It was a grand old time down on the Jersey Shore this weekend as Hooch & Hops made a road trip to the 7th annual Atlantic City Beer and Music Festival. It would have been hard not to have a good time as over 70 local and national breweries showed up along with a handful of sausage and sandwich slingers.
Among the 70 plus breweries were craft heavy hitters such as Dogfish Head, The Boston Beer Company, Sierra Nevada, and Stone Brewing Company. What makes these regional beer festivals great is that you get to meet smaller brewers who are trying to show they have what it takes to make it in an increasingly competitive market.
Yards Brewing, famous for their Ales of the Revolution, is a great example of smaller regional brewers making a name for themselves by delivering high quality craft beer and having a well thought out plan for growth. Yards’ truly inspired trio of historical ales was on display at the beer fest and shows why these guys from Philly are quickly expanding their reach.
Unibroue, our friends from Montreal, were serving up Terrible and Ephemere Apple, a Belgian strong dark ale and a White Ale brewed with apple must. As a side note, the Ephemere is a great beer to use as an intro beer for wine drinkers who may be open to a craft experience.
Beer festivals usually have a whole slew of non-beer related vendors present to supplement all of the hoppy wonderfulness. The highlight of this years non-beer vendors were several BBQ and hot sauce vendors and the indomitable Mr. and Mrs. Jerky. It would not be an exaggeration to say that Mr. and Mrs.Jerky had some of the longest lines at the event. Here they are taunting me with their salty sweet teriyaki beef strips.
The bottom line with beer festivals is that if you pace yourself nicely and stay well hydrated you can expose yourself to a bevy of new breweries and beer styles. If you get to these events early and leave a little bit early you can avoid the end of the day drunks. I have to say, everyone at the AC Beer and Music Fest was in tremendous spirits and I did not see anyone acting out of turn. Look around in your hometown to see if any beer fests are popping up. Go meet your local and regional brewers. It will make you craft beer experience that much richer.