And it was all for a good cause: proceeds from the festival will be used to provide support for childhood education and recreation programs in St. Pete Beach. Last year, funds generated by the festival went toward the new scoreboard at the St. Pete Beach Recreation Center.
To keep the beer enthusiasts in attendance from drinking on an empty stomach, barbecue was provided by Barbacoa Inc., which served up baby back ribs, smoked pork loin tacos, and jalapeno cheddar sausage topped with charred pineapple and red onions.
Afternoon rain didn’t dampen turnout at the event. The covered, air-conditioned location in the community center ballroom ensured the 450 guests and dozens of vendors remained dry and cool.
“Last year our attendance was just under 250, so we’ve almost doubled,” said organizer Jarrett Sanchez.
The festival represented an ideal opportunity for the region’s many new and growing craft breweries, like Flying Boat Brewing Co. in St. Petersburg, to make a name for themselves.
“It’s a great event,” said Flying Boat brewer Tyler Singletary, “and very good for us, in particular, because we aren’t too far from here. And with the sketchy weather, we’re glad it was indoors.”
Homebrewers also got in on the act. Seminole-based PUBGuild brought three of its beers for festival attendees to taste, while the St. Pete Homebrew Club had a half-dozen on tap. “You guys have the best beer here,” said festival-goer Anthony Curatolo while sampling some of the homebrews.
After sampling up to nine different homebrews, festival attendees were given tickets that they could use to vote for their favorite. Summertime Cream Ale with Watermelon, brewed by PUBGuild’s Chris McAlexander, took first place. As the grand-prize winner, McAlexander will receive sailing lessons and a one-year membership at the St. Petersburg Sailing Center.
Second place went to Andrew Probeck of St. Pete Homebrew Club for his Fruity Loops IPA. Probeck won a $25 gift certificate to Right Around the Corner, a craft-brew bar in St. Petersburg owned by Tom Rockhill, organizer of the St. Pete Homebrew Club.
Third place was won by Rigoberto Padua, also of St. Pete Homebrew Club, for his Pre-Prohibition Pilsner. Padua will receive a $25 gift certificate for Avid, a home-brewing supply store in St. Petersburg.
Rockhill said he was pleased with the turnout at the festival and appreciated the support festivalgoers showed for local homebrewers. “It’s a charity event and it’s also a good time for homebrewers to get together and try each other’s beers,” he said. “Next year, I want it to be even bigger for us.”
For anyone who would like to learn more about craft brewing, Rockhill welcomes them to attend a meeting of the St. Pete Homebrew Club. The club meets on the third Tuesday of every month, usually at a local craft brewery. For more information, call/text Rockhill at 727-331-9395 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.