Local beer lovers, clear your calendars for the 8th Annual Keg Liquors Fest of Ale on June 1.

I’ve never met a beer fest I didn’t like, but I’m partial to this one: its wide open grassy layout on the table-flat grounds of St. Anthony Catholic Church, 320 N. Sherwood Ave., in Clarksville; the quality and variety of beers poured; the amazingly varied attendee demographics (20s to 70s); and the great, easy going vibe, something founder Todd Antz said was established from day one.

“Craft beer drinking is a laid-back hobby to begin with; you don’t tend to get high-strung people at beer fests,” said Antz, who owns both Keg Liquors stores in Southern Indiana. “The mood was laid back when we started with 75 people, and it’s stayed laid back even when we’ve grown to 1,200 people. I can honestly say I’ve never had a bizarre event or any real misbehavior ever.”

Maybe because people have room to move around: St. Anthony’s grounds stretch over three acres, so even with this year’s projected record crowd of 1,500, it wouldn’t be tight.

Antz also said that over the years an increasing number of brewers have arrived with their own pop up tents, which has moved their products and, consequently, drinker traffic to the periphery of the grounds and outside the main center tent. The result is cooler temps below the big tent and better crowd flow.

And speaking of cool, this year’s Fest will have a free smartphone app describing the entire lineup of breweries and beers, which will be near 200. The Fest also includes local wines, which will top 40 offerings in 2013.

“We’ve partnered with a group called Find My Tap, and you download it and click on Beer Festivals to find ours,” Antz said, adding that it works both for Apple and Android products. “It’s a cool way to get that information easily, know if there are any special tappings and when they’re going to put them on.”

It also means Antz may stop printing beer lists next year to both lower his costs and his post-Fest cleanup.

“Of the 800 lists I printed, I swear I picked 600 of them up off the ground last year,” he said. “I’d like to avoid that if I can.”

Click here to see the entire brewery lineup and start getting excited.

New to the 2013 Fest are Country Boy Brewing out of Lexington, Louisville’s Apocalypse Brew Works, Cutters Brewing Co. from Avon, Ind., and Daredevil Brewing from Shelbyville, Ind. (Antz said that brewery currently makes one of his favorite IPAs.)

And speaking of IPAs, hopheads will be glad to know the House of Hops will be back for those who crave those IBU-laden palate-blasters.

Some tips for making the best of the Fest:

Rest is advised: Bring a portable chair and stake out a spot below the shade trees for moments when you need a break—and you will. Fest of Ale runs from 3 to 7 p.m., which is a lot of standing while sipping.

Pace yourself: There’s no shortage of high gravity beers there, and there’s no limit to the number of samples you can have for your $25 advance ticket ($30 day of the event). It also can be warm on June 1, so plan to be hydrated before the event and stay that way during the afternoon.

Eat there: The St. Anthony’s men’s group cooks up all sorts of gut bomb goodies such as burgers and fried pickles. Always good to drink on a full stomach.

It’s a good cause: A good chunk of the proceeds is donated to the WHAS Crusade for Children, which is held that same weekend. Last year Antz gave the Crusade $9,200, so know that your admission is going to help others.

Consider having a designated driver: Always a wise thing to do.

Nuff said.

Get your tickets and get your Fest on!

 

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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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