Browsing articles in "beer festivals"
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 www.wheatonbrewfest.com.

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 NapervilleAleFest.com.

triblocaltips@tribune.com

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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 jason@bluwolfbistro.com 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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Jul 13, 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 Saturday afternoon in downtown Oshawa.

“Not a bad event, eh,” is how organizer Darryl Koster described the scene. “There’s a nice line-up 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 it’s first beer festival. We got it going.”

When people entered, they were given a five-ounce glass that brewers would fill. After finishing the glass, there were water stations where the glass could be cleaned out before being refilled.

As 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,” he said.

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 were also taking part in a beer festival 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 line-up for it’s 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 line-up 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 13, 2014
Freddie Kitson

Flagstaff’s Iconic 50: Craft beer flows through Flagstaff

Flagstaff has grown into a solid, cannot-be-denied beer town. In the last decade, microbrewed craft beer has flourished into a major industry with seven breweries in town that create award-winning beer that has put our town on the sudsy map.

Among the breweries are the originals: Flagstaff Brewing Co. and Beaver Street Brewery. Both also serve up famous for — such as poutine for the former and soft — baked pretzels for the latter-and up the ante for great staples and limited editions.

Joining their ranks are Beaver Street’s sister pub Lumberyard Brewing (with its Red Ale in the can) and Historic Brewing Company, which is bowling over beer aficionados. Mother Road has already turned into a classic after becoming part of the Southside renaissance.

That does not count Wanderlust and Cosmic, rounding out the seven microbreweries that have made us a Southwest banner of brew.

The breweries themselves are not the only thing adding to the scene. Flagstaff has become home to several beer festivals, including one of the longer running beer festivals known as Made in the Shade.

Flagstaff also has seen its share of pint-hoisting with its Flagstaff-Grand Canyon Ale Trail, where participants travel from pub to pub with a signature glass to get a taste of what the region has to offer.

There also is the Alpine Peddler, where parties of people use pedal power in a giant canopied contraption to get from bar to bar without having to get in a car. And the Peddler has plenty to choose from, as Flagstaff has added several new taverns and does not seem to show any sign of stopping.

So, Flagstaff has some iconic good taste with top-notch beers — and always ready to hoist the pint.

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Jul 12, 2014
Freddie Kitson

Arizona beer or Arizona wine? Why not mix both?

In the ever-growing craft-brewing industry, Arizonans are now getting a chance to mix their beer with their wine.

On July 19, the Arizona Craft Brewers Guild will hold its first Real, Wild and Woody Beer Festival, featuring specialty beers aged in wooden casks and barrels. Among those will be beers born from Arizona wine barrels.

One offering comes from Chandler’s SanTan Brewing Company, which will unveil two new beer-wine offerings in a style called saison. It’s a collaboration with Sonoita’s Dos Cabezas Wineworks.

“They came to me about a year ago and we shot around some ideas for this new drink,” said Todd Bostock, a winemaker at Dos Cabezas. “I’ve always had fun fermenting stuff and I’m a big beer fan, so this was a neat chance for me to get a glimpse into their world.”

Their first creation is an oak-aged saison Di Aleatico, which SanTan says is a smooth saison with the quality and crispness of a sparkling wine. The second is aged in barrels that held Cabernet Franc. It’s supposed to be slightly sour with both beer and wine qualities.

The festival is already sold out. But SanTan will be pouring the beers at its Chandler brewpub until supplies run out.

This isn’t the first time an Arizona winery and brewery have collaborated.

Jonathan Buford, owner of the Arizona Wilderness Brewing Co. in Gilbert, came together with Callaghan Vineyards from Elgin last year to create a barley wine for his tasting menu.

“That one is long gone — hugely popular,” said Buford. “We’ve done 17 collaborations for our brewery and more and more breweries and catching on what we’re trying to do, which is an effort to stay local.”

The continuing trend of local collaborations has led brewmasters like Buford to local farms, growers — even local bees.

“Not long ago we were up and the Bee Dudes apiary in Queen Creek,” said Buford. “We needed honey for our beer and people like the local product so Bee Dudes is where we went.”

For the Real, Wild and Woody Beer festival, many wooden cask-aged beers will be on tap.

“The rapid rise of craft beer has brought with it a welcomed influx of beer festivals,” said Rob Fullmer executive director of the Arizona Craft Brewers Guild, in a public statement. “However, Real, Wild and Woody offers something a little different. This is an event that only our state brewers could bring to Arizona.”

Buford stresses that many of the breweries have already had the chance to work in collaboration projects.

“Craft beer is about community and generating excitement,” said Buford. “We’re a brotherhood because we’re all just happy to be here.”

Even the wineries feel the benefits. Bostock already has plans to make it back to SanTan soon and try the finished product that he helped create.

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Jul 12, 2014
Freddie Kitson

Milwaukee couple’s Plan B: Keeping craft beer spirit alive

Pembine — The entrance would be easy to miss if it weren’t for the loud hum from the air conditioner. Or it could be the bug zapper working overtime.

Inside the Lincoln-log brewhaus, hungry yeast bubble in one of three small plastic fermenters. On the other side of the wall, a laconic Husky named Howler lays claim to the dog bed.

Howler is one of the faces of Black Husky Brewing Co., which makes popular ales such as Sproose II (an India pale ale) and Black Husky Pale Ale. Former Milwaukee residents Tim and Toni Eichinger own the brewery that is anchored in heavy woods an hour north of Green Bay. The company theme is “rarely balanced, never boring.”

In the realm of post-career, because-you-love-it jobs, running a brewery up north might be at the top of a Wisconsinite’s list. Go ahead, if you’ve got the stamina for it. This Plan B requires 12-hour days, the occasional snake sighting in the kitchen and hundreds of miles of travel each week.

“Running a brewery is not a glamorous job,” Tim says on the website. “Your groupies aren’t girls in bikinis. They are fat, short, bald guys like me.”

Black Husky started as many craft breweries do. “I was home brewing. I had seven beers going at a time. People would come over,” said Tim, who is Black Husky’s chief cook, bottle sanitizer and deliveryman.

Four years ago, Black Husky became official and now produces 240 barrels of beer annually. Tim and Toni, who live in the house just past the brewhaus, are the only employees.

For comparison’s sake, MillerCoors in Milwaukee produces 10 million barrels of beer each year and employs 720 people.

But don’t expect to see the inner workings of Black Husky. The Eichingers held tours for a while, but “there was always some guy spitting out his beer,” Tim said. “It was like someone slapping your baby.”

Toni telecommutes as a human resources consultant for a Milwaukee company 30 hours a week “to keep them insured,” she said. She scaled back her hours in May. Tim, who spent much of his career as building and grounds supervisor for the School Sisters of Notre Dame, quit his full-time job in 2012.

‘The last bastion’

In the beer world, Tim has a cult following worthy of a rock star.

His sometimes profane, sometimes cranky straight talk and swagger add to the Black Husky mythology — which includes the true and oft-told story of going out to the Pembine woods to get tips off the spruce trees for the flagship Sproose II brew, which smells and tastes of the tree’s needles.

Tim is “the last bastion of the original craft beer spirit,” said Rob Zellermayer, a bartender at Sugar Maple, 441 E. Lincoln Ave. The Eichingers have a story — from the dozens of sled dogs they’ve rescued to Tim’s aggressive use of hops — and it’s “manifested in the beer,” Zellermayer said.

The beer is popular enough that although Sugar Maple boasts 62 rotating taps for craft beer, one tap is always dedicated to Sproose.

“They do it exactly their way and make no compromises,” Zellermayer said.

Working-class roots

The Eichingers met at Greendale Baptist Church School and married a month after graduating in 1980. Tim said he and Toni had much in common. Both had fathers who served in World War II. Both were from large working-class families. Tim’s dad was a welder; Toni’s dad was a security guard.

And they both came from “extremely religious families” where alcohol was prohibited.

Setting the brewhaus table with bread, vegetables, cheese, fruits and Glorioso’s sausage for lunch, Toni remembers that they bought their first bottle of wine on their honeymoon and had to sneak it into the house they shared with Tim’s parents.

At the table, Toni, a vegetarian with long curly hair, slides chunks of cantaloupe to Howler. He’s one of eight Huskies the Eichingers care for on the property, many of them rescue dogs.

Tim recently lost 60 pounds and is training for a half-marathon. He grabs a pitcher of fresh Sproose II from a keg and switches the music from opera to Irish rebel band the Wolfe Tones, the kind of music he claims will get you on the no-fly list.

He follows that by pouring glasses of an unnamed Imperial stout, a beer that has been barrel-aging since March 2013 and hasn’t yet been released. It smells of bourbon but tastes smooth with a hint of caramel and maybe chocolate.

“I’m not really a beer snob,” Tim said, admitting to downing an Old Milwaukee at the Roman Coin when he’s delivering his product in Milwaukee.

Keeping things in control

The brewhaus was intended to be a home for their son, Jake, a musher who needed to live with his dogs, when he was a student at the University of Minnesota in Duluth. When that didn’t work out, Tim tried to sell the building. And when that didn’t work out, Tim blurted an expletive and moved it closer on the property.

It’s also a testament to the couple’s working-class roots.

While some breweries have separate rooms for the different stages of brewing, Tim made dollies for the fermenters so that during the heated-mash-tun stage he can slide them into the adjoining room with a cooler temperature. He shows off the storage room he built and where he crushes malts using a home brewer’s mill jury-rigged to an electric drill. He and Toni fill bottles with tubing that cost $70. They label the beers themselves.

The Eichingers don’t answer to a board of directors or shareholders and don’t buy more equipment than they can afford.

“Things impact your decision when you’ve got a debt,” Tim said.

They keep things in their control from batch size to inventory. Kegs are marked so that if they’re out too long, Toni can get them back before they lose taste and freshness.

Toni says they typically bottle a day or two before Tim heads out for deliveries. “We don’t keep any bottle inventory,” she said.

Labels, all featuring Huskies, are designed not to draw attention to the bottle but “for us,” Toni said.

Everything on a personal level

Quality control is also personal. Tim recalled the time he sold a keg of beer, then tasted it to find it too bitter. He quickly replaced the bad keg but kept it at the brewhaus and drank from it “every night as a reminder.”

“When it comes down to it, it’s great beer,” said Erich Wilz, beverage manager for Wolf Peach, 1818 N. Hubbard St., where Black Husky has been on the menu for more than a year.

It was not an easy sale, but not for the reasons you might think.

“I felt like I was applying,” Wilz said. “He doesn’t want his beer places where it doesn’t fit.”

Zellermayer says Tim knows every bartender at Sugar Maple by name, a rarity among distributors. For Tim, delivery is a marketing strategy.

“Self-distribution is a pain in the ass, but you get to know the right people,” said Tim, who delivers to places in Madison, Milwaukee, Racine, Oshkosh and Sheboygan.

Tim or Toni represents Black Husky at beer festivals, such as the recent Wisconsin Beer Lovers Festival in Glendale. One of them has to stay home to give medication to the dogs — they’ve had up to 23, three more dogs than styles of beer in the repertoire.

What each style has in common is a bold ABV (alcohol by volume) content. Tim swears he will never produce a lager or a low-ABV session beer from the brand. Ever.

“Know who you are and do what you do best,” Tim said. “For us, part of it is about economics. We can only make so much beer here.”

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Jul 12, 2014
Freddie Kitson

Video: Greensboro’s craft beer festival was hopping Saturday

GREENSBORO — Hail beer!


Raise your glass to an event that has rapidly grown into one of Greensboro’s favorites.

Organizers expected about 4,000 people on Saturday to attend the Summertime Brews Festival, now in its 10th year, said Scott Johnson, deputy director of the Greensboro Coliseum Complex.

“It’s a very popular event with young people — with anyone who likes to have a good time,” Johnson said. “It’s a very interesting mix of people.”

The first festival was held in the Greensboro Grasshoppers’ baseball stadium in 2005, Johnson said. At the time, the festival drew about 2,000 people. But, it also was at the mercy of weather.

It moved to the 30,000-square-foot Pavilion the next year. However, it rapidly outgrew that venue and moved to the Coliseum’s 60,000-square-foot Special Event Center.

Even that can’t contain the beer festival. This year, the event has expanded outside the center.

“It just continued to take off,” Johnson said. “We were doing significant numbers of people. We also have more beers.”

Brewers from across the country provided more than 400 beers for sampling on Saturday. Anyone who bought a ticket to the festival received a commemorative etched sampling glass.

“You watch people gravitate toward beers they particularly like,” Johnson said. “They sample those regularly.”

One of the most popular booths — Wicked Weed Brewing, a brew-pub from Asheville. Minutes after Coliseum officials opened their doors to the public, consumers began lining up for some of the brewery’s “wild yeast” beers.

“We’ve had some great success with our beers,” said Ryan Guthy, one of the brewery’s five owners. “At Wicked Weed, true beer geeks can find beers they’re interested in. Our inspiration was Portland, Seattle, San Francisco — cities with a diversity of breweries.”

Ten years ago, when the festival was only an inkling about how to promote WKRR (92.3 FM), there were few beer festivals in North Carolina, said assistant program director Dave Aiken.

“We were looking for some non-traditional radio stuff,” Aiken said. “My boss said, ‘Why don’t you go research it?’”

Now, 110 breweries participate. The event has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for charities, Aiken said.

About 50 volunteers from one of those charities, Animal Rescue and Foster Program, walked through the crowds in the Coliseum Saturday, helping people where they could.

The rescue group takes in homeless animals and finds foster homes for them. The organization also provides follow-up services for the animals, said Executive Director Sharon Gray.

“This is a big fundraiser for us,” Gray said. “Right now we have about 65 animals in foster homes. This event will help provide food and medical care for the animals.”

Even with discounted rates from veterinarians, the organization spends about $40,000 per year on veterinary care for animals.

OK, about everybody at the event was there to sample beer. But, there were opportunities to see some interesting sights. Take the self-styled 1980s beer pong champion team — four men dressed in white ’80s-style tennis outfits and sporting curly long hair and mustaches — who said they are craft beer aficionados. They just dress up to add some fun to their event.

“We find a new favorite beer every year,” said one of the “champions,” Matt Bryson of Greensboro.

Lee DeVine, a representative for Stone Brewing Co., kept a tally of how many people asked him whether the California brewery was coming to Greensboro. He was not answering. City officials announced early this year that Greensboro is courting the company.

“As a consumer of our beer, the kid in me wants it to be in a place that’s close by,” DeVine, a Guilford College grad said. But he would not comment on the brewery’s interest in Greensboro.

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Jul 12, 2014
Freddie Kitson

The Top Five Beer Festivals

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Via Flickr/John Murden

Beer festivals are like pizza; even if they’re not great, they’re still great. But that said, some are better than others, and here are five of the best.

The American Craft Beer Festival

Held yearly in Boston, the ACBF is a convergence of brewers from across the country and offers everything from obscure microbrews to the rarer beers from larger brewers. Also, once you’re finished you’re out in one of the best beer cities on the East Coast.

Brewgrass

Asheville hosts a beer festival that logically combines beer and live music, specifically bluegrass, as you might have guessed. Running nearly twenty years, the show has offered the cream of the bluegrass scene and some of the best breweries in the Southeast.

Southern Brewer’s Festival

Don’t let the name fool you; this Chattanooga fest hosts not just the best brewers in the South, but also brewers from the North, the West Coast, and everywhere in between. Held by the Tennessee River, it’s a beautiful outdoor fest with some of the best variety of any fest.

World Beer Festival

Held quarterly, this is exactly what it sounds like: Beer from across the world, hosted in Cleveland, Durham, Raleigh, and Columbia. It’s also got some of the most adventurous food available at any beer fest: Forget pretzels and nachos, how about finding out what beer goes best with frog legs?

Brewmasters Craft Beer Festival

Essentially the preview of beer, this is where the guys who make the craft beer your drink go to try upcoming brews and talk about beer. It’s one of the most informative events about beer you can go to… and, yes, you can drink it too.

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