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May 30, 2011

Hey you, beer me! Fest of Ales set for Saturday

Annual event raises money for Crusade for Children

CLARKSVILLE — From Benjamin Franklin to Homer Simpson, there’s no shortage of beer lovers in the U.S.

There’s no shortage of brewers either, and on Saturday, the public will have the chance to sample more than 150 craft and import beers from 42 breweries.

Keg Liquors will host its sixth annual Fest of Ale in Clarksville and proceeds from the event will go to benefit the WHAS Crusade for Children.

“It’s definitely growing,” said Todd Antz, owner of Keg Liquors about the festival. “This is by far the biggest lineup yet.”

Last year’s installment brought in nearly 800 ale aficionados and raised more than $5,600 for the Crusade. And year-to-year the growth has been substantial.

“It’s insane how its grown,” Antz said.

When Fest of Ale started, about 75 people were in attendance, Antz said. For this year’s event, he is hoping to top 1,000 attendees at St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church and raise more than $6,500 for the Crusade for Children, which it is partnering with for its fourth year.

“I think a lot of it is atmosphere,” Antz said, when asked why the festival has become so popular. “I think one of the big things we do ... is get more people that work for the brewers.”

While the selection of beers will include options from overseas and throughout the U.S., local brewers have become the focus, and the event has become somewhat of a local showcase for them.

Regional selections will include New Albanian Brewing Co., Bloomington-based Upland Brewing Co. and Kentucky brewers Bluegrass Brewing Co. and Cumberland Brews. New local breweries for this year will include the reborn Falls City Beer, from Louisville, and a slate of new Indiana-based beer producers, including Bee Creek Brewery, Flat 12 Bierwerks, Great Crescent Brewery and Sun King Brewery.

Along with an increase in brewers, more consumers have begun to pursue craft and specialty beers and festivals are popping up all across the region. Antz said you can probably find more than one beer festival, somewhere in the state, each month throughout the summer.

“There’s definitely a strong movement behind it,” he said.

Fest of Ale keeps adding to its selection and is creating new attractions to keep it from getting stale. New this year will be the House of Hops. It will feature hop-centric beers on tap like pale ales, Imperial Pale Ales and double-IPAs.

While the focus of the event is tasting a cornucopia of beers, the bulk of the fundraising effort comes from ticket sales — $25 in advance and $30 the day of the event — a silent auction and a raffle during the festival.

If pilsners are not your passion, two wineries — Chateau St. Michelle and St. James Winery — will be on-hand along with distributors offering samples of more than 40 different wines.

Hamburgers, hot dogs, brats will be offered by the St. Anthony’s Men’s Club and there will also be live entertainment.

Designated drivers will receive free admission to Fest of Ales, but will not be permitted to join in the tastings. Taxis also will be available for those who may imbibe too many samples and are accessible by contacting festival volunteers.

The event is a rain-or-shine and attendees must be 21 or older with valid identification.

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