Beer drinkers, rejoice. The craft-beer festival craze is finally coming to the Vineyard. This Saturday, Sept. 24, the first annual Martha’s Vineyard Craft Beer Festival will take over Washington Park in Oak Bluffs. Beer, bands, and barbecue will be the order of the day as guests are invited to sample 150 beers from 50 breweries — all included in the price of the ticket.
The festival is the brainchild of Erin Bayer Santos, beer and liquor representative, marketer, and founder of the website MV@Nite. “Craft beer festivals are really big in this country — the thing of the moment,” Ms. Santos said. “It seemed like a no-brainer to do it here. We do a lot of wine tastings and festivals.
The timing and the location were important factors for Ms. Santos. “There’s a lot going on in July and August. I wanted to do something in September to bring more visitors to the Island. There are lots of wine events in Edgartown. I thought about what we could do in Oak Bluffs.”
The festival will kick off with a five-course beer-pairing dinner and brewery tour at Offshore Ale. The Island’s first brewery will be introducing a couple of new brews both at the tasting and at the festival.
On Friday night, an Oak Bluffs pub crawl will take guests on a tour of downtown bars including 20 by Nine, Offshore Ale, the Lampost, Coop de Ville, and the Ritz, where drinkers will get special beer tastings, light bites, and more.
The festival will conclude on Saturday night with an afterparty at the Lampost, which will include a buffet and — for those who can’t get enough of a good thing — more beer samplings.
But the real action will take place Saturday afternoon, starting at 1 pm, when those who have purchased VIP tickets will gain early access to the tented event and sampling of exclusive brewery releases. At 2 pm, general ticket holders will be invited in. They will have the chance to sample more than 100 different beers from microbreweries as well as established brands like Guinness and Sam Adams. All of the Island’s microbreweries — Offshore Ale Co., Bad Martha, and Wash Ashore Beer Co. — will be represented.
Traditional beer styles — ales, lagers, IPAs, pilsners, stouts, and more — will be featured along with more unusual brews with flavors like tangerine, passionfruit, and coffee.
Guinness will be introducing a new product, an Antwerpen stout, which will make its New England debut at the festival. Other microbreweries will also be offering samplings of new brews.
Brewers and other representatives from beer brands from as far away as the West Coast will be on hand. “The response from the industry made it very clear that they were totally on board for a Vineyard festival,” Ms. Santos said. “It’s kind of like bringing the industry and the public together to have a good time.”
Food offerings will include barbecue from Grillbilly’s catering and raw-bar choices from the Oak Bluffs Fish Market.
And then there’s music. Five bands will take the stage during the course of the festival. Along with local musicians Mike Martin y los Rootsticks, Chandler Blues Band, and Neil Howl, Ms. Santos has imported two off-Island bands to join in the festivities. Falmouth’s Crooked Coast will be on hand to rock the crowd, and ska band On the Fritz from Connecticut will be making their Vineyard debut.
“The idea here was to support the bands that don’t play all the time,” Ms. Santos said. “As well as established groups, we’re including some that are new to the scene.”
For those who want to enjoy the festivities but not imbibe, there’s a special designated-driver ticket for $30.
MV Craft Beer Festival: Saturday, Sept. 24, from 1 to 5 pm (VIP entrance at 1, general admission starting at 2), Washington Park, across from Our Market in Oak Bluffs. Tickets are $65/$85 VIP/$30 Designated Driver (no beer sampling). 21-plus event. Tickets available at Woodland Grill in Vineyard Haven, Oak Bluffs Fish Market, Offshore Ale, and Bad Martha’s Brewery, and online at mvcraftbeer.com.