May 20, 2013

A look at "The AmeriCAN Canned Beer Festival"

OK, I am going to try and keep this as brief as I can. However, given my penchant to ramble on and on when I get excited, this might be tough! Anyone that attended the 3rd Annual AmeriCAn Canned Beer Festival this passed weekend, will now why I am excited. In a word, it was awesome! OK, I've been to festivals that had a bigger selection of beers, and breweries, maybe a wider array of beers sure. This festival however, had an awful lot of things that most others do not! Where do I begin???

OK, lets start from the beginning  My wife and it got there right about noon, when the gates opened. We grabbed our tickets, and waited in the line to get in. I have to say, I got a little nervous right off the bat when I saw the line to get in. It was long! As soon as we got in line, we started hearing people complaining about the line. Much to our relief, the line moved rather quickly, and we were standing in it for maybe 10 or 15 minutes, so, not bad at all. Besides, as my experiences with beer festivals, I figured waiting in line was something we should probably be ready to do a lot of this afternoon. Well, I was soon to learn, that the short, 10 minute wait to get it, was by far, the low point of the afternoon!
The stage

Upon walking in, we were handed our little (maybe) 4 oz topless tasting can, and "passport" with a map of the festival. There was a rather large crowd mingling right at the entrance, so we made our way through, walking down the sidewalk a couple of dozen yards, where the festival opened up into a large, grassy area with a little hill, circled by brewery and vendor tents, with a nice sort of pond/water feature in the middle of it, with a good size stage placed half over the water, where various bands played throughout the afternoon.
One of the first thing I said to my wife upon seeing this was "what a PERFECT spot for a beer festival!" It was green, and opened, with a ring of tree's circling it, provided a pretty decent amount of shade
for the brewer's and volunteers pouring samples for the thirsty masses. The weather didn't hurt matters either. Calling for a high of 92 that day, it couldn't have been much warmer then the high 80's when we got there, with a nice breeze blowing to help keep you cool(er). Really, you couldn't have designed a much nicer day for an outdoor festival.

We started making our way around to the various breweries, and were happy to find (or rather not find) any real lines at any of the tents. I never had to wait for more then 2 or 3 people to get my sample, and even got to stop and chat with a few of the brewer's and reps pouring as well. Everyone seemed to happy, and excited to be there, and were gracious, and accommodating to everyone that I saw. I was able to get about a dozen or so samples, all of beer I had never tried before, and in a few cases, never even heard of. All the beer was nice and cold when served. In a few cases, I walked around and let it warm a bit before drinking, but with the weather, and the sun, this only took a minute or so in those cases.

Beer for Brains
Me with James Swann

My wife and I were able to walk around, take in the sights, sounds and smells of the festival. Taking our time to chat with some friends and acquaintances we saw there. Got a chance to catch up with Louis from Beer for Brains. We ran into Brett Dettler of Arizona Wilderness Brewing. Of coarse, got to say a quick hello to James Swann as well, pouring beer for Mudshark, and as normal, he had a line of enthusiasts waiting to chat with Arizona's always friendly beer guru.

Santa Fe Brewing

Cigar City
We were lucky enough to meet some other folks there I had yet to meet. I finally got a chance to meet and chat with John "Hoppymoto" Alvarado, owner of Arizona Brewery Tours, someone I have been wanting to meet for a while now. If you get a chance, please check out his business, it looks awesome, and hope to join a tour here very soon, so I can give you a first hand account of it.
Marble Brewing, NM
Also, had a chance to meet and chat with the fine folks at Santa Fa Brewing, and Cigar City (FINALLY got a chance to try Jia Alai, fantastic!), and Marble Brewing.  I will add, I think the best beer I had on this great afternoon of great beer, was Golden Road's Wolf Among Weeds, a spectacular Imperial IPA that made me almost double take on my first sip!

What I love about beer festivals like this, is getting to chat with folks that make the beer, they obviously love it, and are passionate about it. Which is one of the reasons I love drinking local beer. You learn so much more from someone that got their hands dirty making the very beer you are drinking. I love this part of festival's like this the most!

I will say this again, this was a great festival! I still think maybe Arizona Strong Beer Festival might be the
The Beer Czar
best beer festival in Arizona. However, I can see the AmeriCAN Festival taking its place in the years to come. With the popularity and acceptance of canned beer in the craft beer community, and more and more breweries opening up each year, and canning their beers, there is no reason to believe that this festival can't continue to grow, and improve in the years to come. Let me also ad, while hard core beer folks love this festival,  I think this festival would be a great experience for anyone new to the beer community, or looking to get into it. Or even just those casual beer fans that like beer, like to try different beers and aren't afraid to branch out out a bit.

A hat tip to San Tan Brewery, and HDE Agency for putting on just a phenomenal festival. I am looking forward to next year already!!!

Well done, and thank you for giving Arizona one more reason to take pride in our beer community!

Until next time
Bottoms up my friends!

The Beer Czar

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