Fest of Ale

The 13th annual event from Keg Liquors will take over the New Albany Riverfront Amphitheater June 2.

Photos by Tony Benett

The highly-anticipated Fest-of-Ale will once again benefit the Crusade for Children. We spoke with Todd Antz about what’s on tap (get it?) for this year’s sudsy celebration.

How has Fest of Ale evolved in the last 13 years?

In 2005, The Keg Liquors Fest of Ale started out as a very small event that we held in the parking lot of the Clarksville location of the original Keg Liquors. I saw that there was a definite need to promote craft beer and educate consumers in the Louisville area at the time. As I love to throw a great party, this seemed like the perfect thing to do. With a shoe string budget and a lot of phone calls to local and regional breweries, plus the help of my distributors, we hosted the first Fest of Ale. I believe we had 10 to 15 breweries represented, 30 to 40 beers available and around 100 attendees. Once the first fest was finished, I did the math and discovered that we took a loss. We wrote a check to our charity for $500, which increased our losses. I really wondered why I thought this was a good idea. It took a lot of praise from the attendees and breweries to realize that maybe we were on to something, and we decided to do it again. At the time, “beer festivals” were rarely in existence in the area. Over the years, we’ve grown considerably. We’ve changed locations and now hold the event at the New Albany Amphitheater. We’ve added wines, meads and ciders to the lineup and brought in food trucks, live music and much more.

How does it help the Crusade for Children?

Since the first year of The Keg Liquors Fest of Ale, I made the decision that this was not going to be a for-profit venture. My father was a firefighter and the WHAS Crusade for Children was a charity that has always been a part of my life and upbringing. We have always paid our bills for the event, then donated every dime after that to the WHAS Crusade for Children. We raise money through ticket sales and an on-site silent auction, where attendees can bid on beer related items like shirts, hats, signs and other products donated by our various distributors. We also have New Albany firefighters collecting donations throughout the event, too. One new and fun element we’ve added this year is a dunking booth, where for a donation you’ll get a chance to throw a baseball at a target and drop firefighters and some brave volunteers into a giant tank of water. After that initial $500, we’ve grown our donations each year. Last year ,we donated $16,000 to the Crusade for Children.

Are designated drivers available and how does that work?

With an event like this, responsibility is a key component. To help encourage the safety of festival guests, designated drivers are allowed into the event for free. This has been the case since the very first fest. Designated drivers obviously do not get to drink, but there is enough going on at the event to keep them entertained. Also new for this year, arc Construction Management is bringing 1,000 water bottles to the festival for attendees. We have worked with American Water to bring a water trailer to the festival for fill ups. Food trucks will be available for food and non-alcoholic beverage purchase plus a seating area will be set up to enjoy the venue.

Sponsors we should thank?

We could not host an event of this size without help from our sponsors. The first few years of the event, Keg Liquors was the sole sponsor and handled the financial burden of keeping the event going. As we grew, we started getting approached by other companies in the community that wanted to give us a hand. This year, we would like to thank our ticket pre-sale host, The Exchange Pub + kitchen, as well as our official Fest of Ale After-Party host, Gospel Bird. Our community sponsors include: Logan Lavelle Hunt and arc Construction Management; our music sponsor, North Coast Brewing Company, our featured breweries and mead/cider producers, Sun King Brewery, Firestone Walker Brewing Company, Alltech Brewing & Distilling Company and New Day Craft Mead & Cider. Our distributors are a huge part of the event as well. These include Monarch Beverage/World Class Beverages, LC Nadorff and Son, Cavalier Distributing, North Vernon Beverage, Craftroads Beverage, Rhoades Beverage, Starlight Distributing, Southern Glazer Wine & Spirits and Carroll Wine and Spirits. VT

By the numbers:

How many beers are available to sample?

We have over 250 different beers and ciders for sampling, as well as over 30 different wines, too.

How many glasses/cups are required?

Just one! Each attendee will receive a Keg Liquors Fest of Ale sampling glass when they enter the event. We have plenty of rinsing stations throughout the venue to keep that glass clean and ready for the next sample.

How many people attend?

Last year we had over 2,200 people at the event and we estimate around 2,500 this year. We purposely keep our numbers low to make for a better experience for the attendees. This keeps lines shorter and allows for more time with the people pouring.

How much is raised annually?

Last year we donated $16,000 to the WHAS Crusade for Children.

How much has been raised in total?

We have raised over $100,000 over the life of the event and should get our total over $125,000 this year. From an initial $500 donation and being a local family owned independent liquor store, we are very proud of how much we’ve been able to donate to such a worthy cause.