It’s that time of year again. It’s Spring and the flowers are blooming, the weather is warmer and festivals are popping up all over the place. There are festivals featuring locally grown produce, like the Blueberry festival a few weeks ago. There are festivals for charities and movements, like the Tree Fest, an annual event to be hosted at the Swamp Head brewery around Earth Day and Arbor Day each year, being held later today. And then there are the Beer Fests, which is what this blog, and this writer are more concerned with.
It truth, in Florida, there are Beer festivals pretty much year round because of the mild weather we enjoy. But for me it starts anew every year with Florida Craft Beer Week which also coincides with the Annual Hogtown Craft Beer Festival here in Gainesville. This year the festival was held on April 16th, again at the Town of Tioga Shopping Center west of Gainesville.
Last year when I attended, the main complaint I had was the line to get in was long and took forever to move through the entrance. This year, while the line wasn’t any shorter (in fact the attendance this year was much larger), the speed that they processed everyone to get in was much faster. Last year took me an hour to get in, this year it was maybe 15 minutes.
With over 110 different breweries and 300 hundred different beers, meads and ciders to choose from there was something to please everyone. I really liked the layout of the different pods for the breweries. They grouped them together by region or type of brewer. For instance, all of the old world breweries were in Pod 1. Pod 2 had all of the breweries that specialized in Meads or Ciders and the home brewers who were displaying their skills. And Pod 3 had the local breweries, pubs and craft beer vendors. Pods 4-9 had the rest of the Florida breweries by Region (Panhandle, East Coast, Space Coast, Jacksonville, Tamps-St. Pete, and the Glades). And Pod 10 had the out of State Breweries that attended.
I believe I sampled over 30 different beers/meads/ciders/hard sodas and decided I had had enough. There were many great examples of many different styles of beer, but if there was one I would want to single out it would be one by a newcomer.
Blackadder Brewing is a new brew pub coming to Gainesville which will feature 40 taps of different beers including some from their microbrewery. I had their Giggling Imbecile which is a Belgian Tripel. And in my honest opinion it is the best Belgian Tripel I can ever remember having! I can see why they won an award for it. Check out their website below:
The only thing I didn’t like is the same thing I don’t like about a lot of beer festivals is that the food vendor’s are all located in one spot. If it were up to me there would be some strategically located throughout the festival so folks wouldn’t have to walk from one end to the other to get food.
Backstreet Blues and Chophouse had a food truck there and since I hadn’t sampled their wares before I decided to try their Pancetta Bites and fries. The fries came out with seasoning and a melted cheese mixture covering them and were delicious. I had to wait a bit for the Pancetta bites. They were good but not great. It may have been the texture but they didn’t really do it for me.
I was glad to see Sweetberries was there with their frozen custard again. I got a treat as this time they served me a float using their fresh made vanilla custard with a hard ginger ale from one of the beer vendors. The combination was awesome! They also have a website you need to visit.
I believe I said last year that if you didn’t make it to the fest you really missed out on some beers and food treats. I see no reason to alter that statement this year. Except to add… “SHAME ON YOU FOR NOT GOING AFTER I TOLD YOU HOW GREAT IT WAS!”
Now… if you’ll excuse, I’m going to the Tree Fest to help plant trees by drinking craft beer. Enjoy your weekend!