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VOL. 126 | NO. 197 | Monday, October 10, 2011

Region’s Best Beer on Tap at Festival


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The Cooper-Young Festival, annually attended by 100,000 Memphians, has already passed, but the eclectic Midtown neighborhood hasn’t finished partying yet.

Regional and local brewers – including Memphis’ own Ghost River Brewing Co., pictured here – will be on hand at the Cooper-Young Regional Beerfest. The event takes place Oct. 15 in the parking lot of LifeLink Church, 1015 S. Cooper St.

(Photo: Courtesy of Cooper-Young Regional Beerfest)

The second annual Cooper-Young Regional Beerfest, set for Saturday, Oct. 15, from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. will cater to a more intimate crowd.

“We want to keep the lines short,” said Andy Ashby, event chair and Cooper-Young Community Association secretary. “I went to one (beer festival) out of town and it took 45 minutes to get in. It just wasn’t an enjoyable experience.”

To that effect, only 600 tickets will be sold – 200 more than last year’s event, which sold out. Participants will be given a wristband and a souvenir 12 oz. plastic beer stein and will be let loose among 13 craft breweries, pub breweries and brewing clubs, all of which can be found within a day’s drive of Memphis.

Alcohol Beverage Council-certified volunteers will be on hand at each booth to help with the pours so brewers are freer to chat with drinkers about their products. Since each brewer will be bringing more than one beer, Ashby said there may be as many as 50 beers to sample.

Giving guests a mug rather than a shot glass, he said, encourages people to take their time and enjoy.

“You get a beer, then you walk away and hang out with your friends and talk about it,” Ashby said. “And if you want to double back and talk to the brewer, there’s not a big line. People seemed to like that.”

The Brewers Association defines “craft brewery” as those producing less than 6 million barrels, or 12 million kegs, per year. It’s not Miller time, in other words.

Instead, guests can expect Boscos Brewing and Ghost River Brewing Co. from Memphis; Lazy Magnolia Brewing Co. of Kiln, Miss.; Yazoo Brewing Co. of Nashville; Schlafly Beer of St. Louis; Abita Brewing Co. and Bayou Teche Brewing of Louisiana; Red Brick Brewing of Atlanta; and Oyster House Brewing Co., Green Man Brewery, French Broad Brewing Co. and Asheville Brewing Co. of Asheville, N.C. The Bluff City Brewers & Connoisseurs, a Memphis homebrew club, will also be on the scene.

The reason for limiting the festival to local and regional craft brews, Ashby said, is to promote the freshness of the product and support nearby craft brewers.

“Budweiser is just up the street in St. Louis, but they are so much larger,” Ashby said. “If you go to the Pacific Northwest, they have a great beer scene, and you’ll see a Washington state beer festival. We really wanted to focus on what makes craft beer so popular, which is the freshness.”

And craft beers are growing the fastest.

“Craft breweries are growing nationally at a 10 percent clip every year,” Ashby said. “A lot of your larger domestics are growing anywhere from 1 to 3 percent nationally.

“Locally Ghost River just doubled their capacity and added a bottling line. Memphis is just kind of catching on.”

Food will be available for purchase from Cooper-Young restaurants like Central Barbecue, Sweet Grass and Stone Soup Café. Goner Records, also in the neighborhood, will provide music.

The event takes place in the parking lot of LifeLink Church at 1015 S. Cooper St. at Walker Avenue. It will be held rain or shine.

Tickets cost $30 or $25 for CYCA members and can be purchased online at beerfest.cooperyoung.org or at Boscos Squared, 2120 Madison Ave., or Mid-South Malts, 741 N. White Station Road. Tickets will be available at the door only if they have not sold out.

All proceeds benefit the CYCA.

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