While St. Joseph went without a microbrewery for years, the local beer scene never went away.
Local home brewers tinkered away at making their own beers, while beer crafters like River Bluff Brewing Company and Liberty Cap Brewing eventually popped up.
“There’s a group that meets a couple times a month over at River Bluff and it’s a growing part of our culture here. The people involved in that are really excited to get involved,” Brian Myers said.
Being held from 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 20, for general audiences at Myers’ venue, The Metropolitan, 107 S. Sixth St., “Ales West!” will be the area’s first craft brewery festival.
The idea spawned from Myers and his wife, Amy Heath, co-owners of The Metropolitan, visiting different craft beer festivals around the U.S. and wondering why St. Joseph didn’t have its own.
“We were at an event last November in Lawrence, Kansas, one of their craft beer festivals, (we were) like ‘Well, wouldn’t it be really cool if we brought a craft beer festival into St. Joseph?’” he said.
About 14 breweries from around the area, including bigger labels like Boulevard, KC Bier Co. and Free State, along with local brewers Six Dicks and Peacock Brewing, all jumped at the chance to get involved.
“We’ve had a good response from people that wanted to help organize. David Page, who is one of the better home brewers in the area, he and I’ve been meeting quite a bit about getting this event off the ground,” Myers said.
The event will allow people to have unlimited samples of a large beer selection. Meanwhile, Max Hudson will be performing during the event.
“They’ll come in, they get a free taster glass. It starts at 1 p.m., and you just go from booth to booth. Between 14 different breweries, they’re going to be about 40 different samples of beer that you can try,” Myers said.
The event marks a milestone in St. Joseph’s history with microbrews. In 2003, the local brewery Belt Brewing Co. closed up shop, leaving the area without a local beer flavor for more than 10 years.
In a previous interview, Greg Taylor, manager at Belt Brewing Co., told the St. Joseph News-Press that it was too tough to compete with major beer companies like Budweiser, Miller and Coors. Attempts to revive old microbrewing companies like Goetz Brewery failed. It was assumed to be a dead end.
Co-founding the formerly known Foamy Express Beer Club, which turned into Ales West Home Brewers, Vinny Weille saw people gather to make brews that were different from the conventional taps.
“If you make it a local beer, people in town would be all behind to where your goal is not to distribute, but make St. Joe a destination for beer drinkers to come to,” he said in a previous interview. “The whole point of it would be to benefit your local community.”
In the past year, microbreweries like River Bluff have done that, with its location decked out with TVs and pinball games becoming a destination for people who want a different kind of beer.
“We try to do different things with the community all the time. If it’s breast cancer awareness or the Noyes Home or Parkinson’s ... if we’re not helping each other out, nobody else is going to be willing to pitch in,” Edison Derr, co-founder of River Bluff Brewing, said in a previous interview.
In a similar manner, “Ales West!” wants to give back, with some of the proceeds from the event going to a local arts organization.
“When you put together an event such as this, when you bring the community together, it’s important to make sure the proceeds go to a not-for-profit, and we’re donating a portion of proceeds to our local Performing Arts Association,” he said.
Admission to the event is $15 for general admission and $30 for V.I.P. tickets, which will give people access to the event at noon, exclusive beers and a special area for seating. Tickets can be purchased at eventbrite.com or at the door.
— Andrew Gaug | St. Joe Live