Paul Pedersen writes a monthly column on Tucson's beer scene.
Hops, not horses. That's what's happening at the Rillito Park Race Track, 4502 N. First Ave., Saturday. The Springfest Beer Festival kicks off at 1 p.m. (with a VIP event at noon).
The Arizona Craft Brewers Guild sponsors the event, the first in Tucson. A similar event has been held in the Phoenix area for the past 13 years.
Jerry Gantt, the guild's executive director, says there will be 35 to 40 brewers represented and six food trucks. The festival will feature spring and summer seasonals.
Not-even-open-yet Sentinel Peak Brewing is partnering with Dragoon Brewing to create a beer for the festival. A new nano-brewery from Flagstaff, Wanderlust, will also make an appearance.
The guild is hoping for up to 2,500 attendees. Tickets at the gate are $40, which gets 20 tickets, a mug and lanyard. One ticket is good for a 4-ounce sample of beer. Designated driver tickets are $10 and the event ends at 5 p.m.
This is another indication of the remarkable growth of craft brewing in Tucson. Obviously, the guild has taken note that Tucson is a significant market for craft beers.
I predict that in the not too distant future, we'll see some of the local craft brewers start annual events at their respective facilities.
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Another sign of the times: While craft beer sales rose 43 percent from 2009 to 2012, the "subpremium" sector fell 14 percent during the same period, according to Advertising Age magazine.
The top five subpremiums are natural Light, Busch Light, Busch, Miller High Life and Keystone Light.
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In the beers that will knock-your-socks-off department …
Breakside Brewing is a craft brewer in Portland and Milwaukee, Ore., that I recently visited. In addition to making a darn good IPA, they do some one-offs.
On my first visit, I had a Schezuan pepper beer. During the brewing process they introduced some Chinese peppers to the brew. I like hot stuff and I really enjoyed this beer. The brewers said when they put the peppers in the brew that they cleared the building due to the very strong aroma.
Later, I had a salted caramel stouts. Actually my son had it while I enjoyed an IPA. But I couldn't help myself from continually sipping his. Very smooth with a nice subtle caramel finish.
If any of you come across unique beers like these, let me know.
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The Brewers Association listed the top 50 brewers by sales volume for 2012. Those in the top 10 that are in our part of the country are: Sierra Nevada in Chico, Calif. (number 2), New Belgium in Fort Collins, Colo., (3), Lagunitas in Petaluma, Calif. (6) and Stone in Escondido, Calif. (10).
Book on AZ brewing
Ed Sipos has just written a book, "Brewing Arizona: A Century of Beer in the Grand Canyon State," ($39.95) about the history of beer and brewing - with more than 250 photographs - that is being published by the University of Arizona Press. There will be a booth with historic photos at Saturday's Springfest. Sipos' website is brewingarizona.com
Sipos is a past president of the A-1 Chapter of the Brewery Collectibles Club of America and has been the editor of the chapter's newsletter, the A-1 Can-o-Gram, for more than 15 years. He has written extensively for Beer Can & Brewery Collectibles magazine.
Contact Paul Pedersen at firstname.lastname@example.org