If you've paid attention to the world of beer festivals lately, you've probably noticed something rather remarkable. Every year new events continue to appear, vying for the attention of excitable beer drinkers eager to sample the Next Big Thing. Large, small, well known or obscure, there are Oktoberfests, harvest festivals, Belgian fests, and celebrations for nearly every style under the sun, from mild mannered session ales to big, bad barleywines. At times, it almost feels like there are as many festivals as there are breweries, a reality that poses a challenge for organizers: How do you convince people to attend?
One way to do it is to offer a collaboration beer made exclusively for the occasion. There are precedents. For their fourth annual gathering, the Massachusetts Brewers Guild will offer a limited release cask English Mild created at Mayflower Brewing Company earlier this month. Many of the guild's 40 members participated in this collaboration, including Battle Road, Cambridge Brewing, Harpoon, Ipswich Brewing, Mayflower, Samuel Adams, Watch City, Wormtown, and Portico. The difference in this case however, is that the ale will serve as a base beer to which each participating brewery will add their own twist, be it maple syrup, oak chips, a favorite hop variety, or another ingredient that plays well with the style's light flavor and body.
Tickets for the event, scheduled for Friday, August 30th at Boston's World Trade Center Head House Concourse, are still available. The $40 price of admission includes beer samples from more than 30 member breweries, and proceeds benefit the guild, a non-profit organization established to promote and protect the interests of craft brewers across the state. Three Day Threshold, a local country group that also provided music for the Discovery Channel's short-lived "Brew Masters" series, will once again supply the live soundtrack, and casual dining options from the Seaport Hotel and World Trade Center will be available for purchase. For a preview of many of the featured beers and breweries (including newcomers Riverwalk, 3 Beards, Banner Beer, Battle Road, Brewmaster Jack, and Kretschmann), visit BrewGene. As for the nine or so takes on the English Mild, you'll just have to get tickets to find out what they are, won't you?