I have to be honest and say that I didn't know much about this beer festival before I decided to go. I did know one thing though. It was being thrown by some of my favorite people, Nebraska Brewing Company.
We drove down Friday after work and got to the Brewers/VIP Event after it had already been going for more than an hour. Paul greeted me right away and we got squared away with our wristbands. There was food and a nice selection of beer. There was some great stuff from the local homebrew club. I particularly liked the Watermelon Double IPA, but my favorite of the night (which I kept going back to) was the old reliable Hop God from Nebraska Brewing. The event was laid back with lots of great mingling with all the brewers. I spent lots of time sitting and talking with Aaron Heaton from Grimm Brothers (TheBeerSpot's own Oxymoron). I was able to chat with everyone from Nebraska as well as meet Gordon from Funkwerks. I ended the night in the brewpub chatting with Aaron and Trevor from Thunderhead Brewing. It was a great night, which lead to optimism coming into the fest the next afternoon.
Saturday afternoon we headed to the brewpub to have lunch. After we finished eating, there was a table conveniently placed in the pub where we were able to get our glasses and wristbands. This made getting into the fest a breeze. We were in as soon as we could walk up. The Beer Fest was held in the parking lot of the shopping center across the street from Nebraska Brewing. It provided plenty of space for all the breweries, fest goers, the band's stage, etc.
One of the things that made me excited to go to this festival was that there were all sorts of breweries and brewpubs that I had never tried anything from, not to mention local homebrew clubs too. Everything was set up with several small tents and plenty of space in between them.
Some of my highlight beers from the fest...
Nebraska Brewing Hop God - always a favorite for me
Nebraska Brewing Toasted Barn - perfect amount of smoke for this guy. A highlight rather than dominating the beer.
Crooked Stave - Wild Wild Brett Rouge
Funkwerks Saison - I could drink this beer every day if it were available here
Grimm Brothers Little Red Cap - I had at least 5 samples of this one
Boulevard Love Child #2 - Smell was all bourbon, but the taste was all funky sour
Grape Blueberry Mead - Sorry, can't remember if it was South Omaha Homebrewers of Railroaders that brought this one
Upstream French Oak Cabernet Barrel-Aged Grand Cru - This was the highlight of the festival for me. Good enough that I went to Upstream to buy some on Sunday
I really like that they had a seminar tent. I sat down and listed to Chad Yakobson from Crooked Stave give his presentation on Wild Ales. He did well in explaining more than just the basics and relating it for the homebrewers in the crowd.
Another highlight that I really didn't expect was the air show. There was an Air Show going on at a near by air base that we could see from the parking lot. It's not often that you are drinking beer and watching a B2 Stealth Bomber flying overhead.
For a smaller festival, I thought it was really well run and organized. No lines got crazy, including for the bathroom when I went, which is no small feat. There were lots of interesting beers that would please any beer geek. Water and food were readily available for good prices. I'd highly recommend that you attend next year if you have the chance. I've already heard some things in the works that will make next year's Great Nebraska Beerfest even better.
Thanks again to Paul, Kim, Tyson, Sam, Angela and the whole crew from Nebraska Brewing that set this up and treated me great. I had an even better weekend than I expected and you guys are the reason.