It’s bad luck to call your event “1st Annual” but I hope that’s what this was. We look forward to the 2nd Annual Hogtown Craft Beer Festival at Kanapaha. Very much.
We’ve been attendees and fans of the Greater Gator Beer Fest for some time, but when faced with a choice, decided to try the new one at Kanapaha rather than the GGBF a few weeks earlier at Magnolia Park. Sorry, we did have to choose for financial reasons, and we’re glad we chose this one.
Not that it was perfect. Next year they’ve got to figure out the food situation. Guests were invited to buy a ‘Food Pairing’ ticket for an additional $15 (or purchase food separately), but at the end of the day the vendors were just giving their food away to anyone. The food area was also somewhat separated from the beer tasting field, so it was awkward. And the absolute worst offence was the choice of food vendors. There was a surprising list of out-of-town vendors, and an alarming vacuum of vegetarian options. So even though we brought cash to buy food, I ended up diving into the emergency crackers in my purse.
Other than that, and a few first-time kinks, the event was a lot of fun. Not only was it NOT in a parking lot, but it wasn’t saturated with Budweiser and Busch displays run by skinny girls in tube tops. There were plenty of craft breweries representing their art. There was shade to stand in, grass and chairs to sit on, and even live music off to the side. Some of the small breweries even had their actual staff (and brew masters) pouring the beer and talking about it like it was something they knew about.
It was nice to see some absolute favorites there, and we bee-lined for Victory Brewing’s table first thing, and then two steps over to Southern Tier. We stopped at Cigar City, SweetWater, and Swamp Head because we are fans. And we lingered at Mile Marker (wish they had the Coconut Porter), Stone Brewing (Levitation Ale was tasty), and Magic Hat (Elder Betty was interesting). That’s not to say it was all fun and games.
Cheers to Orlando Brewing Partners for their offering of organic brew, but there weren’t a lot of developed flavors to be found. With so many things to try, I can promise that the grass was watered with some unwanted beer from a few people drinking for quality rather than quantity.
Many of the breweries at the Festival are available at bars and pubs around town, so it wasn’t all new to the beer-lovers in our group. But there were smaller breweries that are up and comers. Mile Marker is a brewery in St. Augustine we never heard about and fully intend to visit on our next road trip. Not only were their brews intriguing and the team behind the table friendly, come on… it’s like an hour’s drive away. How could you not? Each of their offerings at the Festival were tasty.
Another note about the event was that instead of being jam-packed with college youths trying to get drunk, there were tons of locals and beer-lovers out an about. The Man and I generally run into a lot of people we know, but this was wall-to-wall locals. The event staff allowed designated drivers to pay the garden entry fee and get a DD bracelet so they could hang out with (and watch over) their friends. Plus it was Kanapaha for the love of god. How could you not have a good day?
Highly recommend you keep your ears to the ground for next year’s event and buy your tickets immediately.