Browsing articles tagged with " beer festivals"
Mar 30, 2014
Freddie Kitson

Battle of the Brews finds success with two-stage format

Beer festivals can feel like open-air carnivals — held at outdoor fairgrounds, they feature thousands of attendees, live bands, food booths and long tasting lines.

Santa Rosa’s Battle of the Brews, which drew a record 2,275 people to the Sonoma County Fairgrounds on Saturday, has been trying to grow in recent years by standing against tradition, giving attendees a chance to pay more to hobnob with the beermakers and owners from dozens of world-class breweries.

Now in its 18th year, the event has become a favorite of beer drinkers who take their hobby as seriously as wine tasters.

“It’s easy to get lost in some of the bigger events,” said Ryan Fabian, 35, of Santa Rosa who came with his wife, Laura. “The VIP experience is important if you’re into beer, which most of the people here are.”

The event, which is sponsored by the Active 20-30 Club No. 50, and raises money for charities that help underprivileged youth in the Santa Rosa area, is split up into two parts, with the smaller, high-ticket VIP Craft Cup, held from 1 to 4 p.m, drawing twice as many attendees as last year.

“We want to move in this direction, to the smaller, more intimate setting,” said Brian Sosnowchik, co-chairman of the event. “I am thrilled beyond words with the turnout that we got this year.”

More than 600 people paid $95 for a ticket to taste beers and talk with brewers as certified experts judged entries from about 50 craft breweries and cider makers. There was also the ‘Wich Hunt sandwich contest with restaurants from all over Sonoma competing.

Heretic Brewing Co. of Fairfield won Best in Show for its Shallow Grave porter, while Fall River Brewing Co. won a vote of the VIP attendees. Greg Rasmussen won a competition for the best home-brewed beer.

The Main Event, which cost $40 a ticket, ran from 4 to 8 p.m. and featured beer and cider tasting, samples from local restaurants and the cover band Cover Me Badd.

The VIP event drew praise from the craft-brew fans who attended.

“I’ve been coming here every year since about 2009,” said Danielle Noble, 37, of Santa Rosa. “I think they are totally going in the right direction.”

Noble said she was especially excited about the double IPA unveiled this year at the event by Santa Rosa’s Fogbelt Brewery.

“When I heard about that, I knew I had to be here,” she said.

University of Washington grad student Rachel Anderson, 26, who grew up in Windsor, said she made a special trip from Seattle to be at the event.

“It’s great exposure for local breweries,” she said. “They’ve gotten really well organized. It’s not too crowded or too crazy like other events.”

It’s exactly what co-sponsor Peter Bjorklund wanted to hear.

“Beer drinkers are into beer just like wine drinkers are into wine,” he said. “The elite event gives them the opportunity to talk to other beer lovers and to taste and compare notes.”

Alicia and Ben Wolf made their first trip to the event, bringing a friend, John Strostaroba, with them this year — and Alicia’s father, Jim Krause.

“I brought my 72-year-old father here,” said Alicia Wolf, 37 of Santa Rosa. “My mom is home baby-sitting my 3-year-old so we can come here and drink beer.”

You can reach Staff Writer Elizabeth M. Cosin at 521-5276 or elizabeth.cosin@pressdemocrat.com.

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Mar 30, 2014
Freddie Kitson

Battle of the Brews finds success with two-stage format

Beer festivals can feel like open-air carnivals — held at outdoor fairgrounds, they feature thousands of attendees, live bands, food booths and long tasting lines.

Santa Rosa’s Battle of the Brews, which drew a record 2,275 people to the Sonoma County Fairgrounds on Saturday, has been trying to grow in recent years by standing against tradition, giving attendees a chance to pay more to hobnob with the beermakers and owners from dozens of world-class breweries.

Now in its 18th year, the event has become a favorite of beer drinkers who take their hobby as seriously as wine tasters.

“It’s easy to get lost in some of the bigger events,” said Ryan Fabian, 35, of Santa Rosa who came with his wife, Laura. “The VIP experience is important if you’re into beer, which most of the people here are.”

The event, which is sponsored by the Active 20-30 Club No. 50, and raises money for charities that help underprivileged youth in the Santa Rosa area, is split up into two parts, with the smaller, high-ticket VIP Craft Cup, held from 1 to 4 p.m, drawing twice as many attendees as last year.

“We want to move in this direction, to the smaller, more intimate setting,” said Brian Sosnowchik, co-chairman of the event. “I am thrilled beyond words with the turnout that we got this year.”

More than 600 people paid $95 for a ticket to taste beers and talk with brewers as certified experts judged entries from about 50 craft breweries and cider makers. There was also the ‘Wich Hunt sandwich contest with restaurants from all over Sonoma competing.

Heretic Brewing Co. of Fairfield won Best in Show for its Shallow Grave porter, while Fall River Brewing Co. won a vote of the VIP attendees. Greg Rasmussen won a competition for the best home-brewed beer.

The Main Event, which cost $40 a ticket, ran from 4 to 8 p.m. and featured beer and cider tasting, samples from local restaurants and the cover band Cover Me Badd.

The VIP event drew praise from the craft-brew fans who attended.

“I’ve been coming here every year since about 2009,” said Danielle Noble, 37, of Santa Rosa. “I think they are totally going in the right direction.”

Noble said she was especially excited about the double IPA unveiled this year at the event by Santa Rosa’s Fogbelt Brewery.

“When I heard about that, I knew I had to be here,” she said.

University of Washington grad student Rachel Anderson, 26, who grew up in Windsor, said she made a special trip from Seattle to be at the event.

“It’s great exposure for local breweries,” she said. “They’ve gotten really well organized. It’s not too crowded or too crazy like other events.”

It’s exactly what co-sponsor Peter Bjorklund wanted to hear.

“Beer drinkers are into beer just like wine drinkers are into wine,” he said. “The elite event gives them the opportunity to talk to other beer lovers and to taste and compare notes.”

Alicia and Ben Wolf made their first trip to the event, bringing a friend, John Strostaroba, with them this year — and Alicia’s father, Jim Krause.

“I brought my 72-year-old father here,” said Alicia Wolf, 37 of Santa Rosa. “My mom is home baby-sitting my 3-year-old so we can come here and drink beer.”

You can reach Staff Writer Elizabeth M. Cosin at 521-5276 or elizabeth.cosin@pressdemocrat.com.

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Mar 29, 2014
Freddie Kitson

The Bar Man – And the winner is …

How are the awards going? Baftas? Check. Golden Globes? Check. Oscars? Check. I even saw the Slave film, although when I went into the cinema I was under the impression that I had a ticket for The Wolf of Wall Street.

That’s the films dealt with, so how about the books? The Man Booker prize winner, The Luminaries is available soon in paperback, so I hope you have reserved your copy. If you weren’t at the recent Arts and Science Society lecture, here is a tip from the chair of the Man Booker organising committee. You will appreciate The Luminaries more on the second and third readings.

At 852 pages that might cut into your day a bit, so you may have to give up on some of the other 50-odd winners of various prizes available for books in this country.

So what of pubs and beer? Beer tends to suffer from the award inflation which afflicts so many other areas. CAMRA recognises gold, silver and bronze awards in eight categories at a national level, and there are corresponding accolades at county and regional levels as well as awards for winter ales, bottled beers and those given by individual beer festivals. No wonder many breweries have walls full of certificates. It is not to say that the winners are undeserving, and we are especially proud of the Two Rivers Brewery from Denver in West Norfolk which has gained gold in the Norfolk bottled beer awards for their Porters Pride, which is also available on draught, the most recent sighting being in the Chequers at Wimbotsham.

However it seems to me that the only accolade which really enters the national consciousness is the overall champion beer of Britain, currently Elland 1872 Porter.

With pubs, we have only two champions in West Norfolk each year, so for the next 12 months the spotlight is trained on the Coach and Horses at Dersingham, our newly-crowned Pub of the Year. If you have not been, why not go and have a look at a classic village pub?

It doesn’t have the airs and graces of some of the more discovered upmarket pubs by the coast, but if you want good beer, decent food and a friendly atmosphere you will need to go a long way to find anywhere better. To win the award it had to overcome the challenge of three other excellent pubs on the shortlist, which it did by the very narrowest of margins, less than 0.5 per cent, which I think is a tribute to the quality of many of our local pubs.

We think The Coach and Horses has a great chance to go on to become the Norfolk pub of the year when it goes up against the Fat Cat in Norwich.

The ultimate aim is to challenge for the national pub of the year, which for the second year in a row has gone to Lancashire. Succeeding the Baum in Rochdale is The Swan with Two Necks in Pendleton, near Clitheroe.

Cider drinkers get their own Pub of the Year award and once again our choice is the current national champion, the Railway in Downham. To become Norfolk champion it must beat off the White Lion in Norwich and the Banham Barrels. If you are a local CAMRA member you can help to choose the Norfolk champions if you are prepared to visit the branch winners and fill in a score sheet.

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Mar 28, 2014
Freddie Kitson

Club hosts free beer festival

The Albatross Club in Marina Arcade Is working hard to win the S.E. Sussex CAMRA Club of the Year for the fourth year in a row.

On the way to doing that it is about to host a free beer festival which will showcase the best of what is on offer to Real Ale fans.

Head Steward Geoff Wentworth said: “It will be a wonderful honour for the club and our ongoing success is proving to be great for Bexhill.

We have many visitors who stay in Bexhill because they want to try our Real Ales and then find they love our town.”

On Saturday April 4 until Sunday April 6th the club will be holding the fifth Bexhill Beer Festival and it is hoped that many Bexhillians will attend again this year.

The club is delighted to have one of Bexhill’s favourite bands, ‘The Exiles’ who will play at the Beer Festival on Friday 4th April at 7pm.

Geoff commented: “We will be having our usual, fantastic array of Real Ales from all over Britain, many from brand new Micro Breweries.

“The club is increasingly recognised as somewhere to sample difficult to find, and unusual, Real Ales especially at our Beer Festivals.

“We are looking forward to meeting old friends and new friends during the Bexhill Beer Festival and of course everyone is welcome at the event and they can also join the club at anytime.”

There is no admission charge at the Beer Festival. The Albatross club is at 15 Marina Arcade, 01424 212916.

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Mar 28, 2014
Freddie Kitson

The Best Beer Festivals

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Mar 27, 2014
Freddie Kitson

Gig Harbor entrepreneur cooking up idea of a new brewery

The third annual Gig Harbor Beer festival takes place noon to 6 p.m., Saturday, May 10 at Uptown plaza, 4701 Point Fosdick Drive. Tickets are $20 in advance and $25 after April 25 and at the gate. To purchase tickets, go online to www.gigharborbeerfestival.com. For adults only age 21 and older. The festival is a fundraiser for the Gig Harbor Kiwanis Foundation.


John Fosberg likes beer. In fact, like most craft brewers, Fosberg is nuts about beer. He got hooked several years ago on locally produced craft beers from 7 Seas, Harmon and others.
He soon became a regular at beer festivals throughout the region as a sampler and as a volunteer.
That led to his founding of the Gig Harbor Beer Festival, which celebrates its third year in May at the Uptown Pavilion.
Along the way, Forsberg starting brewing his own beer at home. So the next logical step was to start his own commercial brewery.
If all the pieces fall into place, that dream will come true this fall when Fosberg opens The Gig Harbor Brewing Company.
Fosberg’s timing seems to be right on.
According to the latest report from the Brewers Association, which represents the majority of breweries in the United States, craft brewing is seeing steady growth.
Almost 450 new craft breweries opened their doors between June 2012 and June 2013.
During the first six months of 2013, American craft beer sales and volume were up 15 percent and 13 percent, respectively.

Fosberg is eager to get the Gig Harbor Brewing Company up and running and he already has a group of investors on board.

“We want to be the second brewery in Gig Harbor — not the third,” Fosberg said.

But first, he needs to find a suitable space.

He’s looking for a 3,000- to 4,000-square-foot warehouse inside the city limits, with access to the city sewer.

“I didn’t think it would be so difficult to find a space like that,” he said. “But city zoning just doesn’t seem to support this type of building.”

He has already looked at several places, including one that would have been perfect, but he was told that the building owner “didn’t want a brewery.”

He has several other locations still on his list to investigate.

Like all entrepreneurs, Fosberg is an optimist and he anticipates that the Gig Harbor Brewing Company will be up and brewing by the end of the year.

He has hired Trevor Nicol of Tacoma as his head brewmaster, and the two of them are hard at work developing and testing recipes and coming up with names for the new company’s brews.

“This is a project that is already backed by good investors,” Fosberg said. “People have loved this idea from the very beginning and a big chunk of money has already come from a group of people who really fell in love with the project. But of course, we’d be happy to add a couple more serious investors, also,” he said with a smile.

He’s also gathering all the equipment the new brewery will need. “We’re even looking at used equipment from breweries that have expanded,” he said.

He plans to start small. “Our system is pretty basic. We’ll start with eight to 10 barrels,” he said. “And of course we’ll have a small tasting room.

“We have all our ducks in a row, and once we find a space we’re all ready to go.”

Meanwhile, Fosberg is already selling tickets to this year’s Gig Harbor Beer Festival. “We have all the breweries already lined up and ticket sales are looking good,” he said. “People should save the date of May 10 for the festival.”

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Mar 27, 2014
Freddie Kitson

Obscure beers at Northern Lights fest

People want what they can’t have. In few places is that more evident than craft-beer circles. Scarcity, it would seem, is a virtue, as limited brews induce the most salivation among enthusiasts.

Mark Opdahl and Juno Choi hope to give beer junkies their obscure-ale fix with Saturday’s Northern Lights Rare Beer Fest. The duo behind other beery events, including the St. Paul Summer Beer Fest and the Mankato Craft Beer Expo, are bringing together 30 specialty-keg-toting breweries for a tasting party littered with vintage, one-off or otherwise hard-to-come-by beers.

“This is a super-high-end version of what we really do — try to give the attendee the full experience,” Opdahl said, bellied up at Stout’s Pub in Falcon Heights. “We want to offer them beers that they’re never going to be able to try otherwise.”

Specialty brews garner the longest lines at beer festivals, and Opdahl’s isn’t the first attempt at curating a limited-only fest. Though it’s tough to match its star-studded lineup, Northern Lights is modeled after events like the Denver Rare Beer Tasting, which coincides with the Great American Beer Festival. Like the Denver bash, Northern Lights has partnered with Pints for Prostates, donating proceeds from a silent auction and a portion of ticket sales to the cancer-fighting charity.

The craft-beer era has ushered in a wine-like appreciation for vintage ales, and beer collectors (Opdahl included) are stashing bottles to crack years after they were brewed. “There was a point where I had over $10,000 of beer in my cellar,” the 31-year-old said.

Breweries, too, are setting aside coveted kegs. A handful of them have dipped into their cache for Northern Lights. For Saturday’s sampling fête, local heavyweight Surly Brewing Co. is breaking out 2010 and 2011 versions of its lusted-after Russian imperial stout, Darkness. “I was kind of shocked to hear that [president] Omar [Ansari] approved that for this fest,” said Surly brewmaster Todd Haug. “There’s never enough of it.”

Not all beers age well, Haug said, noting that Belgians, sours, stouts and barleywines with high alcohol content tend to cellar better. Over time the beer oxidizes, altering the beer’s flavor profile. With Darkness, the intense hop character softens, and the malt components develop. “You get a lot more of the cherry and raisin — almost like aged-wine characters, like a port or sherry,” he said.

With 70-plus aged, short-run or cask-conditioned brews at Northern Lights, how to choose? As with any beer fest, strategic sampling is in order. These brews belong on any suds head’s radar.

Lagunitas Brewing Co: 2008 Olde Gnarlywine This semi-retired precursor to the NoCal brewery’s acclaimed Brown Shugga’ is the eldest at the festival. Compare the 2008 version to 2011’s run (also on hand).

Fitger’s Brewhouse: Starfire Reserve Pale Ale The indomitable Duluth brewery is bringing its souped-up imperial version of its Starfire pale ale — a Minnesota classic on steroids.

Grand Teton Brewing Co.: Huckleberry Sour Sour freaks should heed this imperial witbier, aged for three years in chardonnay barrels with wild yeast and 65 pounds of huckleberries — the only keg to make it to Minnie, Opdahl boasts.

Boulevard Brewing Co.: Foeder Projekt #1 Sort of a happy accident, this sour ale initially was slated as a blend beer. But after spending six months in a foeder — a big ol’ wooden barrel normally used in winemaking — the Kansas City beermaker deemed it fit for release (with limited availability).

 

Northern Lights Rare Beer Fest

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Mar 26, 2014
Freddie Kitson

Morsels: March 26

Rotary Club to hold pancake breakfast

The Rotary Club of Hendersonville will hold a pancake breakfast from 7:30-11 a.m. Saturday at McDonald’s locations at 1909 4 Seasons Blvd. and 630 Spartanburg Highway. This event raises money for programs that benefit children in Henderson County.

The all-you-can-eat breakfast will include pancakes, bacon, sausage, scrambled eggs, hash browns, biscuits and gravy, English muffins and beverages — all for a $6 donation.

The breakfast will be served by members of the Rotary Club of Hendersonville and McDonald’s employees.

Tickets can be purchased in advance from any club member or at either McDonald’s the day of the breakfast. For more information, visit www.hendersonvillerotary.com.

Local vineyard wins awards

On Feb. 12 and 13, professional wine judges from around the country gathered at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds in Santa Rosa, Calif., for the 37th annual International Eastern Wine Competition and Riesling Championship, hosted by Vineyard Winery Management.

While the spotlight is on wines from the East, Midwest and eastern Canada, this year IEWC was opened to all international wine-producing regions.

Burntshirt Vineyards took home multiple awards in the 2014 East Meets West Eastern Division of the competition. Their 2012 Burntshirt Vineyards Sunset Sippin’ won both North Carolina Best of Class and North Carolina Double Gold awards, while their 2012 Burntshirt Vineyards Riesling won the North Carolina Bronze award.

For more information on Burntshirt Vineyards, visit www.burntshirtvine yards.com.

For more information about the competition, visit www.winecompetitions.com/#nav=west-coast.

Governor proclaims NC Beer Month in April

In recognition of North Carolina’s 100 craft breweries and their positive impact on the state’s economy, Gov. Pat McCrory has proclaimed April 2014 as “North Carolina Beer Month.”

N.C. Beer Month, co-sponsored by the North Carolina Division of Tourism and the North Carolina Craft Brewers Guild, encourages residents and travelers to explore a wide range of special events, from beer festivals to creative brewery collaborations, that showcase the industry’s top-notch products and hospitality.

Local highlights include:

New releases: A Scotch ale from Highland Brewing in Asheville, kicking off its “20 Beers for 20 Years” anniversary celebration.

Taverns and trolleys: The East Coast expansions of Oskar Blues in Brevard (2012), Sierra Nevada in Mills River (2014) and New Belgium in Asheville (2015) compound the interest among beer travelers.

Visit NCBeerMonth.com between now and the end of April to tap into celebrations from the mountains to the coast.

For a map of the state’s breweries, check out NCBeer.org. And for travel planning, head to VisitNC.com.

Dough offering classes

Dough, at 372 Merrimon Ave., Asheville, is offering the following classes:

6-8:30 p.m. today: Chef Deal, making Stromboli and calzone. Cost: $55.

6-9 p.m. Friday: Chef Heather Pennypacker, creating sweet and savory tarts. $55.

10 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Saturday: Chef Jeff Pennypacker, fine art of cooking eggs. $55.

6-8:30 p.m. Saturday: Chef Jeff Pennypacker, rolling sushi. Cost: $55.

6-9 p.m. Monday: Chef Heather Pennypacker, baking cakes. $55.

Call 828-575-9444 or visit www.doughasheville.com for more information.

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Mar 26, 2014
Freddie Kitson

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Five down, one to go. Next weekend more than 10,000 people will flock to Hagley Park in Christchurch for the Great Kiwi Beer Festival, the last of this year’s major summer beer festivals.

The last few months have seen smaller festivals held in Blenheim, Queenstown, Wairarapa and Nelson, and a much larger event a fortnight ago in Auckland.

Although I’ve attended only the Blenheim festival in February, and Nelson’s MarchFest last Saturday, I’ve been keeping my ears and eyes open for feedback on those other events.

Judging by what I’ve seen, read and heard, the success or failure of beer festivals, regardless of their size, is being hugely influenced by the way the new Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act is being interpreted and implemented by local authorities. For some festivals everything seems to be fine, but for others, no matter how well organised, they’re struggling under the burden of increasingly restrictive liquor licensing and security compliance issues.

Take the R20-rated New Zealand Beer Festival, for example. Held a fortnight ago at The Cloud on Auckland’s Queen’s Wharf, the festival was hit with a sequence of last-minute changes to its liquor license.

According to one stallholder, “things were changing on a daily basis. One night we got two updates within an hour.”

Event organiser Andrew Somerville applied for his licence in December last year, but the introduction of the new act meant the festival was left waiting until the Tuesday before the event.

With four days to go, closing time for alcohol sales at the festival’s evening session was brought forward from 9pm to 8pm, and authorities insisted on restricting the pour size for all beers at both sessions to 165ml – the equivalent of half a standard stubby of beer.

With some 8000 people attending the evening session, the small pour resulted in them spending much of the time standing in long queues waiting to buy their next drink. There was also much talk of heavy-handed security, with guards standing by at every bar scrutinising those serving the beers, and unspecified observers videoing proceedings.

The event soon attracted a stream of negative feedback on social media. Festivalgoer Adrian Keane was furious: “Talk about erosion of civil liberties. Just when exactly did the fun police take over in Auckland? Tiny glasses and a bar that closed at 2pm . . .” he wrote on the festival’s Facebook page. “Security guards were everywhere, and they were none too subtle as they actively sidled up to people to check just in case they may have had too much to drink.”

Others echoed similar concerns. Marie Cleghorn wrote: “This event has had the fun sucked out if it – day split into two, half pours so you’re constantly queuing, bars closed at 8pm for a closing time of 10pm.”

And Ian Minton added, “From what bar staff told us, this event was handcuffed by the liquor licensing laws.”

This summer in Blenheim, the annual Blues, Brews and Barbecues festival failed to materialise. Having once attracted crowds of around 8000 people, in recent years the event had suffered falling attendances, and was finally deemed unviable by its organisers, the Round Table club.

Why did it fail? When asked by the Marlborough Express, festival organiser Graeme Boon offered two reasons: first, Marlborough’s craft brewers had withdrawn from the event after plastic cups replaced glasses in 2010 (a ban on glasses had been imposed by the local liquor licensing committee following a recommendation from police), and secondly that regulations surrounding the liquor licence had increased the cost dramatically.

Police pressure on the local liquor licensing committee had also been behind the festival becoming an R18 event a few years earlier; a move which completely changed the tone of the event by preventing family groups from attending.

The demise of Blenheim’s Blues, Brews and Barbecues was a great shame because it was a charitable event. In its 20-year history the Round Table had donated more than $1 million of festival profits to local charities.

In the end this year Marlborough’s beer lovers enjoyed a much smaller beer and music festival run by restaurateur Dietmar Schnarre. Held at the Dodson Street Beer Garden in early February, the event drew a crowd of some 300 beer lovers and proved that a quality-focused, family-friendly festival can succeed without plastic cups, restricted pour sizes, or an intrusive security and police presence.

By all accounts, this year’s Greater Wellington Brewday, which was held three weeks ago in a paddock on the edge of Martinborough, was also a roaring success. Showcasing the products of 16 of the Wellington region’s craft breweries and distilleries, and offering high quality food matches and entertainment in a family-friendly environment, the festival drew a laid-back crowd of about 1900. Reports suggest there was no invasive security, and the beers were available in 100ml tastings and larger 250ml pours.

And MarchFest in Nelson at the weekend was a similar success story. Around 3500 people made their way to Founders Park to enjoy a warm, sunny day sampling craft beers, ciders and wines from local producers while listening to music and exploring the park’s many historic buildings.

MarchFest is known for its relaxed, family-friendly vibe, and at no stage did I see any unnecessarily overt or antagonistic security presence or undesirable behaviour. It’s a wonderful way to celebrate the end of summer.

Meanwhile, I’m looking forward to attending Christchurch’s much larger Great Kiwi Beer Festival in Hagley Park this Saturday.

Festival organiser Callam Mitchell noted that there will be a bigger police presence at the event this year, but is nonetheless pleased that festivalgoers will once again be able to sample the beers from glasses in 100ml tastings and 285ml pours. Since its inception, the GKBF has been a well-managed event with a happy, trouble-free atmosphere.

Cheers.

– The Marlborough Express



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Mar 26, 2014
Freddie Kitson

Celtic Classic organizers debuting new beer festival in Bethlehem – The Express

The organizers of Bethlehem’s Celtic Classic are debuting a new beer festival in June.

The Lehigh Valley HopsFest will take place June 14 on Celtic Classic’s competition field at Main and Lehigh streets.

The $40 event lets participants taste more than 115 beers from 55 breweries, said Jayne Ann Recker, executive director of the Celtic Cultural Alliance.

Beer festivals are “very fashionable now,” she said. “There’s a lot of new breweries all the time.”

The Celtic Cultural Alliance, which created September’s Celtic Classic 27 years ago, launched a St. Patrick’s Day parade called the Parade of Shamrocks in 2010. While the beer festival doesn’t fit the organization’s mission of promoting Celtic culture, it’ll help fund the alliance’s workshops, lectures and scholarships, Recker said.

“We challenged ourselves to come up with a fundraiser to really grow our educational outreach,” she said. “This idea has been in the works for a little more than a year.”

Lehigh Valley HopsFest will take place just two weeks after PBS39’s MicroBrew Festival but Recker thinks there’s enough local interest in beer tasting to support both events.

In just two days of promotion through social media, about half of the Lehigh Valley HopsFest’s $75 VIP tickets, which also include lunch and additional beer varieties, have sold out, Recker said. There’s not yet a limit on the general admission tickets, but Recker said she also expects them to sell quickly.

“With the activity we’re seeing we’re telling people not to wait,” she said.

Tickets can be purchased online at celticfest.org.

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