Fest of Ale 2014 sets new attendance record

fest of ale 2104 cupThe final ticket tally for Fest of Ale 2014 was 1,600, according to organizer Todd Antz, breaking last year’s record of 1,500.

Update: Antz reports that this year’s Fest raised $13,000 for the WHAS Crusade for Children, well above last year’s $10,000.

The ridiculously beautiful weather sure didn’t hurt things. It was a warm (but not too warm), sunny day, and the thirsty crowds drank plenty of beer and had plenty of fun. The House of Hops returned, still in the Miller Lite and Bud Light trucks (oh the irony), and was joined this year by a next-door neighbor, the Sour Shack.

I tried so many different beers of so many different styles from so many different breweries that palate fatigue was unavoidable. But a couple that forced me to take note were Quaff On’s Crosshair Double IPA, Jolly Pumpkin’s Bam Noire (from the Sour Shack) and Fat Head’s Head Hunter IPA, which came by way of recommendation by Tim Furnash, who was pouring at the House of Hops. I need more Fat Head in my life.

And, as usual, the crowd was a familiar one, which only makes the event better.

As for the record attendance, that’s obviously a good reason this year’s donation eclipsed last year’s mark of more than $10,00. Antz said last year the donation, which goes through the Clarksville Fire Department, was at least a third of the department’s total donation to the WHAS Crusade for Children. Antz said he expects to announce this year’s donation total sometime this week.

Meantime, enjoy the photo gallery …



Another Fun Fest of Ale

louisville beer - fest of ale 2013The Keg Liquors‘ 2013 Fest of Ale sure seemed to be a success — much delicious beer (and wine) was enjoyed, and Louisville area beer nerds came out in big numbers to dodge a few raindrops and support the cause. Todd Antz, the festival’s founder and promoter, said the event raised more than $10,000 this year for the WHAS Crusade for Children. Score.

Of course, the trap of any beer festival (for me, at least) is that after a while, all the hoppy goodness tends to blend together in one’s memory. The taste buds slowly but surely get more and more numb as well, especially if you’re hitting the hops.

Nevertheless, from my hastily scribbled notes, I can see that there were plenty of highlights. For one, I got my first taste of Falls City‘s new APA. All I wrote down was “hell yes,” but I’ll take that as a good sign. Anyway, I’m planning to go to Falls City’s new tap room soon for a look around and some more tasting. I’ll write more when that happens.

I also had a Schlafly beer I’d never tasted before: Export IPA, from the St. Louis brewery’s Special Release series. Talk about some bold hoppiness (65 IBU). According to the Schlafly website, this beer will be available June-September. Get on it.

I also made contact with several Hoosier breweries, which was a lot of fun. It’s pretty amazing how much good beer is being brewed not just here in Louisville, but nearby. I see some brewery-centered day trips in my future.

Anyway, here are a few pics from the 2013 Fest of Ale. If you didn’t make it out this year, hopefully these will inspire you to attend in 2014. Thanks again to the Keg and Todd Antz for holding this event.

Previewing the Fest of Ale and Wine

fest of ale logo - louisville beerThe 8th Annual Fest of Ale and Wine hits Clarksville, Ind., this Saturday, June 1. I can’t decide whether to practice my beer drinking in preparation or to drink nothing but water between now and then so that my system is cleansed for the delicious onslaught. (Chances are, it will end up being a blend of the two …)

Anyway, this year’s event promises 70-plus breweries, five craft beer distributors, six fine wine distributors, somewhere in the neighborhood of 200 craft and import beers, plus wine, food, a charity raffle … and lots of good times and good friends. Last year, the festival raised more than $9,200 for the WHAS Crusade for Children, which is even cooler.

But for your inner beer nerd, you’ll get to sample hundreds of beers from all over the world, be it Great Crescent Brewing from Aurora, Ind., or Paulaner Brauhaus from Munich, Germany. And of course, the Louisville beer staples will be on hand as well, from New Albanian to Falls City. One you will NOT see there this year, however, is Magic Hat. But you probably already knew that. You can even visit the provocatively titled House of Hops while you’re there.

So, to help set the stage, I had a chat with Todd Antz of the Keg Liquors, which puts on the event each year, to get a look into what we should expect when the Fest of Ale and Wine takes place from 3-7 p.m. this Saturday at St. Anthony’s of Padua in Clarksville.

Louisville Beer Blog: Thanks for taking the time to answer a few questions, Todd. For starters, tell me about the House of Hops. What’s that all about?

Todd Antz: The House of Hops is a location at the Fest of Ale that is dedicated to the Hop Head in all of us. It’s that special place where a person can go and blast away their palate with tongue-numbing bitterness.  OK, that might be a bit theatrical, but we designed this as a section of the Fest that is full of only hoppy beers.  Since the start, we’ve had the participating breweries offer up special kegs of some of their hoppiest beers.  This year, a couple that I’m particularly looking forward to are Bell’s Roundhouse Rye IPA and Sun King’s Bitch’n Camaro, another Rye IPA.

louisville beer - fest of ale

“Wait, you mean we’re NOT supposed to taste them all?”

LBB: Sounds delicious. I’ve been reading that 70-plus breweries are scheduled to attend, with roughly 200 beers. How far do you think the average person would make it if they tried to taste them all in an hour?

TA: If someone came into the Fest with a mission like that in mind, they would not make it far.  With so many offerings, we give the attendees a chance to try out something new, to maybe go out on a limb and experiment with a style they are not used to. Honestly, if you find a beer you don’t care for, dump it out and move on to the next.  What we are not about is being an “all you can drink to make a jackass out of myself” fest.  We keep an eye on everyone that is drinking, and if someone gets out of line, or gets a little too much in them, we pull them aside and give them a chance to re-hydrate and get themselves back together.

LBB: Sounds like a good policy to me. Which will be the first booth you’ll visit on Saturday? Do you have an annual favorite?

TA: I always have favorites, and being in the business as long as I have, you make a lot of friends in the industry. I’ve had people like Veronica from Bell’s, who has been part of all eight years of the Fest, and I try to make her my first stop for a ceremonial sampling of their Two Hearted Ale to start the day off.  It’s become a bit of tradition for me. Last year, we started our first timed tapping with a keg of Founders KBS that we tapped at 5 PM. People started lining up at 4:30 to get a crack at one of the best beers in the world, and they went through the keg in 20 minutes. What makes this even more impressive is that we were pouring two-ounce samples, and still went through 5 gallons in 20 minutes.  This year we plan the same thing, but the size of the keg has gone up to 7.75 gallons, so we might last 30 minutes.

LBB: Maybe I’ll get in line now. What would you tell someone about the Fest of Ale who had never attended one before?

TA: The first thing that I recommend is for people to bring fold up chairs, and find a place along the outside border of the Fest to set up. Four hours is a long time to stand around. Always have a ride prepared, whether its a designated driver, cab, but always be safe.  Most importantly is to take your time and have a good time. It’s a very laid back atmosphere, so there’s no need to run around to try everything out as quickly as you can. Most importantly, at least for me, is to remember that it is a charity event.  We do this to help raise money for the Crusade for Children, and everyone has always been most generous when it comes to supporting them.  We have a great raffle of beer related items, gift cards to local restaurants and businesses, and tons of other fun things, so remember to bring cash to help out the cause.