We went to the Hogtown Craft Beer Festival — our local beer festival here in Gainesville. We missed the inaugural event last year, but were glad to make it this year. It was held in the Kanapaha Botanical Gardens, which are very beautiful this time of year. Unfortunately, it had been raining most of the day before the fest, so the ground was pretty muddy. Luckily the rain let up so we didn’t get soaked at the outdoor festival.
The local and regional beer selection was very good. There were a ton of breweries from Jacksonville (Bold City, Green Room, Intuition Ale Works, Engine 15), Tampa (Cigar City, St. Somewhere), Tallahassee (Momo’s, Pesacola Bay), and St. Augustine (Mile Marker) which I’d heard of but mostly never had any beer from. There were also several regional and national brewers — it was good to see them represented, but with so much local beer we’d never had, we decided to focus on the new and local.
There was a good variety of styles of beer represented, with lots of IPA, porter, stout, but also saison, rye, wheat, etc. By far our favorite beer of the event was Engine 15′s Doolittle Rye Saison. It gets mixed reviews on RateBeer, but we both loved it. I generally hate rye beers, but this one was a very solid saison, with just a touch of sweetness and not too much rye astringency.
There was quite a crowd, but the lines for beer moved very quickly. There were around 50 breweries pouring, so it was also easy to shift to a shorter line if anything had a long line. We only had to wait in two long lines: one for free burgers (which makes sense) and the other was for Swamp Head just after they tapped a special keg of saison. Other than that, there were at most two or three people ahead of us for any given line. And many times you could just walk up with no line.
So other than being afraid of getting rained on, I think it was one of the best beer festivals I’ve been to. There was way more beer than we could drink, and tons of local beer we’d never had before.