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
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
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
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,