By Toby Sells
Beer has four main ingredients: water, malt, yeast, and hops. The Cooper-Young Regional Beerfest also has four main ingredients: Cooper-Young, camaraderie, good times, and (of course) beer. This year’s full-bodied fundraiser gets tapped Saturday, October 15 at 1pm. Tickets are available now at http://beerfest.cooperyoung.org.
Last year’s Beerfest drew nearly 500 from across the Mid-South to the Lifelink Memphis parking lot at Cooper and Walker, which is where Beerfest will call home again this year. This show of support saw Beerfest emerge as one of the major fundraising events for the Cooper-Young Community Association.
“I was very impressed with the different brewers that had never been in this market before and who were genuinely excited about talking with you about their beers,” said Thomas Whitehead, 2010 Festival attendee. “Having it in my own backyard really added something to the fest for me, because it was just like walking over to your neighbor’s porch on Evelyn or Felix, sipping good brew, and listening to music.”
This year’s festival will be bigger and better, with more brewers and more food vendors than last year. But festival organizers haven’t fiddled with the things that made last year’s event a success. Once again, ticket sales have been capped to ensure plenty of space and beer for everyone and rarely a long line. The “Beer Tent Revival” will also return with beer lectures, discussions, and question-and-answer sessions with brewers throughout the day.
All (as in 100 percent) of the proceeds from the event go directly to the CYCA to keep our beloved neighborhood clean, friendly, safe, and welcoming to all who come here. The festival was devised last year by Nelson Avenue resident Andy Ashby, bringing together his love for beer and his community.
“We want people to enjoy fresh craft beer and a neighborhood we love,” he said. “We really wanted to focus on raising money for improving the neighborhood, educating people about nearby breweries, and having a good time. I think we accomplished that last year, and I think this year will be even better.”
Ashby wanted a festival that celebrated regional brewers, those that could be reached within a day’s drive of Memphis. “Fresh beer is simply better,” he says, and likens buying local beer to buying fresh vegetables from a farmers market.
This idea immediately separated the CY Regional Beerfest from all of the other beer festivals that sprang up around town last year. CY Beerfest-goers will not find a Budweiser, Coors, or Miller product in any booth. Festival organizers do not turn their noses up to mass-produced beer. But they hope to garner more attention for the hardworking brewers creating beers right here at home and whose beers, like the people in our region, are “hard to pigeonhole, easy to love, and ready for celebration,” according to the festival’s mission statement.
This year’s festival features Boscos Brewing and Ghost River Brewing Co. from Memphis; Lazy Magnolia from Kiln, Mississippi; Nashville’s Yazoo Brewing Co.; Vino’s Brew Pub from Little Rock; Schafly’s from St. Louis; Louisiana’s Abita Brewing Co. and Bayou Teche Brewing; and Red Brick Brewing from Atlanta. Asheville, North Carolina will be well represented with Green Man Brewery, French Broad Brewing Co., Oyster House Brewing Co., and Asheville Brewing Co. Also, The Bluff City Brewers & Connoisseurs will bring their finest homebrewed beers to taste.
CY favorites Central BBQ and Sweet Grass will join CY newcomer Stone Soup Café to bring their delicious food to the festival this year. Goner Records will spin the day’s soundtrack. Other sponsors include Celtic Crossing, Memphis Flyer, MemphiSport magazine, MemphiSport Live, and WEVL.
Tickets are $25 for CYCA members and $30 for non-members. Tickets are available online at beerfest.cooperyoung.org (online sales carry a $2.50 convenience fee), at Boscos Squared (2120 Madison Ave.), Mid-South Malts (741 N. White Station Road), or at the Cooper-Young Community Association office (2298 Young Ave.). Ticket sales include a 12-ounce, plastic beer mug with the Beerfest logo to sample beers during the festival and to take home.