KINGMAN - Hundreds of beer drinkers poured into the Mohave County Fairgrounds Saturday for the 3rd annual Beerfest, sampling handcrafted specialties from about a dozen breweries from around the country.
Bill Brazell said he didn't expect to see so many vendors, considering the size of Kingman. He's been to other beer festivals outside of town, and this one measures up pretty well, he said.
He was particularly fond of the blueberry beer from Pints Brewery in Laughlin and raspberry beer from Black Bridge Brewery in Kingman.
"I knew they were local," Brazell said of Black Bridge. "Now that I've tried their stuff, I'll probably have to go down there. I'd rather give my money to a local brewery than Anheuser-Busch in St. Louis."
That's exactly what Black Bridge owner Tim Schritter was hoping to hear. It's his second year participating in the Beerfest.
"We get people who go downtown from here town," Schritter said. "It's a good event for the community, something different and fun that people can go to and experience new flavors of beer."
A new law sponsored by state Sen. Kelli Ward, R-Lake Havasu City, opened the door of opportunity for Arizona breweries, increasing their production cap to 200,000 barrels a year from 40,000 barrels and allowing them to keep their restaurants and pubs.
"For a lot of years, we were affected by the cap, but fortunately we sell every drop of our beer in Arizona," said Scott Kinard of Four Peaks Brewery in Tempe. "Now the governor's off the Ferrari. We've got potential to compete with other states with no brewery caps."
Mudshark Brewery in Lake Havasu City has never reached the cap, distributing only in Arizona, so the new law will help when the company markets its product outside of the state, Mudshark brewer Luke Portugal said.
"We're working on getting a bigger brewing system," he said. "I'm staying busy at work, so that's a good sign. People are just getting tired of the basic beers out there. Everybody likes something new, some new flavors."
Katie Kogut said the beers she tasted from Tempe's Four Peaks and Chicago's Goose Island were wonderful. She didn't care much for the chocolate porter from Pints.
"It tastes like Starbucks coffee," she said. "It's been kind of fun trying them all. We enjoy the festival. We can get a little bit of everything."
Not everyone was happy with the Beerfest. Karen Albrecht wasn't allowed in because she didn't have her identification with her.
"I didn't bring my purse because I didn't want to pack it around. Don't you think I look 21?" she asked. "I'm 81. That's the stupidest rule I've heard."
There was plenty of security at the Beerfest to enforce the rules, and people said they felt sure there would be no trouble.
Among other breweries at the Beerfest were Odell Brewing Co. from Fort Collins, Colo.; North Coast Brewing Co. from Fort Bragg, Calif.; Shock Top Brewery from St. Louis; Founders from Grand Rapids, Mich.; Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. from Chico, Calif.; Deschuts Brewery from Bend, Ore.; and Stone Brewing Co. from Escondido, Calif.
Canyon Distributing of Kingman was there promoting Blue Moon from Golden, Colo., and Leinenkugel's from Chippewa Falls, Wisc. The House of Hops from Kingman also had a booth for sampling some of its 30-plus microbrews on tap.
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