The past two weekends found me at two different beerfests: Florida Craft Brew and Wing Fest in Vero Beach (February 20), and Riverside Craft Beer Festival in Jacksonville (February 27). I did more than sample new beer at each. I experienced my first venture into beer-judging, and then I was back in familiar territory behind the table pouring beer. Happy beergirl.
Besides beer, there's one thing you might notice about each of these festival logos -- both festivals were presented (again) by local Rotary Club chapters. Rotary Chapters are no strangers to the beerfest scene, and the clubs organize beerfests to raise money for distribution to various local charitable organizations. I am pleased to have worked with Rotary Clubs in connection with setting up and/or reporting beer-related events, and I've met some pretty cool Rotarians as a result.
And, as far as these past two Saturdays go, not only did attendees at each fest drink some awesome beer, listen to some great music, and have a good time with friends (or met new ones), they also contributed to fundraising efforts for great causes.
Headed to Vero Beach again...
|It was still early...attendance grew....|
|... As the afternoon went on, more fest attendees!|
The homebrew competition featured 19 entries, including various beer styles, such as stouts, red ales, IPAs, among others. Some creative brews in the bunch! After sampling each beer for aroma, color, taste and off-flavors, ultimately, the three beer judges reached a consensus on the top three spots, in a best-of-show type competition: Brown Rye IPA, Chocolate Imperial Stout, and Sweet Stout. Yeah, it was a tough job, but I'm glad I got to do it! It was my first time judging a beer competition, and it may have put me on the road to pursuing judging further. Not only am I looking forward to doing this again, but I'm also always looking for additional ways to continue beer education!
After judging, I was then able to wander around the fest: sample beer, talk to people, etc. etc.
|Saw the guys from Brevard Ale Works...|
Look for them soon in Brevard County.
The Southern Breakfast Imperial Oatmeal Stout
was a combination of chocolate, coffee, maple, vanilla.
The beer was a hit!
|Ran into Brian from Due South Brewing...|
always a pleasure.... and, a precursor????
|First Light Amber from Sailfish Brewing (Ft. Pierce):|
coffee and cocoa nibs in an amber ale: a good one!
I visited there after the fest two years ago!
I'll be again back soon.
|And how about this 3-Bean Espresso Coffee Milk Stout|
from Side Door Brewing Co. (Port St. Lucie)?
Yeah, the name said it all: dark-roasty-smooth good!
And, another brewery visit for "the list"
|Bubba Wee Heavy from Vero Beach brewery Orchid Island Brewery:|
This was my 1600th new beer checkin on Untappd!
And, a good one it is: caramel taste in a 8.5% brew
|And, another new local brewery in the works:|
Coastal Karma Brewing (Stuart).
Chocolate Starfish: dark chocolate coffee stout:
they got this one right...awesome
The attendance at this fest has grown steadily each year, from 3000 to 5000 to 8000 to an estimated 10,000 this year. The venue space was increased from last year, and the additional stage was added. Look for some of those up-n-comers to be on the "commercial" side next year. And, thanks again to Rotary Club for the beer-judge opportunity!
See you next year, Vero Beach!
Beerfest Under the Bridge in Jacksonville
|Sean from Engine 15 Brewing (Jacksonville Beach):|
explaining the E15 brew pre-opening.
They all turned around for the photo. Say cheers!
Walk a little further onto the grounds, and there were MORE beer tents in double rows and beer trailers covering quite a bit of space:
|Intuition Ale Works (Jacksonville) brought its van.|
|A Twin Finn Lager from Zeta Brewing (Jacksonville Beach):|
Like I said: Under the bridge, along the River!
|I was able to get some: El Bulli Imperial Stout|
from new brewery Central 28 Beer Company (DeBary):
Bitter chocolate, sweet milk stout with good body:
I gave it a thumbs up!
|I think he approved, too!|
|Jax Beer Society at the beerfest!|
Have you joined? There's a member event at
Zeta Brewing, Feb. 29, 5-7pm!
Over 100 beers, 11 food trucks, and arts vendors were on hand. Two highly popular local bands, Grandpa's Cough Medicine and Fire Water Tent Revival, provided foot-stompin music at the riverfront stage. There were plenty of places to sit and eat or drink, along with a number of high-top tables for standing. The aroma of food from the food trucks was enough to drive anyone into a hunger frenzy. And, here, a shout-out to Delish Kebabs: those chicken-and-bacon wrapped kebabs with rice were a culinary delight! After that, it was ready to pour some beer!
|The Florida beers on tap at Draftzilla|
|Thrilled to pour these tasty brews from Due South Brewing!|
Yeah, I've been there once, or twice, or....
(Remember that picture of me and Brian from the week before?)
As always, the last half-hour, and especially the last 15 minutes, of a beerfest are crazy to say the least! As everyone rushed to fill their glasses with more beer, the clock eventually did hit 7pm, and just like that..... another beerfest in the books!
And, amid takedown and cleanup, Draftzilla headed out, back on the road:
As the beer scene in Jacksonville continues to grow, so will the Riverside Craft Beer Festival. The venue provides an easy-to-move-around setting, and the riverfront stage is a great place to enjoy some music! The fest offers local beers as well as beer from elsewhere in the state and across the country.
Mark it on your calendars!
Two more beerfests in two weekends! But, hey, it's only March, and you know there are more beerfests down the road... literally - one near you somewhere.... check my BeerSphere™ Events tab for more beer fests and special events .... I'll even be at a few of those!
Til next time,