We love festivals on the Gulf Coast, and as we approach the end of summer, a number of brewfests for fans of craft beer are coming up in our area.
In Mobile, the Dauphin Street Beer Festival has become a staple event of late summer, and as it enters its 20th year it looks to be bigger and better than ever. This year’s festival is Saturday, Aug. 26, from 6-9 p.m. There are will be 29 participating bars and restaurants throughout the LoDa entertainment district, plus the official Beer Fest tent on Cathedral Square.
Tickets are $30 and available at the participating venues and online. This event sells out annually, so if you don’t want to miss out on the fun, get your tickets in advance. Information on where to buy tickets and updates for the event can be found on the Dauphin Street Beer Fest’s Facebook page.
For your $30 you’ll get a mug and access to more than 90 craft beers to sample. The selection of beers is excellent, with something for everyone from a number of well-known (and loved) local brews to a number of unique styles from national breweries, and even some real obscure beers.
Lower Alabama’s Fairhope Brewing Co. and Haint Blue Brewing Co. are both represented (at the Joe Cain Café, the Blind Mule and the Royal Scam), as are selections from other Alabama breweries, including Birmingham’s Avondale and Madison’s Rocket Republic brewing companies.
A couple of weeks later in Pensacola, the 22nd annual Emerald Coast Beer Festival will be held at Rosie O’Grady’s Good Time Emporium in Seville Quarter on Friday, Sept. 8 (as part of the festival there is a beer pairing dinner the night before, but that is already sold out). According to April King, vice president of Escambia Bay Homebrewers, the festival began with a few brewers meeting at Apple Annie’s in Seville Quarter for an informal tasting, and now annually hosts more than 2,000 attendees each year for an event that encompasses the entire Seville Quarter complex and Government Street.
Tickets are $30 in advance, available online at www.mkt.com/ecbf, and $40 the day of the event. The festival features more than 300 beers including 14 homebrews, adding to the uniqueness of the event. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. (VIPs can get in a half hour earlier, but those tickets have also already sold out) and attendees will get a souvenir tasting glass.
The Emerald Coast Festival focuses mainly on a wide selection of Gulf Coast craft brewers, from Texas to Florida, as well as a couple of national brewers, including Colorado’s New Belgium and Blue Moon. The beers from our region are really the draw, however, with an impressive list of craft breweries from our area represented at the event.
For those willing to travel a bit farther, that same weekend, Sept. 9 from 2-5 p.m., the Alabama Craft Beer Festival and championship will be held in Florence. For $40 you can gain admission to the “penny beer garden,” where samples of 75 beers will be available for one cent each; at $75, a VIP pass will get you in the doors an hour earlier, plus access to the Brewers Awards luncheon and a souvenir T-shirt and growler.
Finally, a clarification of my last column, on Mississippi beers. While Mississippi did not end state Prohibition on liquor until 1966, the sale of beer and wine with less than 4 percent alcohol in Mississippi was legalized in 1934. Both the 1934 and 1966 statutes gave counties the local option to remain dry and, as any of you who have ever lived in Mississippi know, many counties did (and still do) remain dry.
When Lazy Magnolia became the first brewery to open in the state since before state prohibition was enacted in 1907, it did so by exposing a loophole in the law prohibiting the production of beer. An appeal to the state tax commission allowed for the opening of the brewery in 2003. In 2012, the Mississippi Legislature removed the old 4 percent ABV law and made it legal to produce and sell beer containing up to 8 percent ABV, helping to fuel the state’s growing craft beer industry.
(Photo by Keith Necaise / City of Mobile Special Events)