Beer Fest is booming.
Omaha's second annual beer festival, set for Friday and Saturday, will be at Stinson Park at Aksarben Village — a larger location than last year's venue, Lewis and Clark Landing.
It will feature more breweries — 45, up from 25 — and more than 150 different beers. It will offer rides home, food and beer pairings, and a homebrewer's expo for those interested in making their own beer.
“Craft beer is growing in Nebraska,” said Jen Kocher, founder and CEO of Urban Events Inc., which organizes Beer Fest. “We're simply mimicking that.”
Tickets are $30 per day in advance or $35 at the door, and revelers basically get an all-access pass to sample every beer, visit every brewery tent, and, at many of the tents, meet the brewers.
Among the national breweries new to the festival this year: Abita Brewing Company, Schell's Brewing Company, Anchor Brewing, CIB Brewery, Rogue Ales, Green Flash Brewing Company, Ska Brewing Company, Tommyknocker Brewery.
The new local and regional breweries: Nebraska Brewing Company, Blue Blood Brewing Company, Keg Creek Brewing Company, Moonstruck Meadery, Schilling Bridge Microbrewery, Soaring Wings Brewery.
In addition to sampling more than 150 beers, ticketholders will be able to indulge in beer/food pairings — including beer and chocolate, beer and cheese and beer and cupcakes made by Jones Bros. Cupcakes (of “Cupcake Wars” fame) for the event.
Other events include the Friday night homebrewer's expo, which will feature beer samples and brewing wisdom from members of the Railroaders Brew Club, the South Omaha Brewers and the Iowa Brewers Union; and on Saturday night, beer trivia, hosted by vendor Free State Brewery, out of Lawrence, Kan.
And for beer enthusiasts who can't wait until Friday, Connoisseur Night will kick off the festivities Thursday, at 1316 Jones St., where drinkers will be able to sample four Boulevard beers in glassware specifically designed for each drink. Admission is $40, and attendees will get to keep the glassware.
It's a full weekend of events and drinks. For that reason, Kocher said they're making safety a priority. She encourages guests to set up rides home in advance of the night; attendees can also get reduced rates at the Courtyard Marriott nearby and the law firm Hauptman, O'Brien, Wolf, & Lathrop, P.C. will offer free rides home.
For more information, or to buy tickets, visit www.omahabeerfest.com.
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