Craft Brew Circus Coming to Town

craft brew circus 2016 2Beer events are a big deal, and they’re growing faster than Yakima hop bines in July. According to a recent post by Evenbrite, the world’s largest self-service ticketing platform, they were up 59% from 2014. Beer festivals, in particular, saw a 26% increase in the number of tickets sold per festival.

Millennials, the largest age group pushing these trends, expect a lot. Like all festival goers, they want a strong selection of local beers, and the opportunity to talk with knowledgeable brewery reps, if not the brewers themselves. These days, they also expect draws like food, music and entertainment.

EventWerks, which has been producing large events like car, wine and music festivals in southern California for twenty years, saw the trend and jumped in last summer. The outdoors August 1st I-15 Brew Fest in Temecula featured 55 breweries and drew 1000 participants.

Craft brew circus 2016 1

This year, EventWerks’ co-founders, Forrest Melton and Rich Goodwin, have expanded the concept to four Craft Brew Circuses, kicking off the series on April 9 in one of the biggest craft beer cities in the country: San Diego.  As of last week when I contacted Melton, the number of participating breweries stood at 40+ for an anticipated 1200 guests. By today’s standards, that’s not a large count, but honestly, how many two-ounce samples can you drink in three hours and still walk a straight line?

craft brew circus 2016 Jenga towerSmart beer fest organizers offer food options beyond pretzel necklaces, and EventWerks has gone the food truck route with choices ranging from burgers and hot dogs to Mexican and Thai. What Melton really gets excited about is the entertainment. “We are bringing in an emcee, ringleader that will be hosting games and moving the crowd to interact. The kickball club will be there playing games, DJ will be spinning records, Hula Hoopers, fire-breathers, stilt walkers, contortionists, cigar lounge, giant Jenga and beer pong.”

While I didn’t make it to last year’s I-15 Brew Fest, I’ll throw in a caveat that most serious and educated craft fans probably already know. If you’re looking for rare beers—say a farmhouse ale fermented with wild bacteria and refermented with cherries in used brandy barrels—these mega fests usually aren’t the best place to find them. You also probably won’t have too many five-minute conversations with the brewers or whoever’s pouring. And if you’re from the San Diego area, there may not be too many beers you’ve never tasted.

craft brew circus viking hatsBut there’s a whole lot to like about the Brew Circuses. First off, the prices. Tickets, sold through—you guessed it—Eventbrite, start at a reasonable $40 for the early-bird special (15 days prior to the event) $60 for VIP. With the San Diego Circus a week and a half away, those prices are now $50 and $70, still a good deal.

If you’re not an area resident, beer fests are always a great opportunity to get to acquainted with a lot of the local breweries and their beers. And who doesn’t like a fun afternoon outdoors, especially when good beer and good company are involved? Local folks, call up that special girl or guy or your buddies, or treat your significant other to a relaxing afternoon in the SoCal sun.

Craft brew circus 2016 beer photoIf you can’t make the San Diego Circus, there are three more to choose from, all in fun cities that offer a lot more to see and do.

SANTA BARBARA, CA – JUNE 11TH

ORANGE COUNTY, CA – JUNE 25TH

LONG BEACH, CA – SEPTEMBER 10TH

CHECK OUT LAST YEAR’S I-15 BREW FEST!

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