In October, I attended the Bruegala beer festival in Bloomington, Illinois. It’s a local festival I’ve attended for the last five years or so, and it’s a good opportunity to try a lot of different commercial beers.
The festival was held at the performing arts center for the first time. Previously it had been at the Interstate conference center and at the “Sale barn,” both of which were no where near as nice as the performing arts center.
However, what the other provided, namely lots of space, this venue lacked. The beer festival was held in the basement of the center, and was packed most of the night. However, as you can see by the photos, there were bands playing out on the lawn, allowing the crowd to spread out a bit.
The beer festival consisted of about 25 tables, each with about eight different commercial beers on them. There were aslo three tables for local brewers, including a local homebrewer, the local homebrew club, and Destihl Restaurant and Brew Works in Normal, Illinois.
I was there helping to serve for both the local homebrew club and helping my friend Fred, the head brewer at Destihl, serve at his booth as well. Their Hawii Five-Ale seemed to be a big hit, especially among the ladies. You can see my review, which I did at the event, of Destihl’s Hawaii Five-Ale. I also had a bit of their Hoperation Overload Double IPA as well.
Once I was finished serving, it was time to enjoy the festival. I had to buy a punchcard for anywhere from 5 – 25 drink credits. The cards got cheaper the more you bought, but seemed to be about $1.25 per credit. The majority of the largely available craft beers were one credit, while most of the higher in alcohol craft beers were 2-3 credits per 3 oz serving.
The best deal I found was on Firestone Walker’s Double Jack, which was only a single credit per serving.
Throughout the night, there were “special” beer releases, which consisted mainly of limited edition, rare, or hard to find beers. Each of these were 3 credits per serving, but it was a good chance for me to try a few new rare beers and add them to my list toward 1000 beers.
Overall, it was an enjoyable couple of evenings. While I certainly wish there were brewery, or even distributor, representatives in attendance (as most of the volunteers working the tables had no clue what they were serving), it was a good chance to cross a few more commercial beers off the list.