On Saturday April 6th, 30+ breweries representing all six New England states (and beyond), descended on Worcester, MA to participate in the Brew-Woo Craft Beer festival. A festival only in it's second year is now in the books, as a success.
Although I was unable to attend the first year, we had heard many great things about it. After chatting with guests and brewery representatives this year, everyone was impressed with organizers and the new ideas that they changed. Switching from a single session to 2 sessions, which created a slightly longer day, allowed the vendors to have a break; while bringing in a separate crowd each session. Although the first session had a slightly smaller than expected crowd this year, the second session was well attended -- bringing joy to many new craft beer fans.
In addition, the organizers took a non standard approach with the room layout, organizing the booths in a scattered manor; so they were NOT lined up like the girls and boys at an 8th grade dance. This concept is not typically done and was much appreciated; as it cut down the lines and made it easier for each brewery to talk with their fans. Most, if not all breweries were able to maintain short lines throughout the event because of this change.
The breweries in attendance brought a number of different offerings to be showcase at this festival. Whether it was a new seasonal release, something being trialed or their most popular brew; many brought four to five different beers, if not more. It is always exciting to drink local offerings from breweries such as Wormtown Brewery and Waschusett. It was also great to sample beers that are not distributed locally, like offerings from Trinity Brew House, Tully Cross Tavern, Watch City brewpub along with breweries just getting their start like Revival Brewing Co and Backlash.
Highlighting the night for me, were a couple of different beers: Wormtown Be Hoppy IPA, Revival Double Black IPA, Woodchuck Private Reserve Belgian White Cider, Boulevard Tank 7 Farmhouse Ale, DL Gary's Cooledge Oatmeal Stout and Notch Session Ale.
In honor of the Worcester Firefighters, a couple of breweries had something special during the festival. Wachusett Brewery debuted their newest edition to the family, a fire truck. Surely, it was hard to miss, unless you never made it to the back of the room. The fire truck was a formerly a member of the Gardner Fire House, but was salvaged by Wachusett to help raise money for the Leary Foundation. It was quite shinny and impressive with 11 taps -- I can't wait to see it in action.
Also honoring local firefighter’s was Watch City's Rettung Eins Kölsch (or “Rescue One Kölsch”). The Rettung Eins Kölsch which was brewed by Watch City Brewery and 5 local firefighters to raise money for a fund assisting the children of Worcester firefighter Jon D. Davies Sr., who died while trying to rescue a resident from a burning home. It was great feeling to be supportive of the breweries who are also supporting many great causes.
Here are my thoughts to recap the festival:
- The fest was reasonably priced ($30 in advance, $35 at the door) and was represented by quality breweries.
- The crowd was rather pleasant and very interested in trying new beers.
- The two sessions approach kept the overall crowd to an enjoyable size.
- The random barrels of peanuts (plain and Cajun), were wonderful.
- The bathrooms were quite messy towards the end of the day.
Overall, Good Beer Selection -- Good Music -- Good people. Well done! Major credit goes out to KJ Barrons (https://www.kjbaarons.com) and the team of organizers for hosting this event and thinking outside of the box.
Here is a list of breweries and vendors in attendance:
Breweries: Backlash, Baxter Brewing, Berkshire Brewing, Blue Hills Brewery, Boulevard, Crispin Cider, D.L. Geary, Goose Island, Harpoon, Innis & Gunn, Ithaca, Kennebec River Brewery, Kona, Magic Hat, Narragansett, Notch Brewing, Offshore Ale, Peak Brewing, Redhook, Revival Brewing, Sam Adams, Saranac, Shipyard, Shock Top, Sierra Nevada, Trinity Brew House, Tully Cross Tavern, Long Trail, Watch City, Wachusett, Widmer, Woodchuck Vermont Hard Cider, Woodstock Inn Brewery and Wormtown.
Vendors: Rewind Hangover Prevention Drink, KJ Barrons cigar station, Red Bull, StrangeBrew Homebrew Shop, WAAF Radio Station and more...
********** National Session Beer Day **********
In additional to the Brew-Woo celebration, it was also nice to sample from Notch Brewing on the nationally recognized Session Beer Day. Enjoying a Notch Session Ale, along with Chris and Mary Ellen, was a very happy moment for me. Now, I'll have to challenge myself to find out each year, where Chris and Mary Ellen will be on Session Beer Day.