Arguably the area’s best craft beer event, the Keg Liquors seventh-annual Fest of Ale, will be pouring some of the finest brews found anywhere on June 2 from 3-7 p.m. at St. Anthony’s Catholic Church (320 N. Sherwood Ave.) in Clarksville.

It began as little more than a casual kegger drawing less than 100 people, but with Keg Liquors owner Todd Antz’s connections, the event has metastasized into a beer blast drawing more than 1,000 in 2011.

Representatives of more than 140 beer brands will be at the Fest Ale on June 2.

This year’s Fest of Ale will feature some 40 breweries and four craft brew distributors serving samples of more than 150 craft and import beers.

Prefer wine over beer? Expect as many as 60 wines poured by six distributors.

You’ll need grub with all that alcohol, of course, and the St. Anthony’s Men’s Club will cook hamburgers, hot dogs, brats and fried pickles (excellent with beer) for reasonable prices.

Ticket prices are a ridiculously affordable $25 in advance (click here to order online), $30 at the gate. For that you get admission to the expansive grounds (free parking), a plastic commemorative mug and access to more beer than you’ll see in one place until possibly the Louisville Brewfest on June 22.

“I have kept that price where it is partly because we’re still making more and more money for the Crusade for Children every year,” said Antz. Last year FoA donated $7,200 to the Crusade. “I’ve done my share of festivals that are more expensive than that, and I like that ours costs less. Bang for the buck, I say it’s one of the beer festivals in the country when it comes to price.”

It’s a fair boast, I say.

Antz said the lineup gets more impressive each year as brewers hear about Fest and want to join in (click here to see who’s pouring). Last year’s House of Hops trailer especially attracted brewers’ attention.

“That’s a draft trailer loaded with really hoppy beers, and last year we had eight beers,” Antz said. “This year we’ll have 22 taps because breweries that heard about it wanted to get theirs in there. They’ve been throwing special beers at us.”

Some words to the wise:

  • Four hours of outdoor beer craft beer drinkin’ can mess with any human’s sobriety, especially if you’re sampling high-gravity brews. Antz said the event has always been civil, but that volunteers are watching closely for those who tipple too much. Pace yourself and plan to get a ride home.
  • For whatever freaky reason, FoA day seems to be the hottest day in June. Last year it was 93 degrees, very hot for late spring when the average high is about 84 F. Drink lots of water, wear cool clothing and bring the sunscreen.
  • Bring a chair, too. There are none supplied on site, so bring your own, claim your spot under one of many shade trees on the church grounds, and no one will mess with your seat.
  • Expect to make friends. I don’t recall a more congenial crowd at any event I go to. Is it the beer lending an amiable buzz that makes everyone seem, well, nicer? Perhaps that plays a role. But I like to think the fact that craft beer transcends every demographic, be it age, gender, wealth (or lack thereof in my case), status, employment, etc., that makes this such an amiable assembly. Plus, Antz expects the crowd could be 1,200 this year. How do you not make friends in that environment?
  • Even if you’re a “lite” lover, go. There’s no cheaper way to get your beer palate expanded than this event. If you don’t like what you taste here, then just stick with Bud Light for the rest of your life.
  • Lastly, bring money for the raffle. Right at the door you’ll see lots of cool stuff being raffled off for the Crusade. About a third of last year’s total donated came from raffle proceeds. It’s for a good cause, so dig deep, boys and girls.
  • Not familiar with St. Anthony’s? Then click here for directions.
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Steve Coomes
Steve Coomes is a restaurant veteran turned award-winning food, spirits and travel writer. In his 24-year career, he has edited and written for multiple national trade and consumer publications including Nation's Restaurant News and Southern Living. He is a feature writer for Louisville magazine, Edible Louisville & The Bluegrass and Food & Dining Magazine. The author of two books, "Country Ham: A Southern Tradition of Hogs, Salt & Smoke," and the "Home Distiller's Guide to Spirits," he also serves as a ghostwriter for multiple clients.

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