The first Tucson Springfest Beer Festival took place on April 20 at the Rillito Park Race Track. Except for a little wind, it was a great day with excellent beers to sample.
Jerry Gantt, the executive director of the Arizona Craft Brewers Guild, which sponsored the event, said it "went well."
While he was hoping for 2,500 attendees and 1,000 showed up, he said "it was a good experience for the people who attended."
The attending brewers were happy with the event, he said, and they are planning for 2014 in the same time frame. He said they may change the hours to later in the day, but were happy with the location.
The participating breweries were mostly from Arizona, but there were several from California. Hop City Brewing of Brampton, Ontario (Toronto area), Canada got the prize for the most distant brewery. Dale Seidner represents the line and said Arizona is "a good state for Canadians and beer in general." Hop City's signature Barking Squirrel is available at Total Wine & More, and Seidner said it would be in grocery stores in June.
Goose Island from Chicago (and owned by Budweiser) tapped its Bourbon County Stout midway through the afternoon. It must have been pretty good as there was a long line waiting for samples. Fate Brewing from Scottsdale had a tasty habanero beer.
Sentinel Peak Brewing Company served a brew that was made at Borderlands Brewing Company. Sentinel does not have its brewing license yet, so it cannot publicly distribute its beer. It is still looking at an August opening on East Grant Road at North Swan Road.
I have some free, unsolicited advice for next year's festival: tighten up the entire layout. The brewers area, the band, the tents with tables and the food carts were too far apart.
Rather than one location for water, have at least a couple. Lower the price. Lower the price: $30 or $40 is too pricey for four hours and $10 for a designated driver is a bit steep, too.
Those items aside, congratulations to the guild. The racetrack is a great location and having so many mostly Arizona craft brewers at one location is good for Tucson and the guild. See you there next year.
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The New York Times recently reported on the "wine-ification" of beer, referring to the size of beer containers.
Traditionally beer came in 12- (or sometimes 11-) ounce cans or bottles. Now many craft brewers produce 22-ounce bottles ("bombers") and 16-ounce cans ("pounders").
"We do believe in the future of this format," said Sam Calagione, who is the founder and CEO of Dogfish Head in Delaware, which is known for unique beers. He was also the subject of a reality TV show about Dogfish Head.
Paul Pedersen writes a monthly column on Tucson's beer scene. Contact Paul Pedersen at email@example.com