If there’s one thing that’s almost universally true of beer lovers: They don’t tend to get tired of celebrating beer. Which makes the growth of craft beer culture and craft beer festival culture in Nashville a welcome, welcome thing among those folk.
One now well-established and growing local beer festival — the uncomplicatedly monikered Nashville Beer Festival — gives East Nashville-based lovers of beer more to celebrate in 2014: In its fourth year, the fest moves to our side of the river, going down at East Park on Saturday, Sept. 20.
Expect to see and/or enjoy the wares of more than 45 local and not-so-local craft breweries along with lots of food, vendors, games and other festivities. Tickets — on sale now for $45 — include access to all that beer and a souvenir sample glass, and proceeds from the fest go toward helping The Phoenix Club of Nashville (a local non-profit that focuses on aiding disadvantaged youth) continue to do their great work.
Ahead of the fest, we reached out to fest director Matt Johnson to learn a little more about the move to East Nashville and what we can expect from the 2014 fest.
The East Nashvillian: We’re lucky in Nashville that we have a bunch of great beer festivals running throughout the year. What do you think stands apart about the Nashville Beer Festival?
Matt Johnson: “The Nashville Beer Fest is fortunate to be in the fall and to be a grassroots festival. There are more than 60 local clubs, groups and businesses involved in hosting and fulfilling the festival. The credit for the festival actually goes to the great people and businesses of Nashville and Middle Tennessee.
"We love beer and craft beer, while at the same time, we strive to host a festival for everyone, even non-drinkers, who have a blast at the festival as well. It's a Music City party, with all kinds of activities: live music by the Bluegrass Drifters, food trucks, college football on TVs, local merchants, a DJ, cool people from all over Nashville and beyond, games, free caricatures and airbrush tattoos, food samples, cigars, vapor, hookah and much more.
"For tradition's sake, we also allow nice dogs (they must present photo ID to drink and must be 3 yrs old). Nashville Humane was our charity partner in 2013 and 2012.”
What brought about the move to East Nashville for this year’s fest?
“First, East Nashville has been so welcoming and gracious about us hosting the event there, we are just really grateful to everyone in 37206. We are getting great response from the public about being at East Park, a truly wonderful location.
“The reality is that the city moved us to East Park, as many downtown locations are either under construction or not allowing beer fests anymore. (Our previous location, Public Square Park, site of Live on the Green, does not allow beer fests any longer.)”
Should 2014 fest-goers expect anything different this year, with the move to East Park?
“The support from the East Nashville community has been tremendous. We see first-hand that East has true community and keeps things local, which is what the Nashville Beer Fest is all about: local, grassroots, right here. We feel that the 2014 Festival will be our best ever, with East Nashville being the main reason. We already see evidence...
“We think East Park is the perfect location and park for the beer fest, for many reasons. Our team supports the events there…, numerous supporters of our event live in East and are involved in such groups as the East Nasty running group. The Bluegrass Drifters is our live band for the second year in a row, and they perform often in Five Points at Drifters BBQ...
“Our Beer Fest 2014 artwork was created this year by famed East Nashville artist Dean Tomasek, who lives in Inglewood. Dean is a truly great friend of the festival and created the fantastic Map of Nashville and Nashville artwork for the 2014 Beer Fest Map Poster and limited edition T-Shirt. The East Nashvillian magazine originally referred us to Dean. Thank you East Nashvillian!”
Proceeds from the fest benefit The Phoenix Club of Nashville’s work with disadvantaged youths — what drew you and the other festival organizers toward supporting that organization, specifically?
“By directing funds to the Phoenix Club, we are able to contribute funds to an outstanding group of youth charities here in Nashville, including the Boys & Girls Club of Middle Tennessee and others. Our event directors feel that contributing to underprivileged youth is a perhaps the best way to improve our community long-term.
“Since the festival began, several PCON leaders and members have been big supporters of the beer fest. Also, since the event began in 2011, the young professional crowd in Nashville has been a big supporter and friend of the Beer Fest in countless ways. PCON is a dynamic young professional club of about 100 men. They are exceptional in many ways, including their philanthropic work. We have gotten to know several of the Phoenix Club leaders and members, and in 2014, it was the perfect fit for PCON to be the charity beneficiary. We just hope to be a part of their outstanding charity work and fundraising in 2014.”
As a Beer Festival pro, do you have any pro tips to share with attendees to help them get the most out of their day at the festival?
“First, the festival is a fantastic way to meet people. It's a who’s-who of girls and guys, so whether you're single, or a business networker, or new to town, or married, or whatever status you are, the beer fest is the perfect place to hang out, meet people and get connected…
“The Beer Fest is a really fun, unique, relaxing day. We recommend guests arrive early, bring a lawn chair if you want, kick back, take it all in, hang out with close friends, meet some new people, try some new things, learn some new things, eat great food, laugh, sing, dance, hula hoop, stay late...and if you have a good time, thank the city of Nashville, one of the best communities in the world.”
For more (or to buy tickets), visit the official Nashville Beer Festival website. Keep up with happenings at the Nashville Beer Festival Facebook page.