For those not yet indoctrinated into the world of craft beer, the term “beer fest” is likely one that evokes images of Munich during Oktoberfest or something else in the realm of drinking for the sake of consumption.
In every one of these articles, we’re searching for deeper meaning, however. For our discussion here, we’ll be exploring beer fests in the sense of discovery, education, shared interests, and time spent broadening what the world of craft beer can mean to you.
Beer fests of late—those with goals such as those I’ve just mentioned—are built around a four- or five-hour experience where fest-goers pay a nominal fee in exchange for a fantastic day spent with brewers, brewery owners, beer zealots, and others just like yourself who are out to learn.
Sure, it’s entirely possible to spend your time at a beer fest tasting four-ounce samples at a rate that would be staggering to most. But those little four-ounce samples—the overall number of which is usually determined by your own tolerance of the day’s fun—are geared to allow you to taste a broad spectrum of breweries, particular styles, and unusual offerings, all under the auspices of fest organizers eager and ready to help you understand the particular pour. They bring along history, anecdotal information, and an introduction to the people and the culture behind the world that has become craft beer.
So are there beer festivals that exist locally that offer such learning opportunities? Absolutely. And the better fests out there actually provide for cab rides home and other people-friendly elements geared to not only get and keep your interest in craft beer, but to ensure you’re fully enjoying yourself and able to return to the next fest!
Nearly every single weekend in the Omaha area you’ll find some sort of beer or craft beer-related event. I draw a distinction because beer in general can be anything—imports, macro brands, and macro brands made to look like American-made small-batch craft beer. Both are good but, in my opinion, you’ll find the true culture embedded in the little brewery owner doing his best to get you to notice.
Timing is everything, so if you’re up for an afternoon of smiles, check out Sunfest in late July, which is put on by the folks at The Crescent Moon, 36th and Farnam streets. Or check out the Great Nebraska Beer Fest in late August in Papillion. You might also check in with some of your local Hy-Vee Wine and Spirits guys, as they have numerous educational mini-fests running quite often. I think you get the point though…Get out there, sample a few brews, and learn a little!
And as always, drink responsibly and designate a driver.