HAMPTON – The 2022 Summer Brewfest season is officially upon us, and while each festival offers its own unique flair, this Saturday’s second annual Beach and Brew Fest at Hampton Beach State Park offers an undeniable appeal.
“We’re the only brewfest in the area where your toes are in the sand while you enjoy your favorite brews,” said Colleen Westcott of the Hampton Chamber of Commerce of the chamber-hosted event.
In fact, one of Westcott’s biggest tasks of late has been assuring new attendees that the photos from last year’s event are indeed real and have not been photoshopped.
“I have to keep telling people, that’s not a backdrop, that’s the beach, that’s where it was,” Westcott said. “Those dunes in the background, that blue sky in the background, that’s real.”
Many breweries will be on hand including event sponsor Smuttynose and Smuttlabs, Stripe Nine Brewing Co., Loaded Question Brewing, Long Blue Cat Brewery Co., Northwoods Brewing Co. and Whym Craft Pub and Brewery.
With plenty of sun in the forecast for Saturday, those looking for something lighter and refreshing to try will also be in luck.
Island District and its wide range of sparkling craft canned cocktails made right here in Hampton will be on hand, as will Dover’s Auspicious Brew, which brews small batches of craft kombucha, a low-alcohol fermented tea.
“Sometimes the day calls for something different when you’re outside in the sun,” said Westcott, who is also pleased that Vermont’s Stowe Cider and NOCA, a locally brewed non-carbonated beverage, round out the list of these diverse brewers.
Westcott says there could likely be more last-minute entries, but noted it’s a challenging climate for small breweries who find it difficult to staff their own tasting rooms, let alone find people for a brewfest . Still, the pull of the scenic location, along with the opportunity to raise money for the New Hampshire Brewers Association, was a significant draw.
“They’re excited, but like everyone else, they have staffing issues and supply chain issues,” Westcott said. “We’ve had some breweries say, ‘We went there last year, we loved it, and we’d be there in a heartbeat if we could find someone to work with.'”
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Due to the pandemic and protocols, last year’s Brewfest was split into two sessions, starting with a VIP session and then a general admission session with a one-hour break in between to encourage social distancing and allow for additional cleaning and sanitizing. This year, the VIP session starts again at 13:00, but these ticket holders are allowed to remain throughout the event and are joined non-stop at 14:30 by standing room ticket holders.
Another change to this year’s event will be the addition of 92.5 FM the River and its “Street Team” to handle the music and entertainment.
“I think that’s going to lead to a lot of interaction,” Westcott noted. “They’re going to be shouting to the crowd and doing a lot of games, so that’s going to be a lot of fun.”
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After receiving rave reviews from last year’s event, Hampton’s Big Bad Food Truck is back with Chef Ben St. Jeanne at the wheel serving his signature and delicious grilled fare.
Ticket sales were brisk, but at press time VIP tickets ($45), general admission tickets ($35) and non-drinker tickets ($15) were still available. Tickets can be purchased online at https://events.beerfests.com/e/beach-brew-fest/tickets.
All rates include parking for the whole day, which Wescott says is ideal for those who want to enjoy the beach and then view the recently completed sand sculptures.
“We think Beach and Brew is just a beautiful part of a day,” Westcott pointed out. “The event is at 4am and it’s such a nice walk, walk up the beach and look at the sand sculptures, have dinner and then walk back. It’s just a great way to enjoy a day at the beach.”
Keep NH Brewing Festival is back
After a two-year hiatus, the NH Brewers Association’s seventh annual Keep NH Brewing Festival returns July 9 at Kiwanis Waterfront Park in Concord.
The event features over 50 breweries, the Granite State’s largest collection of craft breweries at a brew festival in the state. NHBA Executive Director CJ Haines, who helped the Hampton Chamber of Commerce get the festival off the ground this weekend, is excited for the return of this popular event, themed “For the brewers, by the brewers.” .
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“I think that’s something unique about our event because it’s almost like old times because all the brewers come together and it’s almost a gathering of them to celebrate New Hampshire Beer the same way it’s for the people, too come and try all the beer,” Haines said of the event, which will also feature multiple food trucks, artisanal vendors, and local malt and barley farms.
Haines says fewer than a hundred VIP tickets ($65) remain, but plenty of general admission tickets ($50) and designated driver tickets ($20). Proceeds account for more than half of the NHBA’s annual fundraising and supports all of its educational and advocacy initiatives.
The event starts at 12pm for VIPs and runs from 1pm to 4pm for general admission. Sign up for tickets at https://events.beerfests.com/e/keep-nh-brewing-festival.
It’s hard to resist this stout
While an 80-degree day at the beach doesn’t usually call for a frothy-tasting glass of stout, those traveling to Hampton this weekend might want to try a small sip of ‘Resist Solidarity Brew’ from Stripe Nine Brewing in Somersworth and do the same.
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Head brewer Sean Kelly reports that the stout, brewed from an authentic Ukrainian brewery recipe as part of Brew For Ukraine’s global effort, has raised nearly $3,500 so far and he hopes to reach his goal of $5,000 Donate dollars to the International Red Cross for relief in the war-torn country. Brewers worldwide have raised more than $1.5 million for the organization, and Kelly and Stripe Nine were recently highlighted along with other brewers on The Today Show for their efforts.
“Admittedly, we only had a small cameo, but they used a lot of our video and some of our images like the tank with the flag of Ukraine on it,” Kelly said. “It’s nice to get a little visibility, but the goal remains the same. Unfortunately, I think Ukraine is now the fourth or fifth story in the news with the gas and energy prices and all the other things that are going on, but we want to end this one on a high note.”
Kelly is hoping to have a case of the velvety smooth stout on hand in Hampton on Saturday and still has 4-packs and cases for sale at the brewery in Somersworth.
Full Pours is a regular column covering the Coast’s craft beer scene. Follow @full_pours on Instagram. Email Bob at [email protected]