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AUG/SEP 2005 | REGIONAL | WEST COAST

West Coast Brew Fest Rolls On By The River
By John W. Ostrom

The sixth annual West Coast Brew Fest brought more than 3,000 people to Sacramento’s Miller Park for a warm spring afternoon of craft beer and live music along the river. The May 14 event featured over 40 breweries from throughout the Sacramento region and beyond, as well two local cider-makers.

Held in a shaded park along the Sacramento River, the West Coast Brew Fest offers an almost ideal setting to enjoy an outstanding selection of beers in a relatively low-key atmosphere. As an added bonus, the beers are available in an open tasting format and are generally served by the brewers themselves.

This year, however, the festival was almost a victim of its own success, as attendance jumped over 50 percent from last year, resulting in a long line of ticket holders waiting up to 45 minutes to get in. In response, festival organizer Matson Breakey already has plans for improving access next year, including four entrance stations instead of one and waiting lines located under the trees on the grass, not in the parking lot. Since the event is now at capacity for the site, the number of tickets for next year will be limited in order to keep the event at the park.

The Brew Fest also featured a commercial competition conducted by the Gold Country Brewers Association that recognized winners in 16 categories. From among over 250 beers entered in the competition, breweries with multiple first-place awards included Sequoia Brewing for both its Log Splitter red ale and Sequoia Gold light ale; Coast Range Brewing for its English-style Pale Ale and Maduro Porter; Marin Brewing’s Break Out Stout and Old Dipsea Barley Wine; and Beermann’s for its Expedition IPA and Bourbon Barrel Barley Wine in the specialty category.

Other winners included Sudwerk Helles, Black Beer dark lager from Sacramento Brewing, Moylan’s Tipperary Pale Ale, Lodi Brewing’s Southern English Brown Ale, Belgian White wheat beer from Allagash, Rogue’s Chipotle Ale, Gridiron from Jack’s Brewing, the Three Amigos Belgian Strong Golden Ale from Brew It Up!, and Pomegranate Cider from Two Rivers Cider.

More than just a good time, the West Coast Brew Fest benefits the Make a Difference Project, a nonprofit Sacramento-based organization that supports a variety of civic education programs in the area’s lower-income neighborhoods. The success of the event has led Breakey to organize a second local beer festival to benefit the Fair Oaks Park and Recreation District. The event will be held this coming September in Fair Oaks Village.

Those interested in working as volunteers, judging or attending next year’s West Coast Brew Fest can get information in January for the May event at westcoastbrewfest.com.

John W. "Brook" Ostrom is an associate editor of the Celebrator Beer News. He is a national beer judge and an award-winning homebrewer living in Davis, Calif.

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