By Jeff Maisey
Craft beer festivals and events are all the rage these days, but with everyone and his brother producing such festivities offering an experience that is unique and enticing is harder to pull off.
Greg White knows a thing or two about this. White is the craft beer and import brand manager at Hoffman Beverage Company, the Chesapeake-based distributor of many of the region’s top selling brews.
White isn’t simply as business-minded guy. He actually loves great beer from around the world and has access to a plethora of special batches rarely seen in the marketplace.
It has been his dream of sorts to see an event come to fruition featuring rare beers paired with outstanding local seafood. Hence the debut of Evening on the Creek, a night of hotly desired brews complimented by artisanal eats created by Virginia Aquarium Executive Chef Jason Congleton. The events is Saturday, March 25 from 6 to 10 PM.
There will be five tasting stations categorized by style: Bourbon Barrel Aged, Sours, Hopped Up, Tasting Room Only, and Free Pour.
To learn more about Greg White’s concept I asked a few questions to provide some additional insight.
First, how did this idea come about?
Over the past few years we have had many new beer festivals pop up in our area and all of them are a little different. Some festivals focus solely on Virginia beers, some focus on beers from all over the country and world, some are cask driven, and some even have a food pairing element and no matter how great any of these festivals are I am always asked by many patrons why we do not have more esoteric beers being poured. Unfortunately these kinds of beers are for the most part far too expensive to place at events like this and also just not widely available enough. So Evening on the Creek was created for all of those people in mind who have been looking for an event in our area that celebrates some of the greatest beers we can procure. A few of these beers are a little high in alcohol so we wanted to make sure food was consumed with them and have been working with the executive chef at the Virginia Aquarium to create wonderful food pairings for these beers. Folks will have the opportunity to stroll through the habitat at the Virginia Aquarium that evening while enjoying some of the greatest beers in the world paired with really great chef prepared bites. We are excited to bring this kind of event to our market and it should be a blast.
You have a great appreciation of rare beers. Do you have this is an important niche with diehard beer drinkers?
There is a small group of beer aficionados out there in our area who have an amazing passion and knowledge for craft beer. If it were not for these people and people like them all over the country we would have never had the renaissance of the American beer movement that we have seen. These beer drinkers often have no limits on what they try and appreciate and were drinking IPAs, sours, and barrel aged beers long before most knew much about them. Diehard craft beer drinkers like these love seeking out the greatest and rare bottles. Beer trading and bottle trading is the new rage in craft beer.
Of all the beers being featured, which 5 are you most excited about?
Founders KBS as it will be the first time I try this year’s version of one of my favorite barrel aged beers. Cuvee Jacobins Rouge because I am really excited to see what people think of this sour that I love. Alewerks Bitterest Valentine will be poured and this is a new beer from them and we all know how great Bitter Valentine is. Young Veterans Goat Locker would be on this list as well and it is a really, really good liquid that I look forward to people trying. Last, but not least, Back Bay Owls Kreek, which is a Grisette brewed with Montmorency cherries and this is a somewhat of an uncommon style so it will be great to taste it with everyone.
As far as beer festivals go, what trends are you seeing and why is it important to think outside of the box?
There are so many beer festivals these days and some have not done very well. It is really important that each do their best to be special and unique in some way. That could mean pouring special beers like we are doing or even something better, but they have to find a way to stand out and that is not always easy to do.
Any additional thoughts/insights on where the beer industry is going?
I am really pleased with how craft beer has grown in our area over the past decade. There are just far more people out there with a passion for it than there used to be and their knowledge has grown so much. You can thank many of our great retailer and event partners and their commitment to making that happen.