but one beer in my group earned a 31 to 40 score, with our “Mini Best-in-Show” going to the really excellent coconut IPA.

After each of the 28 categories have a best beer, the highest-ranked judges (a topic for another column) taste all 28 winners and declare best-in-show for beers, ciders, and meads. At a big contest like OSHC, it takes two full days to winnow the field down to the winners, and those that earn the top spot have been better vetted than a presidential candidate.

Beer events

The 8th Annual Great International Spring Beer Festival will be held this weekend – April 12th from 1-4:30 and 6:30-10. There will be over 250 brews available to sample at the Rhode Island Convention Center. Tickets are $44 http://www.beerfestamerica.com/

The 3rd Annual Newport Craft Beer Festival will hold two sessions on April 26th. It’s a great chance to try every RI brewery and a bunch of others. Tickets are $45.

The big boy of New England beer festivals, the American Craft Beer Fest, will take place in Boston at the Seaport World Trade Center in three sessions on May 30 and 31. There will over 140 brewers there, including quite a few that aren’t available here. Tickets are $51.10 after fees, and are well worth it. Mrs. Hunting and I wouldn’t miss it and will be at the Saturday afternoon session. http://www.beeradvocate.com/acbf/

All former Good Brew Hunting columns are now available online at www.goodbrewhunting.com. I really appreciate feedback! Hit me with ideas for beers, events, or breweries at www.facebook.com/GoodBrewHunting or via email at goodbrewhunting@gmail.com.

Nate lives in Westport with his wife, two kids, pets, a basement fridge full of local craft beer, and assortment of bottles/kegs/carboys of homebrew at various states of completion.


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Apr 10, 2014
Freddie Kitson

It’s all about the beer

The warmer weather is slowly making its way back to our area, and with that we begin the beer festival celebrations. This year, we kick off the beer festival season with the inaugural Beer Geek Festival, happening April 12 from 3 to 7 p.m. inside the Slocum Hollow Lodge on Montage Mountain.

While there is no shortage of beer festivals occurring this year, in the end it all comes down to the beer. Is it simply a fest that will be full of beer that is available year-round on store shelves, or is it going to be full of rare beer that is not available anywhere else?

If you are looking for new and exciting beers that you can’t get elsewhere, then the Beer Geek Festival is for you. Despite it being the first year this fest is taking place, it has already amassed quite the brewery and beer lineup.

Breweries such as Deschutes Brewery, which is not even available in our area yet, will be attending and bringing some of its most sought-after beers with Black Butte Porter, Mirror Pond Pale Ale, and Fresh Squeezed IPA.

While breweries such as Tröegs Brewing Company will be bringing some of its more well-known beers, such as Nugget Nectar and Cultivator, the brewery has also brewed a unique one-off beer just for the festival.

Stone Brewing Co. will also be in attendance and is bringing along a very rare beer, Reason Be Damned, a Belgian Abbey Ale style brew aged in a red wine barrel. Stone is also bringing along its highly desirable Enjoy By 4/20/14 IPA, an extremely fresh and hoppy double IPA.

If none of this has made you drool yet, then keep reading, because Boulder Beer is also brewing a beer exclusively for the Beer Geek Fest. Founders Brewing will also be in attendance with its world class Porter and All Day IPA, along with something special.

Of course you cannot have a true craft beer festival without Dogfish Head in attendance, and the brewery is bringing along some standard as well as some rarer brews, such as American Beauty, Noble Rot, and 120 Minute IPA.

Another appearance at the fest is going to be made by BrewDog. The fantastic Scottish brewery is coming back to the area and is kicking this off with an appearance at the Beer Geek Fest with its amazing Punk IPA, 5 AM Saint, Libertine Black Ale, and Hardcore IPA.

Brewery Ommegang will also be in attendance and will be pouring some beer from its Game of Thrones series along with Gnomegang, Duvel Rustica, and Adoration.

The list of world-class breweries is seemingly endless: Chimay, Unibroue, Breaker Brewing Company, 3 Guys a Beer’d, Orval, Susquehanna Brewing Company, Harpoon, and on and on.

For those who are truly fans of beer, this is the must-attend festival of the 2014 season.

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Apr 10, 2014
Freddie Kitson

Your guide to Spring Fling alternatives

If you’re not exactly Jay Sean’s No. 1 fan or want to escape the hordes of drunken GW students who will crowd University Yard on Saturday, there are plenty of other events outside Foggy Bottom to check out. Here are a few highlights from across the city.

MUSIC
In the mood to dance to something other than “Down?” You’re in luck. Swedish rock band The Sounds will headline the 9:30 Club on Saturday ($20, doors open at 5 p.m.). Having been on the road for the better part of the last 10 years, playing shows like Warped Tour, supporting Panic! and at the Disco and embarking their own world tour, The Sounds’ latest North American stint is in support of their newest album, “Weekend.”

In the mood for a gay dance party that isn’t at Town? Black Cat will host MIXTAPE, a monthly dance party featuring an eclectic mix of music genres ($10, doors at 9:30 p.m.). Washingtonian Magazine dubbed the event D.C.’s “Best Gay Dance Party.”

No way was Program Board going to book Daft Punk for Spring Fling. But if you pay $10 – and don’t actually need to see the famed robot duo – U Street Music Hall will host a Daft Punk tribute night with local DJs and producers Will Eastman and OZKER (doors at 10 p.m.)

BEER
If you’re 21 or older and have some cash to spare, you can enjoy a more sophisticated boozy festival Saturday. Head to Nationals Parks, D.C.’s best springtime venue, for the second annual D.C. Beer Festival.

The event – the second in a lineup of four spring beer festivals – will feature 60 craft breweries, 120 beers, games, music and food. It’s no Bacon and Beer fest (the Penn Social event sold out within weeks), but the park will offer food sold separately from the ticket. Look forward to tasting local, regional, and rare national brews.

Admission to the festival is $40. You can choose from one of two sessions: 1 to 4 p.m. or 6 to 9 p.m. Buy tickets here.

CHERRY BLOSSOMS
Start the Spring Fling revelry early by watching the National Cherry Blossom Festival Parade Saturday morning. Jay Sean will make an early performance at the festival before heading over to Foggy Bottom for Spring Fling.

The lineup includes more talent than just ‘90s heartthrob Aaron Carter. “American Idol” champ Candice Glover is set to perform alongside Grammy award-winning singer Sheena Easton.

But, aside from some big throwback names, this year’s festival also included the first annual “Sing Into Spring Competition,” which searched for local artists to perform in the parade. The GW Vibes is one of five acts chosen from the competition, along with Reverb, an award-winning a capella group, and eight-year-old singer Kelvin Dukes.

The parade on Constitution Avenue between Seventh and 17th streets will start at 10 a.m. Spectators can stand on the sidewalk along the parade route between Ninth and 15th streets for free. Grandstand seating prices start at $20.

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