Annual neighborhood beer festival comes of age
By Andy Ashby
Apple debuted the iPad. Haiti was struck by a devastating earthquake. Obamacare was signed into law. The Deepwater Horizon blew up, and the winter Olympics were held in Vancouver.
What do these things have in common? They all occurred in 2010, which was also the first year of the Cooper-Young Beerfest. That first year, we had 10 breweries and about 400 attendees join us for the first beer festival in Memphis that was solely focused on regional craft beer. This coming October 22nd will be the 7th annual Cooper-Young Beerfest, and although many things have changed since that first year, we are still the only festival in Memphis focused on regional craft beer.
From the beginning we set out to create a unique beer festival, and those differentiating factors have served us well as beer festivals have grown in popularity. For example, we require each of the breweries to send an employee to our event so that the person pouring the beer is intimately familiar with the beer and the company. This is in stark contrast to many festivals that rely on volunteers who might not know anything about the beer or the brewery. We also sell a limited number of tickets so that you don’t spend the entire afternoon waiting in line after line to get small shots of beer. Since we couldn’t do this without the brewers, we focus on making sure they have a good time as well. With the tremendous assistance of Ryan Trimm and his crew at Sweet Grass and Next Door, Craig Blondis and Central BBQ, and Sharron Johnson at Stone Soup Café, we provide several meals to show our appreciations to the brewers and all of the volunteers that make the event possible.
This entire event is organized and produced by volunteers. No one gets paid for the hundreds of hours put into this event every year. Every penny that is raised goes straight to the Cooper-Young Community Association and helps to make Cooper-Young a great place to live, work, play and worship.
For our 7th year, we’ve had a tremendous response from breweries, and for the first time we have had to turn some breweries away due to space constraints. Thanks to the hard work of the organizing committee, we have lined-up 11 breweries that have never been to the Cooper-Young Beerfest before and nine that have never poured their beers in Memphis. We expect to have more than 100 beers from a total of 34 craft breweries and two home brew clubs. In other words, if you enjoy good beer, you don’t want to miss it this year.
Cooper-Young Beerfest will have one session from 1 to 5 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 22nd. For the fourth year, the fine people at Midtown Autowerks will host us again at 795 Cooper. Tickets are available now for $40 at our website (cybeerfest.org). The ticket price increases to $45 on Oct. 1. If you are a current CYCA member, you can get a discount of $5 per ticket with the discount code “Felix.” Since we limit the number of tickets we sell, we have been fortunate enough to sell out every year since 2010. As a result, you don’t want to wait to buy your tickets.