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making HEADlines: Rocky Water Brew Fest

making HEADlines: 

ROCKY WATER BREW FEST, MELBOURNE, FEATURES FLORIDA-ONLY BREWERIES, OCTOBER 14, 2017



Photo by Linda Johnson
Melbourne, FL:  The 4th Annual Rocky Water Brew Fest returns to Eau Gallie Square in the Eau Gallie Arts District in Melbourne on Saturday, October 14, 2017, from 1-5pm.  Presented by the Eau Gallie Rotary, the fest features over 30 Florida breweries. The Florida-only beerfest showcases the state's smaller breweries and gives attendees the opportunity to talk beer with the brewers and owners while sipping on local suds. 

Beer tents will line both sides of Highland Avenue at the intersection of West Eau Gallie Boulevard, and craft beer enthusiasts will enjoy samples of two to four beers at each brewery. Not only does the fest highlight smaller breweries, but the fest itself is intentionally kept on the smaller side, as far as attendance goes, to create a cozy and quality atmosphere for the patrons. "It's about quality, not quantity," says Rick Nemetz, Rocky Water Brew Fest Chair. Brewers bring their choice of beers, which usually include some favorites, as well as new beers that may not have previously left their tap rooms. 



Although there will be plenty of beer at the fest, partner brewery Intracoastal Brewing Company is a couple of blocks away from the fest site for those seeking out more beer and camaraderie afterwards. Chair Rick Nemetz is quick to give the shout-out to John Curtis of Intra (as it's affectionately known) for networking with the breweries during the planning stages. The brewery list includes several newer breweries and two local Space Coast area homebrew clubs.  Although it wasn't (necessarily) planned, the lineup of breweries at this year's fest includes four Florida medalists at the 2017 Great American Beer Festival, which was held in Denver this past weekend: Big Top Brewing (Sarasota), LauderAle (Ft. Lauderdale), Six Ten Brewing (Tampa), and Walking Tree Brewery (Vero Beach). In addition, participating brewery Aardwolf Brewing (Jacksonville) is a 2015 GABF medalist.

Last year, Hurricane Matthew caused the beerfest to be postponed and rescheduled, but the organizers "pulled through" with a lot of hard work, and attendance almost sold out, says Nemetz. The fest format will generally look the same, because "it's working well," he adds.


Rocky Water Brew Fest, 2015. (photo by Linda Johnson)
Matthew curtailed planned attendance in 2016.
The beerfest is all-volunteer based, and funds are generated through sponsorships and ticket sales. Proceeds from the event are distributed by Eau Gallie Rotary to local charitable organizations mostly located in Brevard County or organizations with local chapters. Nemetz started planning the 2017 fest at the beginning of the year, and work on the 2018 fest will begin immediately after the new year.  The fest benefits a great cause and offers beer geeks a chance to interact with the brewers, and, he adds, "The breweries make it!"

Although Matthew interfered with plans to attend last year's fest, this writer made the rounds at the 2015 fest: take a look at the recap.  

In addition to the beer, cider will also be available at the fest. Six food trucks will be on site. Live music will play from the Eau Gallie Square stage all afternoon. Advance tickets are on sale online and at Intracoastal Brewing Company, 652 W. Eau Gallie Blvd., Melbourne, and tickets are limited. Tickets will be available at the gate on the day of the fest, unless sold out earlier.  Note that the ticket includes unlimited beer samplings all afternoon, and that there is no need for a VIP ticket at this fest.

Cheers!
Linda Johnson,
Certified Cicerone®