Summer Festivals Increasingly Bring Beer and Music Together
When Meg Shultz forked over $14 for a Bud Light Lime at a Phish concert, she found herself “desperately wanting to put a paper bag over my head. It seemed so silly that I had paid that much money for such a mediocre beverage,” says the event planner. “I knew right away that the next beer event in my portfolio would involve awesome live music and really great beer at fair prices.”
Thus began Hop Jam, a one-day beer and music festival at Vermont’s Bolton Valley Resort. On August 22, the second annual event will host seven bands and 20 breweries, including the Alchemist, Tree House, Lawson’s and Fiddlehead. From casual fans to geeks, “it was clear that Hop Jam could please both of those crowds if it wasn’t a music or beer fest in the traditional sense,” says Shultz. “It needed to have the best parts of both worlds: quality live music and actual pours—not tastes—of quality beer.”
Kevin Hopkins, president of the San Diego Brewers Guild, finds adding live music to a beer fest allows “people to relax and savor the moment, along with their beer, without feeling that they need to rush from brewery to brewery.” The guild’s fourth annual event, the Rhythm & Brews Music and Craft Beer Festival, featured seven bands on two stages and more than 60 breweries hailing from California to Hawaii.
This combination of beer and music festivals isn’t exactly new, however. In 1997, Steve Gumble added a musical component to Colorado’s Telluride Brewers Festival, renaming it Telluride Blues & Brews. “Many festivals have some micro brews to drink, but very few offer a grand tasting with over 150 styles of beer,” says Gumble. From September 18–20, attendees “get to interact one-on-one with 56 breweries,” while listening to world-class musicians like ZZ Top.
As the popularity of craft breweries spreads, so does their presence at larger, music-focused festivals. Dogfish Head has brewed Firefly Ale each summer since 2012 for Delaware’s Firefly Music Festival, and this year Flying Dog’s All Good India Session Ale premiered at West Virginia’s All Good Festival. ■