Three thousand people were crowded in Woolery Mill, a historic limestone mill, for the Bloomington Craft Beer Festival on Saturday.
This was the sixth annual festival put on by the Brewers of Indiana Guild. The festival featured craft beers from more than 50 Indiana breweries and food from six local restaurants. More than 2,600 tickets were sold.
“It exposes people to a lot of local beers, breweries and music,” said David Elyea, gate captain at the Indiana Craft Beer Festival. “It’s all about sharing the love of craft beer.”
Andrew Melvin, an IU alumnus who now lives in Indianapolis, said he likes going to festivals like this to find new breweries.
The festival is one of three annual fundraisers for the Brewers of Indiana Guild, which legislatively promotes Indiana’s small breweries.
“Buying a ticket for this event goes directly to the efforts to support our brewers,” said Tristan Schmid, communications director for the Brewers of Indiana Guild. “These are our full-fledged efforts to support the industry.”
The guild has lobbied for laws such as permitting growler sales on Sunday at breweries and increasing barrelage limits from 30,000 to 90,000, which allows the breweries to produce and sell more beer in Indiana, Schmid said. Previously, if a brewery produced more than 30,000 barrels, it would have to sell its extra barrels out of state. Passing this law allows Indiana breweries to sell more beer in Indiana, he said.
The Brewers of Indiana Guild has also developed the Drink Indiana Beer app and will release its first Indiana Craft Beer Guide next month.
Unlike many beer festivals, particularly ones out of state, the Indiana Craft Beer Festival is not for profit, Schmid said.
This is the second year in a row the festival has featured solely Indiana breweries.
“This is really a grassroots effort to make the beer that so many people are enjoying today,” Schmid said. “If you have a local brewery you enjoy going to, by coming to this festival you are helping ensure that these breweries continue to thrive.”
Billy Perkins, a sales representative with Tin Man Brewing Company in Evansville, Indiana, said they love other Indiana breweries and craft beer, so coming to the event is a pleasure.
Craft beer breaks people out of their comfort zone, said Dayna Serbon, an outside sales representative with Saint Joseph Brewery.
“The festival feels like a real village event,” Serbon said.
The local breweries do a lot to support the community, so a percentage of profits go to Lotus Arts and Education Foundation, the charitable partner of the festival, said Doug Eibling, a member of the Lotus board of directors.
All funds go to art and music educational outreach programs at 20 regional elementary schools, Eibling said.
“We’re trying to build the passion and break down barriers at an earlier age to make the world a smaller place,” Eibling said. “In the world we live in today, we need more understanding and less fear of cultures that are different than ours.”
Lotus and the Indiana Craft Beer Festival have much in common, including shared fans, so partnering was an easy decision, Eibling said.
Boiled down, the event is all about the community with local charities, beer and music, Schmid said.
“This isn’t a generic festival,” Elyea said. “If we plopped you down here, you’d be able to tell from the local music and breweries that you’re in Bloomington, and that’s what is so great about it.”
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