On Saturday evening we had the chance to come back to the IX-Center and attend session three for fun. When we arrived at session three we found out who won some of the awards that were given out in session 2. I’m proud to say that the Cleveland Area Brewers really did well at this event! Here are some of the big winners from the event: Fat Heads brought home 5 medals, Great Lakes: 4 medals, Willoughby Brewing Company: 4 medals, The Brew Kettle: 4 medals, Market Garden: 4 medals, and Hoppin Frog: 4 medals! For a complete list of all the winners just click here.
- The Real Ale Bar: The Real Ale Bar to me was the rock star of the event. The 8 cask ales on tap Friday was amazing, but the 22 on tap during the final session was just mind blowing. There were 22 taps because there were some left over casks from the first two sessions. How could they let those go to waste, right? It was hard pull myself away from the station because there were so many amazing brews available. Some of my favorites were: Buckeye Liquid Foodie Truck Stop, Columbus Double Dry Hopped IPA, Fat Heads Head Hunter and Hop JuJu, Willoughby Brewing Hop Jam, Peanut Butter Cup Coffee Porter with Cocoa Nibs, and Hopnotic, Brew Kettle Tunguska, and Hoppin Frog BORIS. All of these brews were excellent out of the cask!
- The Event Set Up and Organization: The set up of the event once again was excellent. The hanging banners made it easy to find each section, and the space between for people to walk in was very large which made maneuvering a breeze. I also really enjoyed how feature event sections were also spread out and provided an easy arena for the public to listen and learn!
- The General Admission Craft Beer Selection: For the most part I tried to seek out “new to me” brews and there were plenty of them. Some of my favorites were: Hoppin Frog Cafe Barrel Aged BORIS, Rockmill Cask Aged Tripel, Neil House Milk Stout, and Ballast Point Black Marlin Porter. I also had a great time visiting the local brewery stations. I enjoyed that the local breweries all had great representation. I always love seeing the brewers themselves interacting with the public.
- Food! Not only were Noodle Cat and Greenhouse Tavern chefs present for some awesome food and beer pairings, but the food truck force was out in full effect. Having good food to go with your beer is always a plus in my book!
- VIP Room: The biggest let down for me was the VIP room. The workers behind the bar were all paid to work the event, not knowledgeable volunteers. When I inquired about a few of the brews, I was told by several people that they didn’t like beer, and they had no idea what the beer even was past its name. This to me just cannot happen in a VIP room at a Beer Fest. To improve the VIP experience I suggest they recruit knowledgeable volunteers who could engage the VIP patrons. I know that many members of the Cleveland Craft Beer Community would be glad to volunteer. Also in my opinion, Yuengling Bock and Budweiser Platinum really have no place in a VIP room at a craft beer event.
- Beer List: The beer lists must be published sooner. When an event is going to have three session and only offer specific beers during specific session (VIP, Real Ale Bar), the consumer has to know what is being offered during each session. Not everyone wants to, or can afford to, attend all three sessions. It is important for people to know what will be offered so they can make an informed decision on what session they want to purchase tickets for. I understand that sometimes a brewery will have to back out on a commitment, but it is it better to know 80% of the list than 0% when making your ticket and hotel purchase. If the event is held around the same time next year, I hope all of the beer lineups will be out at least 1 month in advance.
Here are a few more pictures we took during the event:
Disclosure: I was given a pair of tickets to giveaway on my site along with a pair of media passes to cover the event. Volunteering for the event was our own personal choice.