Reposted from my blog: Malted Musings.
Rentschler field, in East Hartford Connecticut, was the hosting location of the 2nd Annual Rising Pint Brewfest. The 'fest featured over 70 breweries including Connecticut breweries Relic Brewing, Williantic Brewery, Tullycross Tavern, Olde Burnside, City Steam, Thomas Hooker Brewery, Calvary Brewing, The Hartford Better Beer Company, Cottrell, Beaver Beer, and New England Brewery. The weather was perfect, with large crowds filing into the outer rim of the arena, and the beer flowing free.
|Some of the offerings from Thomas Hooker Brewery. Courtesy: JAdametzPhotographer|
It was a well organized event and the crowds were exceptionally friendly. This was probably due in part to tons of beer, perfect weather, and a moderate State Trooper presence (as Rentschler Field is state property, Troopers have to be present at such events). All of the booths were set up in a gigantic horseshoe, running behind the stands overlooking the field. The setup made for great shade, and plenty of room for the voluminous crowd to move around.
In total there were just under 1,100 attendees. This was a vast increase from last year, when only between 300 and 400 attended. Proceeds from this year's fest went to the Arthritis Foundation New England and Folds of Honor. Live bands made sure that there was music going for the entire day, and Firebox, Plan B, The Grilled Cheese Truck, Beachland Tavern, Baronet Coffee, and several other restaurants and eateries made sure that no one went hungry.
|The guys from the CT Beer Trail. Courtesy: JAdametzPhotographer|
Talking to Heather Schold, the creator of the event, she agreed that the day went of spectacularly. According to her there was a drastic increase of interest between last year and this year, with the greater attendance and more vendors making this a stellar event. Schold really focused on the craft beer community as a whole for this event, not just showcasing the distributors that she typically is involved with. For instance she got involved with Brett Hollander, the Hartford Distributors Inc. craft beer manager, to further connect with the greater craft beer community even though HDI isn't directly represented by her.
The end goal, says Schold, was to have an event that helps grow Connecticut's craft beer scene, and further develops the community of beer fans. Building this up will increase traffic of people into CT to explore it's local breweries, and also increase the traffic of residents into their local beer stores to try the new craft brews. Building this influx is a goal for Schold. Connecticut has a good beer scene, according to Schold, but it just needs expansion and awareness. Events like the Rising Pint Brewfest is one way that other beer fans in CT meet, experience new beer, and organically build a strong culture.
|View of the stage. Courtesy: JAdametzPhotographer|
Schold is already planning next year's Brewfest. For additions Schold wants Yellow Cab to be on call for the fest, so when someone needs a ride, all they have to do is walk out to the curb. Other ideas include a BBQ and homebrew beer competition. Schold is actively planning the event and is searching for more ways to make next year's Rising Pint Brewfest bigger, better, and more connected to the greater Connecticut community.
|A portion of my table. Not pictured: all three Chimay varieties. Courtesy: JAdametzPhotographer|
For this event I poured for Chimay. Though pouring for a big fest like this is definitely a full day's work, the experience ends up being equally as fun as just attending. I showed up a hour early to pick up my name tags, setup my booth, and organize my samples. This time the distributor I pour for included not just Chimay for me, but also several other big import names to pour (such as Samuel Smith), so I had the smug satisfaction of a table full of super-high quality beer. Even though I love local and craft beer, there's nothing that compares to real Belgian beer. Quickly reviewing my tasting notes on the beers and organizing the rest of my pouring supplies, I eagerly awaited the thirsty crowd.
As people began trickling in, I made sure that my openers, tasting cups, and samples were all lined up and ready. By the time 30 minutes had gone by I hit my groove. Suddenly the history of Chimay was flowing freely, I recommended tasting notes and ideas to the patrons with ease, and I generally hobnobbed and dispensed as much beer knowledge as I could muster. Everything was going great, until someone asked to try some of the Framboise Raspberry Lambic that was on my table. Not really thinking I said, "Sure," tore off the foil, and remembered (and saw at this point) that it was corked!
|City Steam Brewery's Table. Courtesy: JAdametzPhotographer|
Now I came with plenty of bottle openers, cleaning supplies, tasting cups, swag, and the like: but bringing a decorker never even occurred to me! Apologizing profusely I recommended another beer on the table that they ended up being really happy with (the Sam Smith's Apricot). Not wanting to be stuck again, I offered a bounty for a decorker to a few beer fans who were hanging out by my table discussing the particulars of tasting profiles: I would offer a bottle opener (that Chimay gave me to distribute where I saw fit) to the person who could bring me a decorker.
Not 15 minutes went by when someone came to my table, gave me a grin, and presented a travel decorker with a grand flourish. I thanked them profusely, coughed up a bottle opener as a reward, then cracked the corks on my lambic. The rest of the day went smoothly, with plenty of people trying plenty of beer, and tons of beer people engaging in thrilling malted discussions. Finally, at 5 PM, we began to tear down. I chatted with the vendors around me, and we helped each other dispose of our open samples. Then the boxes were broken down, everythingwas packed onto my hand truck, and I wheeled my way out of Rentschler field.
|The cool-looking growler from cool new brewery Relic. Courtesy: JAdametzPhotographer|
Though tired from working 6ish hours on a Saturday (after a full week of work), there's nothing really like pouring great beer, and talking about the finer points of said beer to those who really appreciate it! For more pictures of the event, check out Jere Adametz's Flickr page. Also follow me on Facebook, Blogger, and Twitter and I will keep you up-to-date to events happening in CT, and events that I will be pouring. I highly recommend checking out CT Beer Trail to keep current with any beerfests coming up, and then I highly recommend you to go to as many 'fests as you can because they are a blast!