Tickets are going fast for the inaugural Augusta Craft Beer Festival, a joint effort between the Augusta Sports League and the Augusta GreenJackets.
“We’re selling about 50 tickets a day,” said Keith Edmondson, director of the Augusta Sports League and one of the festival’s organizers. “We are expecting somewhere between 750 and 1,000 people on Saturday.”
That’s a lot of people for a first-time event but, luckily, Edmondson and company will have plenty of beer ready. As of Tuesday, 31 brewers had signed on to hand out samples of and talk about their products, including Augusta’s very own Riverwatch Brewery.
“We’re really excited,” Edmondson said. “This is one of the first events that Riverwatch will be at. Savannah River (Augusta’s other local brewer), unfortunately, is not going to be ready to open until June, but they said definitely next year.”
Edmondson said organizers worked diligently to make this an event that everyone from casual beer drinkers to aficionados could enjoy. That means that in addition to household names like Red Hare, Terrapin, Abita and Sierra Nevada, there will be brands that are not as well known. Companies like Foothills Brewing, O’Dempsey’s, Carson’s Brewing, Mother Earth Brewing and Prairie Artisan Ales, all of whom are scheduled to be on hand, may just be able to provide a little something different to those who though they’d tasted it all.
All of the breweries will be set up along the first base line in the field of the stadium. When ticketholders arrive, they’ll receive a 5-ounce snifter glass that they’ll use to receive samples. The Augusta GreenJackets will have their concession stands open for those who want sodas or food.
In addition to all things beer, the Augusta Sports League will offer cornhole and other games, other vendors will set up, local bands the Mason Jars and Scarlet Begonias will play and, oh yeah, there will be even more beer talk at two session of “beer college,” led by Matt Parker, an antique beer can collector, and home brewers Poplar Creek Brewing.
Except for designated driver tickets, all tickets include a tasting glass, unlimited beer samples and free drinking water. The Hive Growler Ticket, which they initially sold out of but now have about 16 more of, includes a growler, which ticketholders will receive when they leave the festival. When they take the growler to The Hive downtown, they will receive a free first fill (up to $20).
VIP tickets are also still available, and include entry to the festival at 11 a.m. and participating in a World of Beer sponsored food pairing event from 11 a.m.-noon. VIP ticketholders will also receive a free T-shirt and access to a lounge during the festival.
Designated drivers will receive a free sandwich and unlimited drinks from the concession stands.
No matter why kind of ticket participants purchase, Edmondson hopes to do one thing through the Augusta Craft Beer Festival. And, no, it’s not getting people to drink a lot, just as the Augusta Sports League isn’t really about playing sports.
“So I work with about seven or eight other sports leagues across the southeast and a couple of them I work with have been doing these festivals,” he explained. “The whole idea is getting together and making new friends. It’s the same with the sports league. Yeah, we get some exercise, but it’s mainly a way to meet new people.”
“I love doing things that bring people from all over the area,” he continued. “I think a lot of times we get stuck in our own part of the city, so if we can do something to bring people from Evans or Fort Gordon, then that’s what I’m about.”
And the fact that it happens to involve beer is just icing on the cake. Or, in this case, foam (just a little) on the top of the glass.
Augusta Craft Beer Festival
Lake Olmstead Stadium
Saturday, April 23
General Admission: $35, advance; $40, gate. Hive Growler Ticket: $50. VIP Ticket, $100. DD ticket, $20.