DeLand, FL — “Beer Festival” — there’s no happier combination of words in the English language. I realize that beer is a recurring theme of the Travelin’ Gringo lately. But good beer makes me happy. As I said in my last post (referring to the products of America’s megabrewers), life is too short to drink tasteless swill.

I do want to point out, however, that I don’t drink and ride (or drink and drive, for that matter). As a fifty-something adult, my reaction times are slow enough as it is and I don’t need to do anything to make them even worse. If I’m at an event or a restaurant, yes, I may have one beer, but I always accompany it with food and wait long enough for it to be metabolized before going on the road. Whatever your age, you owe it to yourself and others to be sober and sharp when operating a motor vehicle.

With that in mind, the lovely Mrs. Travelin’ Gringo dropped me off Saturday at the Second Annual DeLand Craft Beer Festival, leaving me to roam around for a few hours sampling various craft beers and microbrews, with no worries about transportation — she was only a phone call away.

Craft brewing in the US has experienced a renaissance in recent years. According to Zach Thoden, Blue Point Brewing Company’s Florida sales manager, sales of domestic beers  are down, import beer sales are flat, but craft and microbrew sales are up around 30%. Why? “It’s an affordable luxury item,” Zach says. “People are realizing the taste they can get in a craft beer.”

I sampled Blue Point’s Toasted Lager, their flagship brew. Wow! Heaven in a cup; clean, crisp and refreshing. Zach had also brought along the brewery’s Hoptical Illusion, what he describes as an “East Coast” style IPA. “Balanced, clean, sessionable, with more of a floral and citrus nose,” he says. “West Coast style IPAs are more ‘in your face,’ pungent and hop-forward.” I realize I’m probably using too much beer jargon here; suffice it to say I’m very fond of India Pale Ale — East Coast or West Coast, it’s all good.

Some other highlights:

Lazy Magnolia Brewing Company, Mississippi’s first and only brewery since Prohibition, brought along its unique Southern Pecan Nut Brown Ale, brewed with whole roasted pecans, which give the beer a rich, nutty flavor.

Boulder Beer Company president Jeff Brown brought along samples of his brewery’s finest: Mojo IPA, Hazed and Infused Dry Hopped Ale, and Flashback India Brown Ale. Boulder Beer Company helped start the craft beer revolution in 1979, becoming the first licensed brewery in the United States since Prohibition.  Before Boulder Beer opened, there were only 42 breweries in the US; now there are about 1,500. “People are trying beers that have more flavor,” Jeff Brown says. “Their palates have become more educated. They’re buying local, moving away from the macro-breweries.”

In addition to the brewers, a number of central Florida bars offered samples from their selection of specialty beers, among them DeLand’s Abbey and McK’s Tavern of Daytona Beach.

In only its second year, the DeLand Craft Beer Festival is a raging success. The event was a sellout — 600 tickets sold at $20 to $25 apiece, with proceeds going to Main Street DeLand, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting the city’s heritage and economic development.

Time to start planning for next year’s event!

FOR MORE INFORMATION:

Blue Poing Brewing Company: http://bluepointbrewing.com

Lazy Magnolia Brewing Company: http://lazymagnolia.com

Boulder Beer Company: http://boulderbeer.com

Abbey DeLand: http://www.abbeydeland.com

Mainstreet DeLand Association: http://www.mainstreetdeland.org

Painting by www.daas-art.com

About Glen Abbott
Glen Abbott is a Florida-based travel writer & photographer specializing in motorcycle touring and travel. He is a columnist for Harley-Davidson's HOG and American Iron's Motorcycle Bagger, and his travel features appear regularly in those and other publications.

View all posts by Glen Abbott »

18 Comments
  1. Laura

    February 15, 2011

    I love a good craft beer and this sounds like a great festival! Cheers!
    Laura recently posted..Weekend Links

  2. Andrea and John

    February 14, 2011

    This sounds just incredible! US beer has come a long way!
    Andrea and John recently posted..Bungas’s Beer of the Week- Dunedin

  3. robin

    February 14, 2011

    I love a good beer too – great post!
    robin recently posted..Present Perfect

  4. Jillian

    February 13, 2011

    I’m always partial to a beer festival….especially when the weather is good. We went to a few beers (or more than a few) in Germany, but by far the most interesting beer festival was the Oktoberfest we stopped by in Brazil. The world’s largest Oktoberfest outside of Germany. Trust me, it was interesting…samba and beer!
    Jillian recently posted..International Glamour

  5. Rease

    February 13, 2011

    Ah I miss microbreweries! I used to hate beer, then I realized there is something better than budwiser!
    Rease recently posted..10 Types of Travelers We All Hate

  6. The Dropout

    February 13, 2011

    I went to a beer festival once, called the festival of froth. It was a fundraiser and it was a lot of fun. The highlight was the restaurant owner, a German guy with a thick accent, staggering around offering all the guests some “refreshment” — some kind of lethal schnapps.
    Then he’d wander off, yelling over his shoulder “oh, I am so refreshed, my friend”.
    So, in my opinion, a beer festival should not be missed. You never know how it could end up!
    And, um, Glen, is that you in the lederhosen?
    The Dropout recently posted..Chè- Dessert In A Glass

    • Travelin' Gringo

      February 13, 2011

      Lol, Dropout. Not me in the lederhosen. If I ever get to Oktoberfest in Germany, I’ll break out the lederhosen.

  7. inka

    February 13, 2011

    These brews look truly artistic. And how nice to have the lovely Mrs. travelingringo to see you safely home.Sadly, I can’t drink any alcohol at all because my metabolism cannot break down alcohol, one glass of beer and I could drop dead, but that doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy the pleasure of others.
    inka recently posted..Lifiting the veil in Sharjah’s Ladies’ Club

  8. Natalie

    February 13, 2011

    Hey, I would be right there for a beer festival and all. This wine world stuff really does not interest me or my palette. Now give me a decent beer and I am happy.
    Natalie recently posted..Photo Essay – The Killer Lure of Turgutreis

  9. Amy

    February 13, 2011

    I am far too impatient to brew my own beer, but I know a few people who do it to amazing results. One of my favorite beers I’ve tasted was made with whiskey and hot peppers in some guy’s basement. Sounds awful, tasted like heaven.
    Amy recently posted..Tricks and Tips for Dealing with Jet Lag

  10. Cathy Sweeney

    February 13, 2011

    Beer has come a long way in this country since I was a beer drinker (now a chardonnay or pinot noir girl). Back then, if you wanted an interesting beer it had to be German or other foreign type. Glad you had such a good time and that you have a good woman like Mrs. Travelin’ Gringo to be your designated driver!
    Cathy Sweeney recently posted..Glimpses of a Golden Age

  11. monette | fliptravels

    February 12, 2011

    BEER!!! someday i want to develop the skill of being able to taste the difference of beers. the mere experience of drinking one is just relaxing!

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