As If You Needed Another Reason To Attend Microfestivus (But In Case You Do, Roanoke’s Craft Beer Fest Is Turning 15!)
Huge thanks to Jenny Roberts with Microfestivus and Chris Church and the folks at The Valley Blend Magazine, who let me write the following article for July’s edition – you can catch it in actual print now, along with write ups of a ton of other upcoming Roanoke area events!
Beer fans are rarely at a loss for an occasion to raise a toast. From birthdays to the beginnings of weekends, chances are good that a glass of brew is being lifted somewhere for some reason, although some causes seem a bit more worthy than others. To the true beer lover, an opportunity to literally celebrate the beverage itself comes in the form of craft beer festivals. Without question, it’s a cause certainly worthy of one of the world’s oldest beverages. One of the most successful of these events in the Mid Atlantic region is Roanoke’s own Microfestivus, and this year the festival is giving us one more reason to lift our glasses. On August 11th, make sure to raise a toast in honor of Microfestivus itself – after all, the festival will be celebrating its fifteenth anniversary.
From what began as a festival with just a handful of breweries represented has grown into an event that last year boasted over 100 beers to taste from over two dozen breweries. The event has become so popular that ticket sales had to be cut off almost two hours before the end of last year’s event as Elmwood Park, where the festival is normally held, neared capacity. It seems as if beer fans throughout the Mid Atlantic region have come to look forward to and practically depend on Microfestivus for not only a great way to spend a summer afternoon with friends, but of course as a perfect way to try all sorts of micro and craft beers from throughout the nation. To be sure, Microfestivus has certainly become one of the premier beer festivals in the region.
The current craze around craft beer in America, of course, certainly hasn’t hurt Microfestivus attendance. The sales numbers speak for themselves. According to the Brewer’s Association of America, “growth of the craft brewing industry in 2011 was 13% by volume and 15% by dollars compared to growth in 2010 of 12% by volume and 15% by dollars.” But you don’t need raw data to see the growing interest in craft beer. Chances are good the section dedicated to it in your grocery store has grown a bit over the last year. The growing popularity of festivals like Microfestivus has, as one might expect, mirrored this explosion in craft beer curiosity, and given those curious folks an outlet for exploration. After all, craft beer, in a way, generates its own interest once someone has found that all important, first micro brewed beer that they enjoy. What often naturally follows is a quick realization that this one beer is only the tip of the iceberg, and there surely must be more. The answer, of course, is that there is practically an ocean of choices. There are dozens of styles, and each beer, even within a style, can be noticeably different from the next. I’ve known friends who are die hard stout fans set out to taste as many different ones as possible at Microfestivus, in order to taste differences between them and to find new favorites. As Microfestivus reaches its fifteenth year, the festival continues to give the beer curious exactly that – an afternoon dedicated to possibilities and satisfy one’s growing beer curiosity.
Microfestivus 2012 will almost certainly have a few surprises for the truly curious, as the last couple events have. Breweries such as Heavy Seas (Baltimore, MD) have brought cask ale, or what most call “real ale” to recent events, giving festival goers the chance to taste unfiltered, unpasteurized, naturally carbonated beer brought to your glass without the use of pressurized gas like co2. This year, new breweries that many hope will show up in Virginia by the end of the year may make an early appearance at Microfestivus, although the exact names are yet to be confirmed. Breweries that are scheduled to be in attendance are already lining up, however, and so far include national heavyweights such as Boulder Beer, Southern Tier, Rogue, Heavy Seas, Victory and New Belgium, as well as regional and local favorites such as Wild Wolf, Foothills, Lost Rhino, Jefferson Street, and Starr Hill. Many more are sure to be added as the date of the event nears.
As that date grows closer, many of the beer lovers and craft beer curious in the region will start to make plans to attend Microfestivus 2012. Event organizers are recommending online ticket sales as the preferred method for those who want to attend, as the “at the door” ticket lines by mid afternoon grew quite long last year. Also, due to anticipated Elmwood Park construction, the event will be held along Jefferson Avenue, in front of the downtown library. The new location has given the festival more space for food vendors, and festival goers will want to keep checking the event website for updated information on entrances. Of course there will be live music throughout the day as well. Whatever does bring you to Microfestivus – a great summer afternoon tasting beer with friends, trying new beers and revisiting old favorites, seeing what surprises the festival brings this year, or all of the above – is up to you. Amid the good times being had, there surely will be quite a few toasts between friends, over the samples of great craft beer. Raise one to your friends, one to the beer itself, and maybe one to what hopefully will be another perfect August day. Just remember to save one for the event we’ve all come to enjoy and look forward to each summer, which for fifteen years has given us plenty of reasons to raise a glass – the Mid Atlantic Region’s premier beer festival, Roanoke’s own Microfestivus. Cheers.
Visit The Valley Blend Magazine’s Facebook page here
Visit the Official Microfestivus website here to check out info on the event and to purchase your tickets EARLY!