Suwanee Beer Fest Review: Bigger and Better!
Story and photos by Tonya Vots, correspondent
The 2012 edition of the Suwanee Beer Fest featured more than 200 brews, attracted 5,000 people and was a winner for a second year. The first edition of this festival was held a mere eight months ago, on an unbelievably sweltering day. Post fest, patrons heaped compliments on the organizers but begged for either an earlier or later date so the day might be more enjoyable. The organizers listened and went above and beyond to enrich this beer fest experience.
On March 31, The Suwanee Beer Festival returned to uber-manicured Town Center Park in Suwanee, Georgia. Surrounded by music from the amphitheater, a slight spring breeze under semi-overcast skies and temperatures in the mid-70s kicked off the fest around noon.
More breweries were added to the list and naturally, that meant more craft beer. All the local favorites were present: Sweetwater, Terrapin, Jailhouse, Wild Heaven, and Red Brick. Local breweries new to the festival and well received were Monday Night Brewing, Red Hare Brewing and O’Dempsey’s. A wide assortment of beer styles covered everything from lighter lagers to high-gravity stouts. Breweries newly distributing in Georgia enjoyed serving their products to eager audiences. These included Crown Valley, Cricket Hill, Ass Kisser, Lazy Magnolia, and Penn Brewing.
The new and improved VIP area offered cask-conditioned beer, vintage and specialty brews, and sported a buffet catered by local restaurants. VIP ticket holders were granted early access for an hour of unhindered sampling. When the gates opened for regular ticket holders, lines had formed. While lines were long to get in the park, this came in part because there were twice the number of attendees from last year.
This year’s fest organization and layout made better use of the park space available. Brewery tents were placed on the wide bricked sidewalk, creating a better beer-tasting and socializing experience by spreading out sampling stations and alleviating crowding in any given spot. This helped avoid muddy spots underneath and around serving tables which plagued crowded serving tents last year.
Organizers were pleased with the turnout and fluid operation of the fest.
“We felt it went great and everyone had a good time,” said Randal Vuegeler, who with his wife, Angela, owns and runs Vuegeler Design Group, which sponsors the fest. “We had a huge selection of beer, great music, attracted people from all over the Southeast and were fortunate to have amazing weather. The Home Brew contest was a big hit as well.”
The homebrewing community had a definite presence. Homebrew supply retailer The Brew Depot sponsored a homebrew contest that received dozens of entries and generated 64 winners.
Sponsored by Veugeler Design and The Beer Growler, the festival’s proceeds will benefit Kingdom Kids, an organization that helps local families and children dealing with illnesses and diseases.
Disclaimer: Admission tickets for the festival were provided to Road Trips for Beer, but did not affect the opinions of the writer.