Florence welcomes first craft beer festival

Breweries from across Alabama will gather for the first Alabama Craft Beer Festival in Florence Aug. 12-13.

Not only will brewers pour their beer for festival-goers to try, but they will also compete with one another for the Alabama Craft Beer State Championship.

Judges for the championship will be out of state and unaffiliated with any participating brewery. The beer will also be in unmarked bottles when served to the judges, said UNA student and festival intern Hugo Dante.

Judges are Beer Judge Certification Program certified and will use BJCP guidelines to determine the winning beers in July and announce them at the Beer Ball, Dante said.

The Beer Ball will kick off the festival on Aug. 12 at the Shoals Marriott Banquet Halls. Attendees will have access to a wide variety of beer and receive a meal. Tickets cost $45, according to the festival’s website, alabamacraftbeerfestival.com.

The festival continues the following day on Aug. 13 with the “Penny Beer” Garden. Live music and food vendors will fill Mobile Street in downtown Florence for the event. Tickets are $40 and purchasers can sample over 50 beers. Each sample will cost one penny, according to the website.

The beer celebration does not end there. An after party at Singin’ River Brewing Co. will follow the “Penny Beer” Garden. Tickets to the party will be $20, according to the website.

So far, 27 breweries will participate in the festival including Florence’s own Singin’ River Brewery Co., according to the festival’s website.

“(Singin’ River Brewery Co.) hope(s) we are educating the community about all that craft breweries have to offer,” said Singin’ River Brewery Co. owner Rob Jones. “Hopefully the festival will bring people in that have not visited before.”

Craft breweries have more to offer than unique beer, said senior Courtney Michaels.

“I love craft beer because it is a new way to create jobs and allow local color to spread in a community,” said senior Courtney Michaels. “I also love beer, so trying new kinds and creations is enjoyable to me.”

Jones is excited to introduce a new creation at the festival, he said. The new brew is a roggenbier, a German style beer often brewed during the medieval period, according to germanbeerinstitute.com.

A roggenbier is made with rye instead of wheat and is a good summer/fall beer, Jones said.

Craft beer offers unique and distinct tastes, which is why senior Luke Huckaba loves it, he said.

“I want to go out to the festival to be introduced (to) and try all the beer that is being brewed right here in Alabama that I didn’t know of,” Huckaba said. “I’m excited to see Avondale (Brewing Co.) at the festival and try out what they have.”