CARBONDALE — Spring has arrived in Southern Illinois and along with it is the arrival of the fifth annual CarbondALE Brew Fest.
What started as an event in the Hangar 9 parking lot five years ago has transformed to more than 50 breweries and the closure of a street in order to make accommodations. While making your way downtown Friday night, here’s everything you’ll need to know before entering the festival.
1. There are 51 breweries attending the CarbondALE Brew Fest. Carbondale Main Street executive director Meghan Cole said there are breweries from 16 states and three breweries with origins in Germany.
Cole said the festival keeps growing every year and the city does its best to keep treating its guests well.
“It is a unique festival in that it is done on a Friday night,” she said. “People are already downtown and are excited.”
2. Buy tickets before the festival. Tickets are available online at Carbondalebrewfest.com until the start of the festival at $25 for general admission and $45 for VIP tickets. At the festival, tickets can still be purchased, but the price will increase to $30 for general and $50 for VIP.
Cole said the difference between general admission and VIP is a larger, collectible tasting glass, entrance to the festival an hour earlier, and a $5 merchandise ticket that can be used for food vendors, T-shirts, coasters, additional glasses and other items.
3. The festival is at the Town Square Pavilion. This is the third year the festival has been at the pavilion since it moved from the Hangar 9 parking lot in its third year. Cole said the festival is starting to outgrow its accommodations again and it’s possible the event could move to the Washington Street parking lot next year. The festival started with just six breweries and has expanded to more than 50, Cole said.
4. Parking. The best places to park will be at the Carbondale Civic Center, Train Depot, across from the Newell House on Washington Street, and behind Street Bar. A map is available on the festival’s website. The Town Square parking lot will be occupied by the festival.
5. SI Homebrew Club. Cole said the Southern Illinois Brewers held a homebrew competition among its members leading up the event. There were 79 entries, according to Cole, and the judging was completed this past Saturday. The winners will be announced at the festival and awards will be distributed. The organization is also a partner of the event.
6. SIU Fermentation Science Institute. The SIU Fermentation Science Institute program is once again a partner of the event. The program was accredited in 2016 and teaches college students the science behind brewing beer, which is a competitive and growing industry throughout the country.
7. After-party. Once all the beer is gone at the pavilion, don’t be sad, because the official brew fest after party is at Hangar 9, 511 S. Illinois Ave. Cole said anybody with a glass, wristband, or ticket will have their cover charge waived there for the night. Live music will be provided by metal bands Lords of the Trident and Buzzzard, followed by punk rock band 7Daze, from 9 p.m. to midnight.
8. “Strange Brew” showing at the Varsity. If Hangar isn’t your scene, after the festival The Varsity Center is showing the 1983 film “Strange Brew” at 9:30 p.m. According to the movie ratings website Rotten Tomatoes, the film is loosely based on Shakespeare’s “Hamlet,” and is about an evil braumeister at the Elsinore Brewery who has discovered an additive that when guzzled in beer, allows the drinkers to be easily controlled. Tickets are $5 and are available in advance through The Varsity’s Facebook page. There is also a bar at The Varsity with beer, wine, cocktails, soda and snacks.
9. Economic benefits to the city. Not only does the Brew Fest bring usually about 1,000 people to downtown Carbondale, but also, those same people disperse into the local businesses before and after, Cole said. She said people are already downtown, and there is a free incentive to go to Hangar 9, so many people check out restaurants and other bars in the area.
10. Sponsors. These events don’t happen without sponsors. This year’s sponsors are Carbondale Main Street, SIU Fermentation Science Institute, The Daily Egyptian, Southern Illinois Brewers, Hangar 9, Illinois Liquor Marts, Carbondale Tourism, Murdale Ace Hardware, Hobby Homebrew, Kona Brewing Co., Goose Island Beer Co., Golden Road Brewing, Elysian Brewing, Crown Valley Brewing, 10 Barrel Brewing Co., Big Muddy Brewing, Breckenridge Brewing, St. Nicholas Brewing Co., Windy Hill Hops and Scratch Brewing Co.
Proceeds will benefit Carbondale Main Street and the SIU Fermentation Science Institute. For more information, call 618-529-8040 or visit carbondalebrewfest.com.