It might be a bit of an understatement if I said I was excited to hear that the Shelton Brothers Importers has announced they will be holding “The Festival US” in Portland, Maine this June. Last year The Festival was held in Worcester, MA, and had a rockstar line up of brewers in attendance. I was here in Maine, watching all the Untappd Checkins and Twitter updates from friends, beer bloggers and even my wife, yes that’s right, my wife got invited to go with a friend. So because I didn’t think it was appropriate for me to tell you how awesome this brewfest was, and how you should attend this year, I’ll turn things over to my guest blogger and wife, Jessica, to tell you what she thought of last year’s “The Festival US”.
Last June my friend Wendy was lucky enough to win two tickets to the first “The Festival “ at Mechanic’s Hall in Worcester, MA through a Twitter contest put on by Beer Advocate. Knowing my love of beer and that I’ve been to lots of brewfests she invited me to join her.
We made plans to be in Worcester at least an hour before the festival doors open. This gave us time to find parking
and a snack before getting in line for the festival. We were very lucky; the weather was perfect which made waiting in line for almost an hour comfortable. About a half hour before doors opened festival staff came out; they checked IDs, scanned tickets and put bracelets on us. At noon the doors opened and the crowd slowly moved inside Mechanic’s Hall where we were given our tasting glass and a map of the facility. We headed up to the second floor and stopped at the first booth we came to, it was Oliver’s Cider & Perry out of England. We had our glasses filled and found a spot to check out the map. I’ll admit I was at a loss without Chad. This was the first brewfest I’d been to without him; I don’t normally look at the list of brewers or what they have because he points me in the right direction. I checked though the list looking for something that stood out, I had no idea what I was looking at because I hadn’t heard of many of the breweries. We started trying whatever sounded interesting, most of the time we made good picks. After having a few samples on the second floor we headed up to the third, we were in the concert hall; this has to be one of the most beautiful spaces I’ve ever been in.
We tried some more samples then decided it was time to head downstairs and find the food trucks. They had the street behind Mechanic’s Hall closed off and it was full of food trucks. This is where I made what is normally a huge brewfest mistake, I dropped my glass! I thought my pocket was big enough for the glass but I moved just right and it fell out, I figured I was done sampling for the day. I picked up the pieces and headed in to where they were giving out glasses when we first entered, I showed them my broken glass and told them what happened. They understood and handed me a new glass, the glass was in my hand or on a table from this point on. I think I tried around 25 beers, which seems like a lot but you only got 2oz samples and some of what I tried was just a sip of what Wendy had. I had beers from all over the world; Brasserie Cantillon (Belgium), Yeastie Boys (New Zealand), Mikkeller (Denmark), Brasserie Dieu du Ciel (Montreal) just to name a few.
One thing that was wonderful about this festival was the number of people; they kept attendance to 1000 per session which means if you had to wait in line it was a short line. Thanks to the low number of attendees you also had a chance to talk to the brewers. I’ve been attending brewfests for almost 10 years and in that time I’ve learned not to expect much from a festival in its first few years. It’s rarely organized, there’s always a lack of food, and the staff always seems clueless. This was not the case with The Festival; they were out early getting people ready to enter, there was a ton of food, everything from BBQ, vegan dishes to froyo and the staff knew what was going on and where things were. If you can get to Portland and get a ticket (this WILL sell out) I’d highly recommend attending The Festival in June you won’t find a beer selection like this at any other festival.
I don’t have a lot of information about this year’s event but from what I’m gathering it’s Friday June 21st and Saturday June 22nd, three sessions total, one on Friday and two on Saturday, It sounds like tickets will be $60 per session. If you want to attend this event keep an eye out for announcements regarding tickets going on sale, I would not be surprised if this event sells out.