The Brew Site

The Session #130: Create Your Own Beerfest

This month’s edition of The Session is hosted by friend and fellow beer writer and blogger Brian Yaeger, recently relocated from Portland, OR to Santa Barbara, CA, who is asking us to Create Our Own Brewfest:

I’m honored to be hosting for the second time, first back in 2009, and not unexpectedly have landed on a topic near’n’dear to my heart: beerfests. Your mission, should you choose to accept it (and please, as someone who’s come back to The Session fold, I’m pushing to get 20+ fellow beer bloggers to participate in December, and onward) is to write about how you would design your dream beer festival. Posts are due Friday, December 1.

There are actually so many regional, local, and niche beer fests these days, we’re hearing a bit about “beerfest fatigue.” And I get that. Can you really hit 52 of ’em a year if you live somewhere near Portland, San Diego, Denver, Chicago, Philly, NYC, etc? As someone who attends more than my fair share, sadly not all are created equal, but one I may not care for is probably someone else’s annual favorite.

Finally, end with a note about why you can see trying to make this fantasy fest a reality or why you’ll never advance this idea of yours beyond the Session post!

In addition to being a beer writer, Brian is a beerfest creator/organizer, so he knows whereof he speaks. You can credit (blame) Brian for such events as the Baker’s Dozen (doughnut plus (coffee) beer pairing), Kriekfest, and Rural Brewer Fest. Myself, other than having a hand in launching the SMaSH Fest for Central Oregon Beer Week (for which I ultimately give credit to Brett Thomas of Sunriver Brewing for suggesting the idea) and long dreaming of a gose-inspired beer festival named “Gosepalooza,” have no real practical experience. And at any rate in this day and age of ultra-niche beer events it seems that any idea I think up has already been covered in some form.

However, ignoring that “already been done” nagging voice of doubt, I think the beer festival I would want to create is probably a pumpkin beer fest. Yes, there are a number of them each year around the country already, with the Elysian Brewing Great Pumpkin Beer Fest being the “big one,” but there are a number of facets or variations I would love to try:

Needless to say, unless you’re Elysian, I would think this pumpkin fest would be relatively small simply based on the strong feelings folks have towards pumpkin beers in general. It would definitely be small if it were a homebrew-only fest, simply because of logisitics—you’d have some beers in 5-gallon kegs, you’d have bottles of various types, you might even have growlers. Plus, you actually have to convince homebrewers to brew some pumpkin beers…

Of course this event would have to take place in the fall, probably October, although trying for mid-way between Halloween and Thanksgiving could be interesting. But you need to be timely both to the public’s perception of when “pumpkin season” is, and to the brewer’s who (ideally) will be brewing with real pumpkins.

Okay, the more I think about this, the more I like the idea. I’ll have to ruminate on it some more. Thanks Brian.

Bonus: Another festival idea that came to mind as I was thinking about pumkpin is an American Indigenous Beer/Ingredient Fest. Featuring only beers brewed with ingredients indigenous to the region the brewery is located. Which upon reflection is essentially what Beers Made By Walking is. Perhaps this version could ask breweries to imagine what sort of indigenous beer would have developed in their region, and brew that. (Actual indigenous styles such as California Common and Kentucky Common could be included also.) Who wants to take this one on?