Inaugural — and rescheduled — Tallahassee Beer Festival two weeks away
When Tallahassee resident Ben Graybar called the Tallahassee Pavilion last summer and asked — on a whim — if they had any open dates during college football season that he could reserve to throw a craft beer festival, he was shocked when he heard the word "yes."
So Graybar sprang into action.
He locked down Oct. 13 as the date for the Inaugural Tallahassee Beer Festival, called all his local brewery and distributor connections at Cone and Tri-Eagle, and began planning what he hoped would be one of the biggest, baddest craft beer events Tally had ever seen.
Hurricane Michael, of course, had other plans.
When the Category 4 storm slammed into the Florida Panhandle on Oct. 10 — three days before the event — Graybar's hopes were dashed. Festival goers were scattered everywhere, most of North Florida was without electricity, and brewers and distributors were scrambling to take care of themselves, their families and their employees before they could even think about pouring brews.
Mother Nature had left Graybar's plans battered — but they were not broken.
So Graybar sprang into action yet again, locking down a new date — Jan. 26, still at the Pavilion — and adding several more breweries and amenities to the festival he didn't have back in October.
Fast forward three months later, and the first-ever Tallahassee Beer Festival is now happening in just over two weeks — and Graybar can finally breathe a sign of relief.
"Kudos to the Pavilion, first of all, which amazingly never lost power (during Hurricane Michael). They said, 'Look, if you still want to have the festival, we can do it,' " recalled Graybar, a commercial banker for Hancock Whitney in Tallahassee. "But the reality was it wasn't a safe situation for people to be traveling into town, and there was a need for hotels and ice and all that stuff that other people needed more than we did. It just wasn't going to be the event we'd hoped it would be."
The festival, which features unlimited sampling and benefits a multitude of nonprofits under the United Partners for Human Services charity umbrella, is set for 2-5 p.m. Those with VIP tickets ($55) can enter one hour early at 1 p.m. and enjoy first crack at all the beers being poured; those with general admission tickets ($35) will get in at 2 p.m. Tickets can be purchased at TLHBeerFestival.com.
Graybar estimates there will be over 60 different breweries' beer from all around the country represented, including several area home brewers from the North Florida Brewers League. They'll be bringing their locally brewed beer and will be set up in a special section.
"Home brewers love the hobby and love sharing their beers, ciders and meads, as well as getting feedback on what folks liked and didn't like," said avid Tallahassee home brewer Timothy Rach, whose home brew operation is named Hammerhead Brewing. "This festival gives us the opportunity to share our craft with the public along side both the local professional breweries as well as national breweries."
All the Big Bend's craft breweries will be pouring, including Proof, Deep, Lake Tribe, GrassLands, Ology and Oyster City. And just last week, Graybar announced a special, late entrant that many are excited about: Eastpoint Beer Company, the area's newest brewery, which had to delay its opening until mid-December due to damage from Hurricane Michael.
"When you look at how many beers each brewery is bringing, you're looking at easily over 150 — and possibly as many as 200 — different beers you'll be able to sample at this event," Graybar said.
Food from Dreamland BBQ, the Pavilion's neighbor, will be available for purchase inside the festival, or can you can head over to the Urban Food Market just outside the Pavilion for a bite.
The Tallahassee Beer Society is also involved in the event. Not only are we handling the "Best Brewery" and "Best Beer" voting, but we will also have a Re-Hydration Station set up with bags of pretzels, bottles of water and drinks available. We will also have loads of prizes from the sponsors of our weekly craft beer radio show on ESPN 97.9 FM — "The Saturday Morning Bottle Share" — to raffle off.
IF YOU GO
WHAT: Inaugural Tallahassee Beer Festival, featuring more than 65 craft breweries and home brewers.
WHEN: 2-5 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 26. VIP ticket holders can enter at 1 p.m.
WHERE: Pavilion at the Centre of Tallahassee.
TICKETS:TLHBeerFestival.com (use code TBEER).
Craft breweries attending
(in alphabetical order):
- 3 Daughters
- Blue Point
- Bold City
- Boston Beer Co.
- Cigar City Cider
- Cigar City
- Deep Brewing
- Duvel Moortgat
- Eastpoint Beer Company
- First Magnitude
- Funky Buddha/Ballast Point
- Goose Island
- Green Man
- Idyll Hounds
- Infinite Ale Works
- Lake Tribe
- New Belgium
- New Holland
- Oskar Blues
- Oyster City
- Sierra Nevada
- Stella Cidre
- Swamp head
- Tampa Bay Brewing
Participating home brewers
- Bald Buddha Brewing
- Beerd Brewing
- Biker Kat Brewing
- Deadeye Brewing
- Hammerhead Brewing
- High Brass Brewing