Browsing articles tagged with " Craft Beer"
Sep 26, 2013
Freddie Kitson

Second Annual Downtown Brew Festival Held at Clark County Aphitheatre

Festival goers enjoying the 2013 Downtown Brew Festival’s live entertainment and diverse craft beer offerings inside the Clark County Amphitheatre.; Credit: Donoghue Photography, Inc

Festival goers enjoying the 2013 Downtown Brew Festival’s live entertainment and diverse craft beer offerings inside the Clark County Amphitheatre.; Credit: Donoghue Photography, Inc

On Saturday, Sept. 21, more than 3,000 beer enthusiasts filled the Clark County Amphitheater for the second annual Downtown Brew Festival presented by Motley Brews. Beer lovers relished in tasty beer-themed treats, exclusive craft beer tastings, and non-stop live music during one of Las Vegas’ largest fall craft beer festivals.

The breweries lured guests with an assortment of more than 200 tasting options from more than 60 local and regional breweries, introducing festival-goers to exclusive blends available for the first time. Four local Nevada craft brewers debuted specialty beers scheduled to be submitted in October’s Great American Beer Festival, the largest beer festival in the United States. Throughout the evening, guests sampled exclusive crafts such as a Smokin’ Poles Gratzer and JJ Smoked Wee Heavy brewed by Joseph James Brewing Co., Belgian Quad and Belgian Tripel crafted by Chicago Brewing Company, Baltic Porter and Scottish Ale from Tenaya Creek Brewing Co. and a Cherry Wit andDunkel Weizenbock brewed by Big Dog’s Brewing Co.

Festival goers enjoying the intimate atmosphere and the finest local and regional craft beers during the 2013 Downtown Brew Festival.; Credit: Donoghue Photography, Inc

Festival goers enjoying the intimate atmosphere and the finest local and regional craft beers during the 2013 Downtown Brew Festival.; Credit: Donoghue Photography, Inc

Expanding on all things craft beer, VIP ticket holders were treated to a specially designed beer-infused menu created by CutThroat Culinary Chef Christian Dolias. The menu offered Smoked Porter Braised Short Ribs stewed in Stone Smoked Porter, Citrus and Hefe Crab Louie Sliders made with Big Dog’s Tailwagger Hefeweizen, IPA Marinated Crispy Chicken Tacos blended with Joseph James’ Hop Box Imperial IPA and Irish Car Bomb Cupcakes infused with Tenaya Creek’s Hauling Oats Oatmeal Stout.

Throughout the day, festival-goers enjoyed an intimate backyard party atmosphere while educating their palates with a variety of pale ales, lagers, stouts and IPAs made locally in Las Vegas. While exploring the depth of Nevada’s craft beer culture, food was available for purchase throughout the event from participating vendors including Todd English P.U.B, Sausagefest, Smoke’n Sam’s BBQ and Robo Duck.

Creating the perfect pairing to hundreds of beers, Rusty Maples, Las Vegas’ rising indie group, headlined the evening with hits from the group’s album “Make Way.” In addition, Moondog and American Cream took center stage with enticing sets, creating non-stop entertainment until the last brew was poured.

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Sep 25, 2013
Freddie Kitson

It Started in Munich, And Flowed Here

The greatest vacation I never had came around this time of year nine years ago.

Only months out of graduate school, I didn’t have the money to fly halfway around the world to a friend’s wedding in Munich. Which means, I also missed celebrating with him inside a tent packed with thousands of people who’d come there to do one thing: drink German lagers.

It still hurts, knowing that I was oh-so close to attending Oktoberfest, the largest beer festival on the planet. Held during the final two weeks of September and first few days of October, the festival has existed for more than 200 years and attracts 6 million people to Munich every year. Many more than that attend the countless other beer festivals around the world that have sprung up in tribute to the original.

Indeed, I’m aware of at least two O’fests happening soon in the Upper Valley, both very different from the original and distinct from each other, but nevertheless offering the chance to join friends and drink some good beer.

The first, and newest, will be in Hanover the evening of Oct. 4. This is the inaugural year for the “Upper Valley Oktoberfest,” to be held at Dartmouth College inside the Top of the Hop.

The Hanover Lions Club is organizing the event. Lions Club member Cam Rankin said he hopes it will become a replacement for the now defunct auto show that used to be the group’s largest fund raising event of the year.

“We’re hoping this is going to be a home run for us,” Rankin told me last week.

Rankin confessed he’s more of a wine drinker, but said the Lions are trying to seize on the surging interest in craft beer, particularly among the younger 20-somethings in the Dartmouth community.

The Upper Valley Oktoberfest will be a more modest affair than other celebrations, and certainly smaller than the one in Munich. Still, there will be 17 breweries in attendance, nearly all of them from Vermont or New Hampshire. The $35 admission buys you 12 tickets, each good for a 4-ounce sample, plus there’s food and live music.

There are a few newer breweries attending, including the year-old Henniker Brewing Co. and also Portsmouth-based Great Rhythm Brewing Co. They’ll be joined by local establishments here in the Upper Valley, such as Norwich’s Jasper Murdoch’s and Seven Barrel Brewery in West Lebanon, as well as Long Trail and Harpoon.

Harpoon will be hosting its own “Octoberfest” the same weekend in Boston, but will bring the party to the Upper Valley a week later at its Windsor brewery.

Harpoon’s outdoor festival is among my favorite annual events, and it’s not just because of the beer. There’s sausage, an oompa band, chicken dancing, keg bowling, and a 3.6-mile run that kicks my butt every year, but makes me feel like I’ve actually earned my two pints that day.

There won’t be the variety of brewers like at the Lions Club event, as Harpoon serves only its own beers during the festival. There’s still variety, including the malty Octoberfest, the UFO series’ hefeweizen and “white,” flagship India Pale Ale, the spicy Rich and Dan’s Rye IPA, Harpoon Dark and even two hard ciders.

Don’t expect to find much authentic German tradition in either of the Upper Valley festivals. Oh sure, there will be people wearing lederhosen and dirndls that will most likely be recycled for Halloween two weeks later. Bratwurst will be consumed and funny dancing will be in abundance. But I doubt the Munich party has a Cajun band, like the one the Lions booked, or includes a road race that starts you out on a wicked hill, like Harpoon.

The beers that will be served are certainly different, as the Munich Oktoberfest allows only breweries located inside the city limits, according to the Oxford Companion to Beer.

Not that this matters. The “real” Oktoberfest has evolved from its origins. It began as a two-day event with free food and beer in 1810 to celebrate the wedding of the Bavarian king’s son, Crown Prince Ludwig, a fact that I wonder if many festivalgoers in Germany could recite.

Traditions evolve. Oktoberfest began as a celebration with beer and has become a celebration of beer. With so many good options in the Twin States, we should be celebrating too. Prosit — to your health.

Information about the beer festivals can be found at and

Valley News staff writer Chris Fleisher is a beer judge and the founder of the website He can be reached at 603-727-3229 or

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Sep 25, 2013
Freddie Kitson

New: Off the Rails Craft Beer Fest

Hanover Arts  Activities Center

Hanover Arts Activities Center

Proceeds of the first Off the Rails Craft Brew Festival will help restore the 154-year-old building that houses the Hanover Arts Activities Center. The festival will be held on the front lawn.

Posted: Wednesday, September 25, 2013 12:00 am

New: Off the Rails Craft Beer Fest

Craft breweries and beer festivals are all the rage in Richmond this year.

This weekend, there’s a brand new one to add to the list.

Off the Rails Craft Beer Fest in Ashland will be serving local craft brews like Center of the Universe, Legend, Hardywood Park and more on the front lawn of the Hanover Arts Activities Center.

The event is a fundraiser to restore the 154-year-old building which has served as a nonprofit community center for the last 46 years.

Food trucks Monique’s Crepes, Popping Mealies, The Dog Wagon, Slideways Mobile Bistro and King of Pops will be on hand. There will be live music from The Bush League and The Big Payback.

Admission is $10 and includes commemorative glass. A 2 oz. tasting is $1; full glasses will sell for $6. Children 12 and under are free.

Off the Rails Craft Beer Fest

Saturday, Sept. 28

Hanover Arts Activities Center

1 p.m. to 7 p.m.



Wednesday, September 25, 2013 12:00 am.

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Sep 25, 2013
Freddie Kitson

In Focus: Willard Brooks, chairman of Buffalo Beer Week

Buffalo’s affinity for beer, dating from its earliest days, has fostered a growing trend: craft brewing using local ingredients.

As the region celebrates Buffalo Beer Week, The Buffalo News’ Brian Meyer sat down with the chairman of the 10-day event, Willard Brooks, who talked about some of the activities and looked back on Buffalo’s beer heritage. Here is a summary of their conversation, part of the weekly “In Focus” series. Watch the full interview above.

Meyer: How do you think our brewing history has shaped the region?

Brooks: Fundamentally, Buffalo is a beer town. It has been probably since the beginning of its history. In the late 19th century, there were 38 breweries at one point in time open simultaneously. There was a rich history of malting, as well. There were several malting facilities in Buffalo Niagara. This is part of our DNA, it seems. It’s now coming back. History seems to be repeating itself right about now.

Meyer: What has triggered this craft beer phase?

Brooks: People demand beer with great flavor. I think that is the fundamental thing that’s shifting it in that direction. Also, there’s a demand for a locally made product, which is also happening. … There are local hops farms. … In Batavia, there’s a new malt factory opening. We have breweries – two new ones – and several new ones on the way. … Within a few years, I think there will be 15 or 16 breweries.

Meyer: Is it kind of piggybacking on this whole locally grown craze for vegetables and all kinds of other things?

Brooks: I think it is part of that wide trend. However, beer is a beverage that people in Buffalo have a great deal of passion for. It’s hard to find any public event that doesn’t have beer involved in it. Going back to the 19th century, Buffalo was a city that had a tremendous number of beer gardens, with our German-American brewing history. It’s just somehow part of our culture here.

Meyer: Let’s compare the craft beer trend here in Western New York with other cities. Where are we in comparison?

Brooks: Most people would say that we’re a little bit behind, but I believe that we’re catching up quite quickly. The craft beer revolution, as many people call it, sort of began back in the 1980s. At a low point in the United States, there were about 90 breweries in the early ’80s. And now there are 2,500 breweries.

Meyer: Beer Week aims to try to capitalize on that and expand this trend. … The organizers of the event are doing anything but telling people to stay inside, grab a six-pack and enjoy a good football game, right? You’re saying, “Come on out.”

Brooks: (Laughs) Come on out. We have over a hundred events all across the region. We have events with breweries. We have events at pubs. We have beer festivals. We have films. We have beer tastings.

Meyer: How did Beer Week come about?

Brooks: Beer Week started about 10 years ago in Philadelphia. That’s the original and the largest Beer Week in the country. There, they have something like a thousand events across their 10-day celebration. That’s become a trend across the country. There are now several cities across the country that have rather large beer weeks, such as New York City, Philadelphia, San Francisco. … They coincide with a trend … where cities sort of adapt to a brewing culture as a way to develop their economy.

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Sep 24, 2013
Freddie Kitson

If You’re Too Cool for Addison Oktoberfest, We Didn’t Want You There Anyway

IMG_2757.jpgSUBURBAN ELK BRATS MMM.You kids these days and your super-trendy downtown Dallas beer festivals. Untapped. North Texas Beer Festival. Dallas BrewFest. Big Texas Beer Fest. Oh, there isn’t one this weekend? No problem, because you can just stroll in to one of your 187 microbreweries around town on any given Saturday, expecting (EXPECTING?!) there to be food trucks and live music and collectable mugs and well-designed t-shirts that you’re too cool to wear. I know.

Well, gather round children, and let me tell you a tale. See, it was just a few years ago when Dallas didn’t have microbreweries, or craft beer festivals, or cupcake ATMs, or even grilled-cheese food trucks. There was no Klyde Warren Park. When we wanted to wander around outside and drink beer with 10s of 1000s of other Dallas-ites, we had to drive our asses to (dramatic pause) the SUBURBS. What you know as the title of an Arcade Fire album was once a destination for outdoor fun and shenanigans.

And guess what? Addison’s Oktoberfest was and still is pretty great. After extending multiple invites to people that are now apparently too good to travel north of Walnut Hill, my wife and sons, along with another friend and her son, took advantage of the most perfect weather that Dallas can muster and got lost in the aisles of goofy art, smoked meat, polka bands, and strollers.

I like Oktoberfest, because it is 100 percent family friendly and also 100 percent normal to watch old people drunkenly enter a raffle for a Texas Rangers-themed Camaro. Despite the jubilance, everyone that I saw remained in control. I didn’t see any strangers shouting things at each other or dude-bros messing up high-fives. It’s the ‘burbs, after all.

After looking at the map, we all agreed that the 30,000 square-foot air-conditioned tent ought to be our first stop, so we could sit down and figure out a plan. Upon walking in, my wife’s friend burst out laughing and immediately turned around. Imagine a clown car, but instead of a car it was a 30,000 square-foot air-conditioned tent and instead of circus music there was polka music. (Which maybe is based on polka music? Check wikipedia.) We decided instead to set up camp near the outside stage and watched multiple bands, along with a beer barrel race.

IMG_2738.jpgSUBURBAN PASTRIES MMM.I was told that the city was expecting 75,000 guests, but wouldn’t be surprised if the good weather brought out somewhere closer to 90,000. The worst line was the line to buy food tickets; otherwise, I didn’t wait more than 5 minutes for anything, though we did leave around 6:30p to avoid multiple tired-child melt-downs.

Without question, the best thing I ate was an elk bratwurst with jalapeno and cheddar. Flavorful and perfectly cooked, the jalapeno was subtle enough to avoid overpowering the distinct taste of the elk meat. When I showed up, they were also selling chicken and pheasant sausages with spinach, but the wheat beer, strudel, pork shank, and potato pancake were already weighing me down and someone had to chase my two-and-a-half year old away from the accordion player (don’t want the kid getting any ideas).

Speaking of strudel, apparently I’ve been missing out on it my entire life. Maybe this is common knowledge, but streusel is a generic term for crumb topping, and strudel is the most delicious pastry in the world. We picked the almond-apricot, and it turned out to be a sweet sponge cake, filled with apricots, then wrapped in a flaky pastry and covered in powdered sugar. Cronuts be damned, the Germans have cornered the market on the baked-good mash-up.

One thing the festival could use more of, ironically? Beer. In the midst of the Biergarten, beer tents, sweet steins, and every single vendor that served food also pouring beer, the choices were sparse. Paulaner, as a main sponsor, dominates the event. Like some sort of jerk, I asked the guy at the first tent what sort of beer was available. “Light, Dark, and Wheat.” Oh, but. Well. Wheat, obviously, but I was still disappointed. I searched for other options, and did find some in the only building used at the festival, hidden behind ski ball and HD TVs showing college football. But, it was a “Beers of the World” table pouring some Brazilian beer and Tsingtao. Wofür? It would be nice if the überschütten of German-inspired Texas breweries were better represented, or acknowledged, at a gigantic celebration of Germany and beer in Texas.

All in all, though, Addison Oktoberfest did us right. It might not be as tattooed and skinny-jeaned as the downtown festivals, but for a fun afternoon celebrating the arrival of some semblance of fall, it’s still on my annual list. Plus, no one glares at you for pushing a double stroller.

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Sep 23, 2013
Freddie Kitson

Beer, chili and music the stars at festival

SEYMOUR For the third year in a row, a smokin’ good time is on tap, courtesy of the popular Smoke in the Valley craft beer and chili festival.

The annual event, which draws thousands of folks downtown, will take place from noon to 4:30 p.m. Oct. 5. More than 70 breweries will be on hand offering samples of craft beers, along with food vendors, plenty of live entertainment and a chili cook-off. Participating breweries include Charter Oak Brewing Co., Lake Placid Pub Brew, Shocktop, Samuel Adams, Otter Creek, Red Hook, Mike’s Hard Lemonade, Cayman Jack Margaritas, Southport Brewing Co., Thomas Hooker and Woodchuck Hard Cider.

Tickets are $30 in advance and $40 at the gate. Tickets and more information are available at, or by contacting Derek Signore at The festival will be staged on the grounds of the Community Center, 20 Pine St, as well as along the Broad Street Bridge.

Signore said the festival is “like no other in the state,” offering something for everyone.

In addition to beer and chili, festival organizers are thrilled with this year’s musical entertainment, which include national and local touring acts making a return appearance, as well as some newcomers to the stage.

Music Director Matt Bronson said local favorite Kung Fu will headline as part of their fall regional tour. Other main stage headliners include Hubinger Street, fresh off appearances at this year’s Soupstock and SoNo Arts Festivals, in addition to Massachusetts jam band Roots of Creation, who are currently wrapping up their national tour, Bronson said.

Additional performers include Shameless, Charlie Don’t Surf and New Haven favorite IndiGroove, performing on the Bridge Stage.

Signore said the festival has significantly grown since its inception in 2010.

“The Smoke in the Valley Festival has grown organically into one of Connecticut’s leading independent craft beer festivals,” he said. “The festival has earned its reputation by attracting premier breweries, small and large, local and internationally. The festival’s music, beer and chili means there is something for everyone.”

Proceeds from the festival benefit local Seymour youth sports programs, including Seymour Tradition, as well as Seymour fire and emergency services The festival is sponsored by Glenro Sprit Shoppe, Molto Bene, The Sound, Saranac, Home Hearth and 106.9, WCCC radio.

More information about how to participate in the chili cook-off or home brewery contest can be found at

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Sep 20, 2013
Freddie Kitson

Craft beer 2.0: Ballpark Brew Bash raises the standard – INTERVIEWS

When it comes to organizing the beer options for the Ballpark Brew Bash, Consumer’s Beverages art and media director Chris Groves has a few major advantages.

He’s admittedly a long-time veteran of craft-beer festivals—from Boston to California—so he’s witnessed the success and failure of others, storing tips along the way.

Through his job at Consumer’s—which boasts 17 locations and Western New York’s most comprehensive selection of craft beer—Groves has created an expansive network of brewers and both small and large distributors, allowing him to have his finger on the pulse of the craft-beer wave.

Groves and Rob Free, the director of food service operations at Coca-Cola Field, will collaborate on the fourth annual Ballpark Brew Bash between 4 and 8 p.m. Saturday at Coca-Cola Field, 275 Washington St, Buffalo.

Tickets are $35 pre-sale and $40 day-of for general admission, while a limited number of VIP passes run for $75. You can wrangle tickets at any Consumer’s location.

Admission entitles the attendee to 20 tasting tickets, a program and a 3 oz. sampling glass. So, unless you purchase extra tickets for $1.00 apiece, you’ll end up with almost four pints of beer in your system. Don’t fret, because your craft-beer buzz doesn’t have to be tempered—designated drivers can attend the event for $5.

Fifty-eight breweries will all serve at least two beers, but Groves has a bit of a stipulation that will set his festival apart from others.

“We didn’t want the breweries to bring their core beers,” said Groves, who also noted that at most local beer festivals, the vendors choose which beers they’ll bring. “Those [more common] beers can be left for another festival; we want to be a second-level beer festival.

“Sometimes it’s a challenge to get them on board,” he admitted. “They’ll say, for example, ‘But our porter and pale ale make us the most money!’ We wanted to make this different by choosing the beers ourselves, making it an elite event.”

Groves’ preexisting relationships certainly helped sway the decision of breweries, however, and he highlighted a few of the vendors he’s most excited for:

**Brooklyn Brewery: You may have seen the Brooklyn Lager in your craft-beer travels, but the NYC brewery will offer Mary’s Maple Porter, a product of brewer Mary Wiles, who will also direct one of the festival’s four breakout sessions.

The owner of a 500-acre maple farm, Wiles wove her locally produced maple syrup together with her passion for brewing, resulting in a product that is as popular as it is rare. Here’s the Brooklyn Brewery rundown:

Mary’s Maple Porter is a rich, dark ale featuring a large portion of her maple syrup in the kettle. After fermentation by our house ale yeast, the syrup is no longer sweet (yeast likes to eat maple syrup too), but the maple flavor shows through in a complex interplay with caramel, chocolate, and coffee flavors from our blend of roasted malts. An earthy hop note rounds it all out.

These sessions will provide a little more context and history behind the beverages you’re sipping.

**Green Flash’s Green Bullet: A very recently released Triple-IPA from San Diego, Calif., a keg of Green Bullet—the first our area has seen—will arrive at Coca-Cola Field for a 6 p.m. timed tapping.

**The Bronx Brewery: Groves notes that the Bronx Brewery is using the Ballpark Brew Bash as its debut into the Western New York market, and the newcomer’s lineup of pale ales is pretty impressive—a Bronx Pale Ale and Bronx Rye Pale Ale sound ticket-worthy to us.

**Local breweries: Just because Groves has invited brewers from Colorado, Michigan, Vermont, Illinois, California and so forth doesn’t mean he’s omitting local participants. While Flying Bison, Pearl Street and Community Beer Works’ presences will surprise few, the Consumer’s Beverages host adds that Hamburg Brewing Company will bring three beers and Wilson’s Woodcock Brothers Brewery will be on-site as well.

Both hosts noted that the craft-beer vendors will be organized by their home location—Western New York and Central New York beers will find themselves on Coca-Cola Field’s warning track, for example.

While general admission allows visitors to sample these beers and enjoy live entertainment, a full pig roast from Blasdell’s BW’s Smokin’ Barrels Barbecue, a hot sauce challenge from Headstone Heat, local specialties from Charlie the Butcher, Zetti’s and Wardynski’s, VIPs receive even better treatment.

Housed in Pettibones Grill—which overlooks Coca-Cola Field—the VIPs will be treated to even more obscure beers than what’s allotted for general admission, as a variety of rare one-offs—usually in firkins—will be present for sampling. The VIP area has a 200-person limit, and full food stations and 20-25 beers—never before seen in Buffalo, Free said—will be in tow. 

For Groves, a barrel-aged Ommegang keg as well as Crooked Stave’s product—certain beers do improve with age, he affirms—are two of the several highlights and surprises to be enjoyed exclusively by the VIP ticket-holders.

If there’s an authority on American craft beer in Western New York, it’s probably the folks at Consumer’s Beverages—who, along with Coca-Cola Field’s staff, are excited to introduce a next-level craft-beer extravaganza for advanced beer lovers.

“We’re in the position and have the expertise to take risks with our beer list,” Groves said firmly. Enjoy the Ballpark Brew Bash on Saturday evening.

(Photos are courtesy of former freelancer Carrie Scoma from last year’s Ballpark Brew Bash—see the gallery here).

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Sep 19, 2013
Terri Judson

Montgomery Wine Festival, Katy Sip n Stroll celebrate Texas wines

Montgomery Wine Festival, Katy Sip n Stroll celebrate Texas wines

Montgomery Wine Festival, Katy Sip n Stroll celebrate Texas wines

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2008 Brennan Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon

Characteris tics: This red wine has a nose of cherry and currants, with a hint of vanilla, provided by oak barrel aging. This wine has a great mouth feel with a long, lingering finish.

Pairs with: Grilled Texas Steaks

Grown:Texas High Plains

Cost: $17.99 per bottle.

Where: H-E-B grocery stores

Posted: Thursday, September 19, 2013 4:00 am

Montgomery Wine Festival, Katy Sip n Stroll celebrate Texas wines

By Ron Saikowski / Wine WalkAs the weather cools, check out several local and regional wine festivals celebrating one of the greatest grape harvests ever.

As the grape harvest is winding down in Texas, Texas wineries are excited and want to share their wines with you, the Texas wine consumers. Two of my favorite wine events share this weekend. I wish I could divide myself into “halves,” but that will not happen. The local big wine festival will be held in Historic Montgomery starting from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. under the big wine tents. Sixteen Texas wineries will pour their best wines for your pleasure. Pair those wines with Texas foods from a variety of vendors and great Texas music from eight different Texas music groups. Live cooking demonstrations are also in store for you. Free admission is allowed but you will need to purchase tasting tickets and a glass either at the gate or online for a 25 percent discount. For more information on this annual event and to purchase tickets online, go to

I will be traveling to Katy for the “Katy Sip n Stroll” charity event this Saturday where 20-plus wine sampling stations, local restaurant samplings, live music, craft beer gardens and more will benefit the wonderful work of Cinco Charities. There will be special live auction items benefitting Cinco Charities including a special wine tasting for 20 hosted by “yours truly” in the fermentation room of Bernhardt Winery. Special perks come along with this item including wine thieving from my personal oak barrel of Cabernet Sauvignon and possibly from a Bernhardt Port Barrel. Who will be the lucky person to get this? The last time this was offered at a charity event, the bids went up to $5,000! This event kicks off at 5 p.m. and runs through 8. Event sponsor is Kroger’s making the event cost a low $35 per adult and $65 VIP Package per adult. For more information, go to Tickets purchased online are also discounted.

On Sept. 27 and 28, the Texas Reds Steak and Grape Festival will celebrate Texas wines and Texas steaks in historic downtown Bryan. The mastermind of this event is Paul Bonarrigo of Messina Hof Winery. This event is a huge Texas wine event with thousands of wine aficionados sipping on great Texas wines under wine tents and great grilled Texas steaks paired with Texas music! More information will be provided in next week’s wine column.

October is Texas Wine Month

The Texas Department of Agriculture has designated October as Texas Wine Month. This is a great opportunity to enjoy the crisp fall weather along with Texas wines. The nine wineries that make up the Texas Bluebonnet Wine Trail will be celebrating Texas wines with their Sausage and Wine Trail event during the first two weekends in October in Houston’s Hill Country, north and west of Houston. Your October Wine and Sausage trail ticket price of $30 for a single ticket or $50 for a Ticket for Two includes two select wine tastings, paired with a unique sausage dish at each winery PLUS a Texas Bluebonnet Wine Trail glass. The nine Trail member wineries include:

• Bernhardt Winery near Plantersville

• Cork This! Winery in Montgomery

• Messina Hof Winery in Bryan

• Peach Creek Vineyards in College Station

• Pleasant Hill Winery in Brenham

• Retreat Hill Winery Vineyard near Navasota

• Saddlehorn Winery east of Burton

• Texas Star Winery south of Richards

• Windy Winery near the Brenham Airport

When you arrive at your first winery, you will receive a 12- ounce commemorative wine glass to use and keep for all of your tastings. In addition, visit all nine member wineries and that ticket holder will receive a commemorative Texas Bluebonnet Wine Trail two-stage professional wine opener. The value of this ticket is over $85 per person!

Your trail tickets are good on any of the dates, Oct. 5-6 and 12-13, regardless of when you purchase them. Blaze your own trail and pick where you want to start and where you want to end. You have four days over two weekends to visit all nine wineries. The official hours for this event are 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. on Sunday for each trail weekend.

All wineries are open during the official trail hours. Several wineries open earlier or close later than the official hours, so please check the Texas Bluebonnet Wine Trail website for specific winery hours.

Ron Saikowski may be reached at


Thursday, September 19, 2013 4:00 am.

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Sep 19, 2013
Freddie Kitson

Bigger beer festival for 2014

Whistler’s inaugural beer festival is such a success story that organizers and resort partners are already talking about an even bigger and better festival for 2014.

Event co-producer Harrison Stoker said about 2,300 people gathered at Whistler Olympic Plaza to celebrate craft beer on Sept. 14.

“Apparently, there’s a market,” Stoker said after the event.

The hope is to have even more beers available to taste and to offer more covered space to attendees who needed a place to get out of the sun this year — but who might need rain shelter another year.

Whistler’s mayor, Nancy Wilhelm-Morden, was thrilled with the success of the festival.

“Beer festivals are good. I’m from Kitchener, Ontario, the home of the second largest Oktoberfest outside of Munich, so I love beer festivals.”

She added that the success of the festival is further evidence that Whistler Olympic Plaza is proving to be a valuable community asset.

“As we get into more and more programming of the plaza we see opportunities that exist with that facility,” said Wilhelm-Morden.

“It’s fabulous. There are so many things that we can do there.”

But the success of the festival spread well beyond the Plaza — eateries, bars, stores and accommodation providers were busier, thanks to the event as well.

“That’s what we did it for,” said event organizer Liam Peyton of the Gibbons Hospitality Group.

Said James Buttenshaw, Tourism Whistler’s director of planning and partnerships: “We don’t have all of the data yet, but anecdotally speaking, the festival was a huge success.

“This summer has seen impressive results to date,” he added. “The inaugural Whistler Village Beer Festival was a great addition to Whistler’s events lineup, taking place during a time that has historically been quieter than peak months. We’re looking forward to working with festival organizers on next year’s event.”

Whistler RCMP worked with event producers and though there were few issues, some changes are being looked at for next year said Sgt Rob Knapton.

“It was a first-year event, (and) it was very well run,” he said. “There were some learning opportunities and things to change for next year… but nothing that affected public safety.”

Suggestions for changes that the RCMP will discuss with the organizers include spacing the booths further apart to create more room for participants, and ensuring that participating breweries are aware that they can’t serve after the licence expires. As well, the RCMP needs to work on its plans for dispersing a crowd of 2,000 to 2,500 people after the half-hour time allowed, said Knapton.

The festival’s popularity also caused a food-supply issue at one participating partner, The Dubh Linn Gate, which had to suspend food service for a while.

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Sep 19, 2013
Freddie Kitson

The rise of craft beer in LA through photos

During the last two years Wire has captured countless moments at beer festivals, breweries and local bars as L.A.’s craft beer fans reveled around him, and for  L.A. Beer Week Mohawk Bend is featuring this first exhibit of Wire’s beer photography.

The show is a collection of about a dozen large prints displayed in the theater-turned-gastropub’s Ramona Room. The pieces — painstakingly selected by Wire from his library of thousands of images — range from still lifes of brewing equipment and glasses of beer, to shots of the brewers at work and the fans enjoying their end products.

Wire is a well-known figure in the burgeoning L.A. beer scene, and he was often referred to as L.A. beer’s historian and most important documentarian during Monday’s raucous opening. Even though nearly every brewery, beer bar and beer media outlet in Los Angeles was represented among the adoring crowd, the mild-mannered Wire could not have been more humble and thrilled to see such an immense outpouring of support.

“I’m overwhelmed with joy,” he told me in between hugging, toasting and taking pictures with the legion of “beer people” who clamored to congratulate him. Wire says he seeks to “capture the spirit of the craft beer explosion” with his photography, and — as the energy at Monday’s opening attests to — he has certainly made people excited about craft beer and the blossoming scene in Los Angeles.

The “I Shoot Beer People” show runs through Oct. 31; also view Wire’s beer photography at

Mohawk Bend, 2141 W. Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, (213) 483-2337,


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