Calling all beer geeks

Beer Fest is just around the corner

Reavely Bell, left, pours a sample of Jack's Abbey session IPL. — Stacey Rupolo

If anything is in these days, it’s craft beer and microbreweries. The second annual Craft Beer Festival is this Saturday, Sept. 23, bringing 50-plus breweries, over 150 brews, and a projected 1,500 attendees to the Island.

Last year’s festival brought pushback from the town and its residents, but this time around, organizers are covering all their bases.

First and foremost — location. The festival will be at Waban-Alley Park in Oak Bluffs, instead of Washington Park, a venue with neighbors more amicable to the planning, according to organizer Erin Bayer Santos. “All they ask is that we don’t put portapotties right in front of their house,” Ms. Santos said.

Portable toilets will be out of the way, and there will be plenty of them — another Beer Fest improvement from last year.

The event will also bring in a diverse selection of local food and music. The hit pop-up El Gato Grande Taco will be onsite, serving up their popular selection of tacos, as well as Jordan Wallace’s Midnight Train Food Truck, and J.B. Blau’s Pizza di Napoli. Beer Fest will also spotlight local talent with music from Dock Dance Band, Mike Martin, Brad Tucker, and Chandler Blues Band. “These are the guys always out here doing their thing,” Ms. Santos said. “It’s who we seek to put up front.

Every outdoor party could use a couple of good lawn games, and Beer Fest 2017 will have cornhole, Connect Four, ring toss, and giant beer pong.

The tasting and mingling will take place underneath a big white tent. Ten additional branded tents will expand the area, and give tasters and vendors more room.

Doors open at 12:30 pm, and VIPs will be let in with priority entry by 1 pm. General admission will be at 2 pm. The tastings will close at 5 pm, and guests are welcome to stay in the park until 6.

Ms. Santos built this event from the ground up, knowing that people like beer, and people like excuses to celebrate it. “Martha’s Vineyard didn’t have a beer event,” Ms. Santos said. “We have wine up the wazoo, and Taste of the Vineyard, but nothing for the beer geeks.”

According to Ms. Santos, when you’re a beer guy, you’re familiar with the local offerings, and getting access to new and different brews is exciting. Attendees will taste limited editions, and have the opportunity to interact with beer reps. According to Ms. Santos, the event has breweries digging into the small corners of their storehouses. “Sam Adams is bringing something directly from their brewery that’s not even on the market,” she said. “Guinness too.”

Another key to this event is the shoulder season. “There’s not much going on that brings in tourism in the spring and the fall,” she said. “We had to think of something new that would have longevity. Beer stays fresh and new every year, and is viable for the long term. People love beer, companies love coming here, so it just worked.” Local breweries Bad Martha’s, Offshore Ale, and Wash Ashore are all on board, as well as Cisco from Nantucket, and Hog Island and Cape Cod Beer from the other side of the pond.

“It’s a community event that pulls folks from all over to share what they produce, and share a great time together,” Ms. Santos said.

It’s a true beercation — and the second time’s a charm.

For more information and to purchase tickets, visit