Naples’ own, Naples Beach Brewery will be on hand offering samples of its sunny sips.
On Saturday, March 5, one of Southwest Florida’s most popular foodie events will once again roll out the kegs and tasting glasses in Bayfront. The fifth annual Naples Craft Beer Festival will bring some of the best and brightest in the craft beer game to Naples, featuring 15 food and craft beer pairings, and upwards of 100 different brews to sample.
From 12-4 p.m., nearly 30 brewers from around the country will be on hand to sample the fruits of their labor. And while the beer doesn’t exactly have a focus on style or region, there is a healthy contingent from Florida, which goes part and parcel not just with the popularity of craft beer, but the event as well.
“Craft beer’s popularity gain definitely helped us,” said Jeffrey Clapper, Naples North Rotary Club member and co-founder of the craft beer festival. “When we started in 2012, there wasn’t really anything like this in town—we thought it was a great idea.”
Presented by the Naples North Rotary Club, the festival is geared to bring the community together to celebrate beer all for a good cause: 100 percent of the funds raised benefits local charities. Even the beer is donated, with sponsor Coastal Beverage showcasing some of their portfolio for the festivalgoers to enjoy.
“[The festival] has really blossomed for us,” said Clapper, whose personal beer likening gravitates toward medium-bodied/amber ales. “We’re really thankful for the support we’ve gotten from the community. We support a large number of charities, most involving youths in some fashion, so for us, the festival is a double win: We came up with a cool event that the community enjoys, and we can raise some funds for charity.”
While the beer is the main attraction for the sellout crowds, the beer and food pairings portion is the event’s coup de grâce. Featuring 15 different local restaurants, chefs target one beer from the festival’s lineup and create a bite to match the brew’s intricacies.
“They come up with some really unique pairings, its pretty fun to watch,” says Clapper. “A lot of times it is something that is not on their menu at all, rather something their chef came up with that is really specific to the beer they choose.” And while the food offers patrons a chance to sample some local flavor, the pairings, at its core, is a competition. A popular vote allows patrons to vote for their favorite, while an industry insider’s vote, comprised of the brewer reps attending the festival (who travel the country for these events, so they know a thing or two about brews and bites), makes for a pretty heated, yet friendly contest. Last year’s winner, Tacos & Tequila, will be back to defend their title so be sure to check out what they cook up—these are some heady bragging rights we’re talking about here. [For a look at the full pairings lineup, click here.]
Along with the craft beers and bites, the Sarah Hadeka Band will take the stage, brining the tunes. Led by local singer/songwriter Sarah Hadeka, whose influences include Tori Amos. Ben Folds, and The Cure, the show is worth admission alone, so be sure to take note over those frothy mugs.
- Tickets cost $50 for general admission; $30 for designated drivers (more at the door). New this year, VIP tickets, $110 per person, will gain access to an indoor area with private seating and restrooms, exclusive craft beer samples and food pairings from The Local. For more information, visit naplescraftbeerfest.com.