This weekend marks the second annual CANvitational and I for one am really excited to see what the gang over at Sun King has brewed up (pun intended) for us this year.
You might be asking yourself, “Who is this dude blogging about a craft beer festival?” “Does he even work at a brewery?” No, I don’t work in the “industry,” but I do love craft beer, have a pretty sweet beard, and festivals are kind of my bag. That makes me an expert, right?!?
Anyway, I’ve been in the event/festival world for almost 15 years now and I was so impressed with what I saw at last year’s inaugural CANvitational that I pretty much begged Sun King to let me help in some way this year. After much pestering and repeated e-mails, they caved and said I can contribute by writing this guest blog post about the event itself and what you can expect.
So here are some things I experienced last year that convinced me that CANvitational was and will be a uniquely amazing festival you will not want to miss.
1) Safety – It’s a mindset, kids!
Have you ever been to an event where there was little to no structure? One where volunteers were uninformed, food and beer lines snake around vendor tables and eventually joined into one big hot mess. One where you didn’t know if you were in the line for a taco, a margarita or the restroom. Now imagine that chaos if something bad were to happen and people started to scatter. Actually, let’s not think about that because you are not going to have to worry about it this Saturday.
I’ve been to plenty of festivals over the years and this is one of the best executed events I’ve ever attended. Yes, the atmosphere is amazing and the beer...oh the beer…is a thing to behold. But after having worked with the cats at Sun King for years now, I know they know how to deliver on the wow-factor. It’s the infrastructure of the thing that blew my mind! At no point in my can-beer-sampling-day did I ever feel unsafe or not cared for. From the helpful and smiling volunteers to the police officers keeping a watchful eye on things, I never felt rushed or watched. I knew if there were even the potential for a problem, someone would be on it. With that feeling, I could just enjoy my surroundings and the company I was with.
Let me put it this way: Well staffed, well informed and well organized. Go on, relax and enjoy yourself! In moderation, that is.
2) Adult Swim Time
This one is simple. I’ve been to plenty of gatherings fueled by booze and its inevitable that some, if not a large chunk, of the crowd is there for one thing and one thing only…to catch a buzz and tell their friends later that they got “sooooo wasted”. There’s nothing wrong with that. We’ve all done it. But sometimes it’s nice to see people get excited about the breweries at the event, the kind of thing that makes this craft beer lover’s heart skip a beat. Breweries like Revolution and Half Acre out of Chicago, Cigar City, Surley and one of my personal faves Vander Mills Ciders out of Michigan. Check out the complete list of breweries here. With a list of breweries like that, it’s a pretty sure bet the crowd going Saturday are there for quality not quantity.
3) Economic Development We Can All Toast To
It dawned on me early on in my love of Sun King that it wasn’t just a great product they were producing and I was consuming. There was more to it than that. There was a master plan that’s probably been in motion since the first batch of Johan was brewed years ago. A plan to take this city’s love of craft beer and turn it into a booming industry so much so other cities and states would sit up and take notice.
You have to agree that the booming industry part of that plan is progressing quickly. It seems like overnight, Downtown Indianapolis went from having two chain breweries to having almost a dozen craft breweries in a couple mile radius of the city center. Whatever side of town you live on there are small breweries popping up almost monthly and the beer they are cranking out is AMAZING.
That’s step one. The next step is to get this town on the map nationally when it comes to the craft beer industry. How do you do that, other than make great beer? You establish a one of a kind annual beer event where some of the nation’s best craft breweries canning their products all come together and share their wares with thirsty beer lovers. Buying a ticket to CANvitational and drinking craft beer will, in both the short and long term, help our local economy. It’s that simple.
4) Use the Buddy System
What I’ve always respected most about the craft beer world is all the different partnerships and collaborations between the different breweries. The funny thing is, breweries like to keep their partnerships interestings - it’s kind of like the swinging 60s, but with beer.
At last year’s CANvitational, Sun King offered up Royal Brat, a collaboration with the heavy metal rock gods up at 3 Floyds Brewing. This ESB knocked my socks off and kept me coming back to the brewery for more.
This year’s collaboration, 30 Minute Coma, excites me beyond all belief as it’s a B.S.I.P.A. (Belgain Session IPA!) Brewed in collaboration with Solemn Oath Brewery out of Naperville, IL this beer is going to be one of the highlights of the day for sure.
Those are my four nuggets of knowledge that I bestow upon you. Your now either really excited about the awesomeness you are about to experience this Saturday because you already have tickets, or you’re going to go out and buy a ticket to the CANvitational now! Get your tickets here in advance for $50. If you wait to get them at the door the price goes up to $60.
For all those hop heads I’m going to see Saturday, as always, make sure there is plenty of sun screen, water, food and a designated driver on your packing checklist. If the last one is an issue, do consider our friends at Uber for a inexpensive and safe ride home.
If you’re at the CANvitational Saturday come find me and say hi. I’ll be the nerdy guy with the sweet beard, in the Indy Film Fest t-shirt with a big smile on my face because I know I’m safe, surrounded by fellow beer geeks and helping the local economy all while drinking a brand new beer called 30 Minute Coma!
-Craig Mince, Board President - Indy Film Fest