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Beer and Hoppy’ness Flow at Elk Grove’s Annual Brew Fest

Beer and Hoppy’ness Flow at Elk Grove’s Annual Brew Fest

Springtime sippers turned out for summer-like fun for the 2023 edition of the Elk Grove Brewfest. About 3,500 revelers partied at Elk Grove Park last Saturday April 22.

Between swigs of course, they’ll say this year was the best and hoppiest yet.

“This is definitely the place to be. Everyone gets along and is super friendly,” said Elk Grove resident Emily Gong. She attended the Brewfest with her mom, Cindy, and called it a “good vibe” for the city.

The 70-plus degree weather and a thirst for more beer variety helped push the event’s attendance to sold out levels. That meant more exposure for up-and-coming and established brewers. And it helps collect more funds for City of Refuge Sacramento, the festival’s nonprofit beneficiary for the second consecutive year.

Beers in Sac, dedicated to promoting breweries while giving back to the community, sponsored the event. Co-sponsors included the Cosumnes Community Services District’s Parks and Recreation Department and the city of Elk Grove. Event co-organizer Misty Alafranji credited her team and the “instrumental” role of more than 100 volunteers for the event’s success.

“2023 is better than ever – First time was 2022 in this area, We re-designed the space for 2023 and I think everyone is having a good time “

-Ted Rozalsk, Co-founder, Beers in Sac

Co-Founder of Beers In Sac, Ted Rozalski and Co-Owner Misty Alafranji with EGBF volunteers

Photos by Marissa Johnson

Pour another round

The event showcased some of the best tasting beers from Elk Grove to as far as Southern California and Nevada. In all, visitors were selected from 55 established breweries, cideries and home brewers. Each poured about two kegs worth. In the sold-out VIP area guests received larger glasses and exclusive beer from 31 Tap Pour House’s antique truck.

“Before it even opened, people were already lined up super far excited about this.”

-Enrique Silva, Co-Owner of 31 Tap

Images courtesy of Marissa Johnson

For the second year in a row, Elk Grove’s Tilted Mash Brewing ran out of beer within two hours. People just couldn’t get enough of the Mo’Fun, a Japanese rice lager, and the Straight Ahead, a hazy IPA. Tyler Dees, the tap room manager, reveled in the compliments that their product was the “best beer of the day.” 

“There’s always that small thing when you’re looking around and seeing what other people are pouring. But everybody in the industry loves everybody and we want each other to do well,” he said. “The networking is obviously my favorite part. You meet people from breweries that are in and outside of the area.” 

Bryan Holloway, brewmaster and co-owner of Reno’s Pigeon Head Brewery, is one of those out-of-towners. The business gets raves in Nevada for their lager-style beers. But he came to Elk Grove to help create some buzz as the beer debuts on Golden State store shelves.  

“We have been in business for nine years. But we are brand spanking new to the California market,” he said. “We hope events such as this will show the great people of California what Pigeon Head Brewery is all about. We want everyone to think about us when they make their next beer purchase.” 

Home brewers making a splash

The Elk Grove Brewers Guild showcased four beers brewed especially for the festival. They included a hoppy pale ale, a single IPA and a triple IPA and a blood orange Heffewizen. Being part of one of the state’s oldest beer clubs, these folks like to show what they can do.

“I think the guys get a lot of satisfaction knowing that their beers can go toe-to-toe with the big boys. It’s validation that we can brew beer just as good as they do.”

Sam Blackmon, President, Elk Grove Brewers Guild.

Conner Anderson of Hats Off Brewing home brewed for five years before deciding to turn a hobby into a business. He brought three beers and two meads, offering a taste of something different for those who may not like beer. 

“i’m proud i’m creating something that people want and enjoy. To me, that’s the coolest thing.”

Conner Anderson, owner, Hats Off Brewing

Hold my beer

The festival featured events where only the strong survive. Ten men and 10 women participated in a stein holding competition, a traditional Bavarian strength contest. Competitors hold a full one-liter beer stein in front of their bodies with a straight arm, parallel to the ground. Both qualified for the California State Championship finals. They also won field level seats to a future soccer game of the sponsoring Sacramento Republic Football Club.

Images courtesy of Marissa Johnson and Dale Sanchez Visuals

Extra-beer’icular activities

There was more for patrons to do than just sip beer. People grooved to the alternative beats of Inverness 95 and the pop rock of Sacramento-based Thunder Cover. DJ Nocturnal and DJ Lions in Paris spun their magic throughout the park. A mechanical bull was also on hand for those with enough liquid courage.

Images courtesy of Marissa Johnson and Dale Sanchez Visuals

The Elk Grove Brewfest is consistently the largest of Beers in Sac’s ventures. With this year’s success, plans are already underway for improving the 2024 event. Not surprisingly, guest brewers said they’ll be back too.

“Beer is our tribe,” said Blackmon. “It’s what brings us all together.”

About The Author

Tony Mercado

Tony is our News & Events Editor. Tony Mercado brings a decade of experience as a Bay Area newspaper reporter to the Tribune. He studied journalism and political science at San José State University and has written for such dailies as the Gilroy Dispatch, San José Mercury News and Contra Costa Times. By day, he’s a communications specialist for a San José water district and somehow finds time to dive into a Stephen King novel, get in the stands for San José Sharks and Las Vegas Raiders games and whoop it up with his family and rescue dogs.

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