I-15 Brew Festival — The Future?

I-15 Brew Festival flyer

Yesterday morning, when I sat down to write this post, the topic was how the craft beer industry has conditioned its consumers to constantly expect more. Remember the old TV show, “Cheers” that took place in a Boston bar? It might have been a place where everybody knew your name, but did anybody ever talk about the names or styles of the beers?

Did Norm ever walk into and say, “I’d like that seasonal Belgian-style farmhouse ale, Sam?” Or did John sidle up to the bar and tell Diane, “I’ll take the cask-conditioned oatmeal stout today?” It was always just, “Gimme a beer.” Today, whether it’s beer, electronic devices or music, we have so many more options than Norm and John did 25 years ago. Now it’s, what will the local brewpub or Apple or Taylor Swift do next to impress us?

Back to yesterday morning. As I was writing, a comment on last week’s post came in (see “Recent Comments” on the sidebar). Someone named Forrest Melton wanted a mention for the I-15 Brew Festival. Curious, I clicked on the link. The website was impressive, very professionally designed, and the photo of the fire eater got my attention. Then I spotted the Facebook link—and the 8,811 likes! I picked up the phone and called Forrest Melton.

The first ever I-15 Brew Festival will take place 6:00-10:00 pm, August 1 at Galway Downs in Temecula, California and carries the tagline, “This is going to change everything.” Pretty big statement. “Beer events have kind of gone stale, East or West Coast,” Melton told me. “There’s very little entertainment. Just sip your 3 or 4 ounces of beer and get in line at the next booth. We’re trying to up the game, up the production.” He talked about stilt walkers and sword swallowers, pretzel necklaces with neon lights and a get-lit contest for booths with the top 3 winning $1000 each. “We’re spending $10,000 on entertainment,” he said. “We’re hoping to have 60-70 breweries and keep the lines for beer short.”

Beer festivals—average ones—require tons of work, organization, coordination and money. It would be tempting to think Melton might be a huge dreamer getting in over his head. Except for those Facebook likes (which were up to 8,839 by the time I hit this paragraph). And then there’s Eventwerks, the company he owns with partner Rich Goodwin. “We renamed it 4 years ago,” Melton said, “but we’ve been in business since 1996.” These guys routinely put on SoCal mega events—car shows, concerts, barbeques. Next weekend in the Food, Wine and Music Festival in Dana Point.

It was a matter of time before an Eventwerks or an outfit like them applied their ideas to a beer festival. And they’re doing it at very reasonable prices, $40-60 for regular tickets, $60-70, VIPs. They seem to have their bases well-covered. “You’re not worried about people drinking a lot of beer and then driving on highways at night?” I asked.

“We’ll have shuttles and Uber and taxis,” Melton said. They’re still working on shuttle routes, but plan for one between Galway Downs and downtown Temecula. Another will run between Galway Downs and the Pechanga Resort and Casino.

By the end of yesterday, Temecula seemed further away from Boston than I’d ever realized.

I-15 Brew Festival Logo

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