Browsing articles tagged with " beer festivals"
Aug 4, 2014
Freddie Kitson

Disney World for beer lovers: Sierra Nevada’s Beer Camp Across America event

Sierra Nevada is famous for its high quality and consistency. Over decades the company has established a legendary reputation by thinking ahead and troubleshooting any potential problem in advance. The brewers are masters of controlling every variable.

So perhaps it’s no surprise that when the company put on one of the largest beer festivals ever seen in our region on Sunday in Mills River, it was largely uneventful. A medical tent saw to any urgent issues. A mist tent cooled anyone overheated by the mid-80-degree heat. A live band with the spirit of a circus kept the energy up when folks started to flag. An army of Porta Potties and sinks took care of everyone’s needs. A fleet of food trucks kept the people well fed. And of course, there was plenty of beer.

KILLING IT: Calfkiller Brewing Company poured unique beers out of the tallest taphandles of the day.
KILLING IT: Calfkiller Brewing Company poured unique beers out of the tallest taphandles of the day. Photo by Thom O’Hearn

Those who were seeing the campus for the first time were impressed from the moment they arrived via chartered bus. (Sierra rented a large fleet to take the festival-goers from two drop points right into the heart of the brewery.) The winding approach was indeed something to behold with its meticulous landscaping. Touches like bigfoot footprints leading into the woods and copper-clad hop flowers on the winding stone road led one bus passenger to say he felt like he was at Disney.

The brewery itself was not open for public tours, but the large windows allowed at least a glimpse of the copper brewhouse. Throughout the day people caught shade underneath the large roof and peered in the windows.

All told, about 5,000 attendees sampled beers. While there was some disappointment about last-minute brewery cancellations — including Russian River, Firestone Walker and 3 Floyds — everyone seemed plenty content once they started tasting beers from the 100 or so breweries that made it.

Like festivals of a bygone era, many brewers’ booths were staffed with the brewery owners or brewers themselves. Standouts from out of town included Calfkiller Brewing, who brought a very Asheville-style vibe with their tie-dyed t-shirts, large tree-branch taphandles and beers with names like Wizard Sauce. Louisiana’s Great Raft, who both collaborated with Burial Beer on a helles and served two beers from their own stable, had some perfect hot-weather beers. And Morganton’s Fonta Flora likely won the line of the day with an ever-present 25-30 people waiting to try beers made with ingredients like carrots and salt.

Sierra Nevada’s tent was, of course, also quite a draw. They served the dozen Beer Camp Across America collaboration beers with the breweries that made them. And because it’s Sierra Nevada, you could also get a pour of Pale Ale or Torpedo IPA.

As the festival wound down, everyone took the chartered buses again, including a funky retired school bus or two. At the back of one bus, a couple of rowdy ladies were tickled by their gentleman companions. They screamed. Then they started yelling about gin drinks and what bar they should hit when the buses got back to town. It turns out that Sierra Nevada can’t control one thing about a beer festival: the people.

 

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Aug 2, 2014
Freddie Kitson

Council won’t target strong beer



Wellingtonians who like strong craft beer can breathe a sigh of relief – the city council isn’t clamping down on beer festivals, stronger beers or single bottle sales any time soon.

Beer aficionados in Auckland are grappling with the news that they may not be able to buy beer with an alcohol volume of more than 6 per cent at beer festivals or an hour before closing time.

Colin Mallon, manager of Courtenay Place beer bar The Malthouse, said the proposals in Auckland were a kneejerk reaction targeting single bottle ready-to-drink sales.

To Mallon, imposing restrictions on when licencees could serve different strengths of alcohol was completely unnecessary. “Our overriding requirement is to be responsible hosts,” he said.

“You’re either safe to be drinking alcohol or not. I’m not going to serve you a five per cent if you’re not in a good enough state for eight per cent.”

He said attempts to exclude craft beer from the restrictions would be fraught, because no one could agree on what constituted craft beer. “I’ve yet to come up with or have heard an absolute definition I’m comfortable with,” he said. “Too much of the focus is on craft beer. It should be on good beer, no matter how much they produce.”

Mallon said Wellington breweries, bars and beer drinkers were very fortunate to have such a beer friendly council. “Our mayor is a beer drinker too.”

Wellington City Council confirmed that Wellington’s provisional local alcohol policy does not have any specific conditions for special licenses, like those proposed for Auckland.

Council service development and improvement manager Jaime Dyhrberg said high-strength beers were not common in the types of premises or events likely to generate alcohol-related harm.

He said beer strength and single bottle issues did not rate highly as community concerns.

Community, sport and recreation committee chairman Paul Eagle said the council did not need to impose many conditions on beer festivals, such as Beervana, because organisers already had responsible host policies and set serving sizes.

“Auckland’s issues are not our problems. We are a can-do city,” he said. “We are a sophisticated, intelligent city and people are wanting to have a bit of a taste, to give it a go and support some local micro-breweries.”

Eagle, whose committee is responsible for liquor licensing issues, said the biggest alcohol issue facing Wellington was around harmful drinking behaviours, not beer strength.

Behaviours of particular concern were side-loading, meaning drinking alcohol purchased elsewhere while at a nightclub, and pre-loading, drinking heavily at home before heading to clubs or bars, he said.

– The Wellingtonian



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Aug 1, 2014
Freddie Kitson

Charlotte Oktoberfest vs. Charlotte Beerfest

I am pleased to announce that tickets to 16th annual Charlotte Oktoberfest went on sale today. This event will be held Sept. 27 at the N.C. Music Factory, the host for last year’s festival as well. As of this writing, over half of the VIP tickets have already been sold, costing $65 apiece (general admission $45). Over the last 16 years, this Carolina Brewmasters-run event has donated nearly $500,000 to local charitable organizations. This year’s charity benefactors include Classroom Central, Kids Rein, and Camp CARE.

I am also pleased to mention the first Charlotte Beerfest, taking place at BBT Ballpark on Sept. 20 — the week before Oktoberfest. VIP tickets to this event are $100 (general admission $50), with proceeds benefiting Grin Kids Children’s Charity and USO.

These beer festivals are two completely unrelated events, but there has been considerable confusion between the two (not to mention online animosity). Allow me to help to clear the air.

Oktoberfest has traditionally been a wonderful educational resource for beer drinkers. There is an overwhelming local presence at Oktoberfest, with regional and Charlotte-based breweries making it a point to attend each year. It would be easier to mention which Charlotte breweries aren’t attending Oktoberfest instead of list who are — as of this writing, only newcomer Sugar Creek. Historically, up-and-coming local breweries have also used the event as a launching pad for their wares.

Beerfest, on the other hand, advertises on its website the offer of unlimited tastings of “100 craft beers” — yet few of the beers mentioned on its social media pages are actually craft. Featured brews include Guinness, Red Stripe, Newcastle, Pabst Blue Ribbon, Stella Artois, Blue Moon and Pacifico. Also, it’s much easier to mention Charlotte breweries that are attending (OMB, Sugar Creek) versus those that are sitting out.

Of course, Oktoberfest is not 100-percent craft; neither does it pretend to be. In fact, many of the Beerfest breweries mentioned above will be pouring at both events. Organizers of both events realize the importance of bringing a wide spectrum of beers for attendees to sample, but only Beerfest tries to pass their offerings as things they are not.

Both festivals offer patrons the ability to enter the festival early, with Oktoberfest charging a $20 premium for the privilege versus Beerfest’s $50 increase. At Beerfest, VIP ticket holders get to partake in select beers; general admission ticket holders will miss several offerings. Contrarily, beer offerings at Oktoberfest do not discriminate between ticket holders. (Additionally, Beerfest VIP holders also get premium seating for the live entertainment, access to the home plate and upperdeck clubs, and a T-shirt, while Oktoberfest VIP get to enjoy a guided beer tour.)

Beerfest has also announced the Charlotte Beerfest 2014 Craft Beer Week, happening Sept. 17-20; details on “great restaurant and bar specials” have yet to be announced. This is not to be confused with the Charlotte Craft Beer Week, which celebrated its 5th anniversary this past March.

There’s more than enough room in this town for multiple beer festivals and events. It’s a shame the organizers of Beerfest couldn’t book a date with more distance from an already popular beer festival. Doing so might have saved potential attendees from getting the run-around. Then again, Blues Traveler is Beerfest’s headliner.

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Aug 1, 2014
Freddie Kitson

Beer Baron: Great Taste isn’t just beer festival; it’s a brewers festival

There’s a common misconception that needs to be cleared up about the Great Taste of the Midwest: that it’s a beer festival.

Yes, the 6,000 people who line up to drink the 1,000-plus beers pouring at the event in Madison’s Olin Park every year certainly think of it as a beer festival, and one of the premier ones in the entire country at that.

But its organizers — the all-volunteer, all-amateur Madison Homebrewers and Tasters Guild — say the key to its runaway success over the past 26 years has been to keep the focus on the brewers, which will number about 160 this year, up from 153 in 2013.

“It’s a brewers’ festival, and that’s a little bit different than a beer festival,” said Mark Garthwaite, who is a week from wrapping up his third Great Taste as chairman. “You’re actually talking to the people who make beer. Not all events are like that. This is what we hope is a showcase event for them. It’s not just the value of going to the festival and having a good time, it’s being with the people who actually made the beer and are proud to show you who they are and what they do.”

It’s worth noting here that beer festivals, as fun as they are for those in attendance, can be a bit of a slog for brewers. They have so proliferated that many breweries, even small ones, go to one just about every weekend in summer. That means hauling kegs, tap equipment and, of course, staff — if a brewer has one — around the state.

Garthwaite said some festivals don’t pay brewers for the beer they bring, forcing them to rely on the more abstract marketing value of such events to make it a profitable proposition.

It’s why the Great Taste organizers pull out all the stops to make it “the easiest event that they do,” Garthwaite said.

They unload and cold-store the beer for the brewers at the festival grounds. They handle parking . They make sure they breweries’ crews — most usually bring at least six people to pour beer and run errands — know about the many social events for them going on around town during the weekend.

Every year there’s Great Taste swag gifted to the brewmaster of each brewery: last year a 12-pack cooler and in 2012 a pair of custom-sized rubber brewers’ boots, all emblazoned with the festival logo.

“We do everything we can to treat them like the rock stars they are,” he said. “We want them to feel like they have the greatest job in the world.”

Industry groups take notice of so many brewers making the trip to Madison every year and hold social or professional events. The Master Brewers Association of the Americas is holding a technical conference in Madison on Friday, and Garthwaite said international brewery supplier Country Malt Group rented out the Madison Children’s Museum last year for an invite-only event to schmooze brewers the day before Great Taste.

The tap takeovers, samplings and other beer events held that day — Great Taste Eve, as beer aficionados in Madison and around the Midwest know it — are the primary third-party adjuncts to the festival’s weekend.

They began springing up years ago, but only recently have guild members begun helping out-of-state brewers who otherwise don’t sell in Wisconsin with the licensing and relationship-building that such events require.

They’re also the best way to experience a slice of the Great Taste — fantastic beer shared with strangers who want to talk about it, and, often, a chance to talk about it with the actual brewers — without securing the notoriously hard-to-get and increasingly expensive ticket.

This year the guild increased the Great Taste ticket price from $50 to $60, largely the result of “things we’ve been asked to do” — primarily professional security and traffic management — by the city to ensure patron safety, Garthwaite said, adding that the requests were all sensible and the guild has a good relationship with officials. More breweries every year means more beer to purchase, too.

The cost of putting on the event increases every year, he said, but the guild aims to hold the line on the price as long as possible, then do a more significant price increase.

Another constraint is the venue and, therefore, the number of patrons, Garthwaite said. The festival has maxed out the lakeside at Olin Park, with no place to put more brewery tents — or festivalgoers, and the extra ticket proceeds they would bring.

“If we were able to sell more tickets, we’d definitely do it. That cannot currently happen,” he said, adding that the guild will not move the event out of Olin Park or add other Great Taste events.

“We think about the experience value. Do it right so you make it a good experience,” he said. “The consequence of that is a $10 increase. But we’re really certain that there won’t be an increase next year, or for the foreseeable future.”

A large majority of Great Taste revenue is used to pay the festival bills, with a portion donated to charity — the amount varies based on T-shirt sales and the like but is usually around $25,000 — and the remainder used by the guild “for facilitating homebrewing education, competitions and other homebrew club events,” Garthwaite said.

The guild didn’t hear a lot of complaints about the price increase, he said, although my story on the ticket changes this spring had a comment by user GaryRobbins suggesting that the cost could be held down by limiting the brewery count to about 100 and that the increase is “getting close” to pricing people out.

I pay for my press ticket like any other Great Taste-goer, and it’s tough to make a case that the event isn’t worth $60 — not to mention waiting in line for hours the day of the event and the morning the tickets are sold. For many beer geeks it’s the best day of the year, a chance to immerse themselves in the craft beer culture that’s a huge part of their life.

And that, Garthwaite said, starts with the guild’s focus on the brewers: “If they think this is a great event for them, it cannot possibly be anything but a great event for the patrons.”

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Aug 1, 2014
Freddie Kitson

Eat, Drink and Be Merry at the 3rd Annual Magic Valley Beer Fest – Twin Falls Times

TWIN FALLS • For Shayne Carpenter, a beer festival is about quality and not quantity.

Carpenter said that is what will make the Blue Lakes Rotary Club’s 3rd annual Magic Valley Beer Fest — which is from 1 to 6 p.m. Saturday — stand out from other festivals he has attended. Advance tickets cost $25 and are available at Anchor Bistro, O’Dunken’s Draught House and Twin Stop on Pole Line Road. Admission costs $30 at the gate.

Carpenter, who founded the festival with his wife, Michelle, said when he moved to Twin Falls five years ago, he noticed there wasn’t an established beer festival in the immediate area.

“Between Idaho Falls and Boise, we are the only guy on the block,” he said.

Carpenter said he has attended more than 100 beer festivals, suppers and tastings over the years.

“I thought it was a good way to get craft beer in the Magic Valley,” he said. “We are very proud of our beer festival because it is not unlimited drinking. We want people to sample a beer and not look for volume. It’s about education and not intoxication.”

He said the event last year brought in more than $20,000 and about 750 people attended. He said the goal this year is to hit 1,000 attendees. All the proceeds go toward charities selected by the Blue Lakes Rotary Club.

Carpenter said while some beer festivals will give attendees a two- or three- ounce cup for unlimited sampling, at the Magic Valley Beer Fest, attendees will receive 15 tickets that will be good for 15 4-ounce samples. If you want a full mug, it will cost two tickets.

“With ours, you can relax and actually talk to the brewers. Ours is much more intimate, it’s not about drinking,” Carpenter said. “I’ve been to beer festivals and they can get out of control. We want to make sure its done well.”

The event will feature 96 beers from 39 brewers. Idaho brewers will include Von Scheidt Brewing Co., Sun Valley Brewing Co., Sawtooth Brewery, Payette Brewing Co., Snake River Brewing and Selkirk Abbey.

Food will be available from Buffalo Wild Wings, Anchor Bistro and the Lamb Weston french fry truck. Brizee Heating, Air Conditioning and Fireplaces will serve barbecue.

Live music will be provided by Front Porch Flavor from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m., Lakoda from 2:45 to 4:15 p.m. and the Barking Owls from 4:30 to 6 p.m.

“It’s fun, if you like beer, this is the way to go because you get to try new beers without buying a six pack or whole growler,” said Denise Young, a member of Blue Lake Rotary Club and the Beer Fest planning committee.

Besides eating and drinking, people can also try their luck at winning several items in the silent auction and raffle. Young said there will be hunting trips, fishing poles, beer making kits, bicycles and a Pabst Blue Ribbon wakeboard up for grabs.

There will also be a lifesize Jenga game and a bean bag toss set up in the park.

And if you do happen to have too many drinks or think you should take a taxi home, Carpenter said taxi rides will be available to anywhere in Twin Falls for $5.

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Aug 1, 2014
Freddie Kitson

Eat, Drink and Be Merry at the Magic Valley Beer Fest – Twin Falls Times

TWIN FALLS • For Shayne Carpenter, a beer festival is about quality and not quantity.

Carpenter said that is what will make the Blue Lakes Rotary Club’s 3rd annual Magic Valley Beer Fest — which is from 1 to 6 p.m. Saturday — stand out from other festivals he has attended. Advance tickets cost $25 and are available at Anchor Bistro, O’Dunken’s Draught House and Twin Stop on Pole Line Road. Admission costs $30 at the gate.

Carpenter, who founded the festival with his wife, Michelle, said when he moved to Twin Falls five years ago, he noticed there wasn’t an established beer festival in the immediate area.

“Between Idaho Falls and Boise, we are the only guy on the block,” he said.

Carpenter said he has attended more than 100 beer festivals, suppers and tastings over the years.

“I thought it was a good way to get craft beer in the Magic Valley,” he said. “We are very proud of our beer festival because it is not unlimited drinking. We want people to sample a beer and not look for volume. It’s about education and not intoxication.”

He said the event last year brought in more than $20,000 and about 750 people attended. He said the goal this year is to hit 1,000 attendees. All the proceeds go toward charities selected by the Blue Lakes Rotary Club.

Carpenter said while some beer festivals will give attendees a two- or three- ounce cup for unlimited sampling, at the Magic Valley Beer Fest, attendees will receive 15 tickets that will be good for 15 4-ounce samples. If you want a full mug, it will cost two tickets.

“With ours, you can relax and actually talk to the brewers. Ours is much more intimate, it’s not about drinking,” Carpenter said. “I’ve been to beer festivals and they can get out of control. We want to make sure its done well.”

The event will feature 96 beers from 39 brewers. Idaho brewers will include Von Scheidt Brewing Co., Sun Valley Brewing Co., Sawtooth Brewery, Payette Brewing Co., Snake River Brewing and Selkirk Abbey.

Food will be available from Buffalo Wild Wings, Anchor Bistro and the Lamb Weston french fry truck. Brizee Heating, Air Conditioning and Fireplaces will serve barbecue.

Live music will be provided by Front Porch Flavor from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m., Lakoda from 2:45 to 4:15 p.m. and the Barking Owls from 4:30 to 6 p.m.

“It’s fun, if you like beer, this is the way to go because you get to try new beers without buying a six pack or whole growler,” said Denise Young, a member of Blue Lake Rotary Club and the Beer Fest planning committee.

Besides eating and drinking, people can also try their luck at winning several items in the silent auction and raffle. Young said there will be hunting trips, fishing poles, beer making kits, bicycles and a Pabst Blue Ribbon wakeboard up for grabs.

There will also be a lifesize Jenga game and a bean bag toss set up in the park.

And if you do happen to have too many drinks or think you should take a taxi home, Carpenter said taxi rides will be available to anywhere in Twin Falls for $5.

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Jul 31, 2014
Freddie Kitson

BeerFest at the ballpark

Beer lovers, mark your calendars for Charlotte BeerFest, which will be held September 20 at BBT Ballpark.

Featured breweries will include OMB, Foothills, SweetWater, Oskar Blues, Natty Greene’s, Leinenkugel’s, D9 Brewery, Stella Artois, Magic Hat, Blue Moon, RJ Rockers, Goose Island and many others.

 “We are excited to host the inaugural Charlotte BeerFest and look forward to showcasing some of the world’s finest brews for the area’s beer enthusiasts,” said Charlotte BeerFest Executive Director Chris Boukedes. “We’re proud to celebrate this culture of craftsmanship and artisan brewing.”

A portion of the proceeds from the event will benefit Ace TJ’s Grin Kids and the USO of North Carolina.

 “It’s certainly a privilege and an honor to host this event,” said Dan Rajkowski, executive vice president and COO for the Charlotte Knights. “We’ve had a lot of functions going on throughout BBT Ballpark, but the Charlotte BeerFest will probably be the premier largest one that we will have in our first year, so we are looking forward to it.”

With more than 110 breweries (and counting), North Carolina is one of the top 5 fastest-growing states in the nation for craft brewing. As the industry grows, Charlotte is quickly becoming a hotspot for beer enthusiasts.

“Charlotte has a tremendously fast-growing craft beer community,” said John Marrino, founder of OMB, Charlotte’s oldest brewery. “Five years ago there were no breweries in Charlotte. Now we have eight with several more on the way… The beautiful thing about craft beer is that it’s best when it’s fresh. So when it’s made locally, it’s fantastic.”

Marrino said beer festivals are a great way to introduce locals to the world of craft beer, which he said makes up only one percent of the Charlotte beer market.

“Beer is a wonderful food,” said Marrino. “It’s good for you, and it makes people smile. A festival like this just enhances that.”

Ray Goodrich, director of marketing and communications for Foothills Brewing, said given the opportunity to try hundreds of different craft beers in one setting, attendees are guaranteed to find at least one beer that they like.

“It’s really exciting to try something new,” he said. “Everybody’s always worried about calories, but the taste is really a great trade off.”

The festival will feature a variety of food, adult fun (must be 21 and older to enter) and live music with performances by the Grammy Award-winning band Blues Traveler along with local acts Simplified and Charity Case.

General admission tickets are $50 and include unlimited beer samples, a sampling cup and access to all performances, special beer-themed activities and contests. VIP tickets are $100 and include additional benefits such as expedited entry at the gates, VIP area, private beer tasting with exclusive craft beers, a gift bag and entry to an exclusive VIP hospitality suite.

Visit www.charlottebeerfest.com for more information or to purchase tickets.

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Jul 31, 2014
Freddie Kitson

Pintful: Across the pond, thirst is growing for American craft beer

Under a bright summer sun, craft beer fans moved from tent to tent sampling American ales, California commons and West Coast India pale ales.

A food truck rodeo anchored one end, a stage the other. A guy in a shirt from a popular Colorado brewery mingled in the crowd. The speakers blared Dolly Parton’s “Jolene.”

For a moment, it felt like Hickory Hops, or any of the other great outdoor craft beer festivals in North Carolina. But I stumbled upon this one 4,000 miles from home while on vacation in Barcelona, Spain.

The surreal experience across the Atlantic Ocean at the La Fira del Poblenou spoke to the growing thirst abroad for American-style craft brews – not to mention the small-world craft beer community.

The Brewers Association, an industry trade group, recently reported American craft beer exports increased 49 percent in 2013 to 282,500 barrels and an estimated $73 million.

The growth in Europe is particularly intriguing given that American brewers drew their inspiration from their predecessors in beer-soaked regions of Germany, Belgium and the Czech Republic.

Spain is not known for its craft beer. But the country’s tastes are beginning to change.

“The beer scene is super strong and growing here,” Alan Sheppard, the head brewer at Edge Brewing in Barcelona, told me at the festival. “It’s like the states in ’96-’97.”

The Florida native said he opened a 15-barrel operation in January that brews American-style beers, such as his Flor de la Vida (Flower of Life) American Pale Ale, to “bring the craft beer revolution to Spain.”

“Everybody just wants American-style West Coast IPAs over here,” Sheppard said.

(In Spanish, he told me, an IPA is pronounced “eee-pa.” Craft beer is known as cervesa artesana and a brewery is a cerveseria.)

It turned out Sheppard previously worked for a brewing equipment company and helped install Starpoint Brewery’s system in Carrboro. (“He’s a great guy,” said Starpoint’s Tim Harper when I later recounted the connection.) He later sent me to a great craft beer bar, La Cerveteca, where a beer cooler featured a Carolina Brewery sticker. (“This is our hometown brewery,” my excited wife tried to tell the non-English-speaking bartender in a broken Spanish that left him confused but smiling.)

A few tents down from Sheppard at the festival, Peter Brown, a co-owner at BeerCat, another new local brewery, said the craft beer scene in Spain was nonexistent five years ago. And it remains a small portion of sales, despite the growth.

Most bars in Spain feature only one or two taps and universally pour flavorless light lagers such as Estrella (“es-stray-ya”) and Mahou (rhymes with “cow”).

“Spain drinks the third-largest volume of beer in the world but … beer is seen as just something to cleanse your palate. It’s clear, fizzy and cold,” said Brown, a British lawyer who now lives in Barcelona. “So we need to retrain palates. It’s getting traction.”

What I’m tasting

Back in North Carolina, a few Spanish craft beers are now appearing in select bottle shops.

At Beer Study in Chapel Hill, I found Bernabé 11 from Mateo and Bernabé, a craft brewer from the La Rioja region in Northern Spain.

The golden ale tasted sweet and lightly fruity. It’s a good illustration of Spanish craft beer – good but not yet great.

Contact John at 919-829-4698 or jfrank@newsobserver.com.

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Jul 31, 2014
Freddie Kitson

Doctor Fermento: August brings the start of beer festival season

Being an avid local craft beer lover, I chase beer festivals with abandon. No, I haven’t been to every annual beer festival in the state, but those that I haven’t visited are high on my must-attend list.

The primary deterrents for the festivals I’ve yet to attend are time and cost since most of them are beyond driving distance and involve air travel and overnight accommodations, at a minimum.

I attend beer festivals for reasons that go beyond sheer enjoyment. Most festivals support a good cause, and the brewers that attend them almost always donate their beer. I’m not a cause junkie by any means, but my attendance is a vote of confidence for the local breweries that I love, and I like to support the causes that are important to them.

The Sept. 13 Capital Brewfest is a good example. This one’s on my “yet to attend” list, but maybe this is the year. This is the gig’s third year, and it’s hosted by the Rotary of Juneau. In years past, it has benefitted SAGA. I don’t have a whole bunch of intel on this year’s event but suspect it will be the same. Regardless, it’s one of the few beer festivals that are “in the ‘hood” so to speak, and it’s definitely worthy of your attendance.

The fest takes place 1-5 p.m. at the Juneau Arts and Culture Center. Tickets will set you back $32.50 but get you admission, a commemorative glass and unlimited 2-ounce samples. Unlimited samples are pretty great for a beer festival; I don’t see too many festivals organized this way, but who’s complaining? Alaskan Brewing Company will obviously factor in huge at this gig, but the state’s other breweries will be equally represented. Check out the information at capbrewfest.com and on Facebook.

Closer to me here in Los Anchorage are a number of other cool fests you might consider if you happen to be up this. The most imminent, and undeniably my favorite, is the 3rd Annual 49th State Brewing Company’s Augtoberfest that takes place Friday, Aug. 1 and Saturday, Aug. 2 at the brewery’s expansive grounds in Healy.

Though I wouldn’t call driving to Healy from Anchorage casual (it’s a haul at right around 250 miles), it can be spectacular if the weather cooperates. When the skies are clear, the crowning fireweed backlit by the sun and sweeping vistas of Denali reward the festgoer on the way up. This can come at a cost – driving south into the sun with a hangover on a bleary-eyed Sunday morning.

This year, as part of the gig, you can get a discount ticket and experience the incredible scenery from the big windows of an Alaska Railroad passenger car as it threads its way north through some of Alaska’s most rugged backcountry if you don’t feel like driving.

When I attend, I stay at the Park’s Edge Log Cabins, just off the highway and over a little hill in Healy. No, this isn’t a shameless plug. I’ll be the first to admit the view from there isn’t spectacular and it’s off the beaten path on a dusty road (there are bed and breakfasts and accommodations closer to the brewery grounds), but that’s the allure.

Returning to the cabin at night at 2 a.m. rewarded me with the most uncanny silence I’ve ever experienced on Earth. I was really struck by the complete absence of sound, and it was nice after spending the night in a rowdy crowd twisting to music by some of my favorite local bands.

Better yet, a simple phone call fetched a brewery transport van that drove me down the dusty road and up the short distance to the brewery, freeing me of the hassle of worrying about driving intoxicated. This is a double-edged sword for me because having transportation is a license to rage and I always tend to overconsume as a result.

The brewery is encompassed by and accessed through a huge Bavarian-mimicking beer garden with a grand stage, outdoor dining areas, a horseshoe pit, fire pit and plenty of room to roam. An indoor pub is warm and inviting when the weather’s cool and dark and cool when it’s hot outside.

A central, circular hooded fire pit provides a nice touch to the very homey enclave. The menu’s robust and varied and serves some of the finest food in the area during the short months that the establishment is open along the otherwise barren stretch of highway connecting Anchorage to Fairbanks. An authentic Bavarian menu is featured during Augtoberfest along with O’fest-themed specialty beers.

Tickets for this no-miss event are $25 for the first day ($30 at the gate), $15 for the second day ($20 at the gate) or you can get a weekend pass for $35 ($40 at the gate). Surf out to 49statebrewing.com to get your tickets in advance and poke around for lodging at the same time.

Another excellent fest that’s coming up is the 4th Annual Kenai Peninsula Beer Festival at the Soldotna Sports Center from 5-10 p.m. Oct. 9. Tickets are $30, which scores you eight four-ounce samples and a commemorative tasting glass. Yeah, I know, eight samples might seem a little paltry for a five-hour fest, but you can buy additional sampling tickets at two for $3 or $15 for 12.

What really sets this fest apart is it may be the most casual and most disciplined beer event in the state. There never seems to be any bad karma at this laid-back gig that’s outside and appointed with all manner of food and craft booths and live music to keep things going. It feels like going to a Saturday market with a beer.

Most of the Kenai Peninsula breweries will be on hand, including Kassik’s Brewery, Kenai River Brewing Company, St. Elias Brewing and maybe Homer Brewing Company as well. Of course, other breweries from across the state will be represented, as will national and especially Pacific Northwest beers provided by our local distributors.

You can snag your tickets online at https://events.admitoneproducts.com/tkt_sales.php?test=trueevent_id=823214sales=. You’ll want to plan ahead as the fish are running and you might have to get creative for accommodations.

Feeling really adventurous? Check out the Oct. 17-19 Yukon Beer Festival in Whitehorse. I’ve never been to a Canadian beer festival before, and this might be my first one. It’s distant, but probably no worse than driving to the Haines Beer Festival in May every year. Check out Yukon Beer Festival on Facebook for more information.

At the same time, and much closer to home for me is the Eagle River Beer Festival at the Boys and Girls Club on Oct. 17-18. This is one of the rowdiest beer festivals in the Anchorage area, and I love the feel of it when I attend. The time and cost has not been announced, so keep your mug to the wall. Other events to keep an eye out for include Bodegafest in Anchorage and the Mighty Matanuska Beer Fest at the Alaska State Fairgrounds.

The bottom line is that there’s no need to let your meat loaf and leave your mug idle. Make plans to get out there and support good local craft beer.

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Jul 30, 2014
Freddie Kitson

Listermann Brewing spices up summer with Volksfest beer festival

CINCINNATI — If you want to escape the crowds at LumenoCity, then you should head to Norwood this weekend for one of the region’s most unique beer festivals.

The Listermann Brewing Company is hosting its second annual Volksfest beer fest on Friday and Saturday.

Volksfest features all of Cincinnati’s local breweries and focuses on summer beers. That means lower ABVs and refreshing summer flavors.

The location is a little bit different this year. Instead of the parking lot adjacent to the brewery, Listermann’s has shifted the festival to a brick lot just a bit behind the brewery.

volksfest map

There will be live music and food all day and the celebration goes from Friday at 5 p.m. until midnight and Saturday from noon until 11 p.m.

The ceremonial keg tapping of the Listermann Volksfest Lager will be held at 4 p.m.

The breweries involved are: Blank Slate, Fifty West, Christian Morelein, Rock Bottom, Rivertown, Mt. Carmel, Madtree, Cellar Dweller, Wiedemann, Quaff Bros, Rhinegeist, Triple Digit, Bad Tom Smith and Listermann. Some of the breweries are made beers just for Volksfest.

RELATED: Hops onboard! Brew tours ramble through Cincy
MORE: Beat the heat with these Top 9 local summer beers

The Cincideutsch organization is helping run the event and it will feature local home brew clubs — such as the The Bloatarian Brewing League — cultural societies and more.

Similar to the Oktoberfest and Starkbier Fest held by Listermann, the event is family and dog friendly. On Saturday, Adore-A-Bull Rescue will be hosting an adoption event.

Some of the special beers #9beer will be looking for include:

  • Blank Slate’s Ryesing Up
  • Cellar Dweller’s Ryno’s
  • Christian Moerlein’s Altered wheat
  • Mad Tree’s Tiamet
  • Rhinegeist’s Squirt
  • Rock Bottom’s Summer Honey

…. just to name a few.

volksfest beerfest

Click the photo for a complete beer list

Listermann’s is also still accepting volunteers to help serve beer and more during the event. Any beer fans who are interested can call 513-731-1130.

For the latest Cincinnati beer news and entertainment, go to wcpo.com/beer or follow Jesse on Twitter at @wcpojesse .

You can take part in the conversation at our #9beer Facebook page too!

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