By Cameron Rasmusson
Let’s be honest: It’s easy to love beer. But not everyone loves it in the same way.
See, a guy like me goes for the superficial qualities—if it tastes good and has a bit of a kick, I’m in. Then there are the aficionados, the people who know beer down to its individual ingredients and understand how tough it is to brew a perfect batch time after time.
No matter whether you’re painfully shallow or have a more intimate connection to your favorite porters and IPAs, there’s room for you at Sandpoint BeerFest. For the third year, this celebration of artisanal brewing is bringing the community together to appreciate the latest and greatest in the world of beer. It all happens this Saturday, July 9, 12-5 p.m. near Trinity at City Beach.
“I am amazed and intrigued by the beer business,” said Kate McAlister, president of the Greater Sandpoint Chamber of Commerce. “We certainly have come a long way from the basic brands everyone used to buy.”
Like other beer festivals, Sandpoint BeerFest is set up to promote variety as the spice of life. Attendees buy tokens to trade for beer—one for a four-ounce sample and three for a full glass. Folks can pick up the full tasting package with a souvenir pint glass, beer koozie and six tokens for $20. Otherwise, $10 is good for six tokens, and $2 will get you one token, root beer or bottled water. The pint glass and “brewsy” are also available separately for $6 and $5, respectively.
When the crowd gets hungry, Trinity will be on hand to serve up some delicious pulled pork sandwiches. And from 1:30-4:30 p.m., Still Tipsy and the Hangovers will provide some lively musical entertainment. And responsible drinkers will be glad to know Bonner Taxi is offering complimentary taxi service within a 10-mile radius from 3-5 p.m.
BeerFest has grown from year to year, and for the latest trip to Trinity, the Greater Sandpoint Chamber of Commerce has lined up more than a dozen breweries for attendees to sample. With 24 beers, two ciders and one root beer between them, there’s plenty to keep beer lovers busy throughout the day.
“Just like those who enjoy different wines, those who drink beer like a variety as well,” McAlister said. “There are a lot of sophisticated beer drinkers in the world, and they have cultivated palates when it comes to different hops, brewing techniques [and] infusion of flavors.”
BeerFest has become a terrific showcase for Sandpoint’s local breweries. MickDuff’s Brewing Company and Laughing Dog Brewing are notable success stories within the highly competitive world of artisanal brewing. McAlister said both breweries are a major asset in promoting Sandpoint as a tourist destination.
“We are lucky in our small area to have two of the most popular brew pubs around,” she said. “Laughing Dog and MickDuff’s have expanded and continue to grow as each year goes by which adds to our local economy and continues to attract tourists. Tourists really like that both beer halls allow them to bring their dogs.”
“Even better, all the local breweries seem to attract a different customer offering something for everyone,” McAlister added. “I also feel with our area being a tourist destination, the breweries have brought in a lot of new people. I have friends who do nothing but go to all the different breweries in the Northwest, and all over the United States. Like those who go on wine tasting tours, the breweries offer ale trails to follow and explore.”
Of course, with beer festivals, “the more the merrier” is the operating principle, and BeerFest wouldn’t be BeerFest without out-of-town guests.
This year, Ballast Point Brewing and Spirits, Downdraft Brewing, Mad Bomber Brewing Company, Orlison Brewing Company, Post Falls Brewing Company, River City Brewing Company, Slate Creek Brewing Company, Summit Cider, Waddell’s Brewing Company and 12 String Brewing join the mix to expand a beer lover’s options. For locals, it’s the best chance of the year to get a taste of the broader brewing culture.
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