In Northern California we have an easy way to signal the beginning of the beer festival season: Boonville. Held among the redwoods and coastal range of Northern California, Boonville and host Anderson Valley Brewing Company are a short drive up the 101 and towards the coast from Bay Area communities.
The festival is noteworthy for specialty brews, a weekend of camping and unpredictable weather. This year, the sun baked the throngs of beer lovers as thermometer pushed into the mid-nineties. The attendance by brewers seemed lighter than usual with an entire section uninhabited compared to previous years. That said, the crowds were as big as ever, lining up along Highway 128 that runs through Boonville long before the gates to the festival opened.
Once inside, the festival was organized mayhem. Lines moved briskly but never seemed to shorten, which is standard for this large festival. Russian River and the like saw long lines while the smart beer drinker made their way to the handful of new breweries sprinkled throughout the festival. Notable newcomers in my opinion included Berryesa Brewing who poured their Common Sense Lager and an IPA brewed with experimental hops and named after the late Adam Yauch, Pass the Mic.
For RateBeer, we were excited to launch a new beta site, RateBeer Live. RateBeer Live featured a list of beer pouring at the festival along with ratings (overall and by style) and a map location of where the beer could be found. A festival mpa would help you find your way from beer to beer and a “Speak Up” feature let you share your day with fellow beer lovers via Facebook.
Come the end of the day, Boonville had officially kicked off summer for the craft beer community. Such a momentous day can’t be contained by a mere four hours of festival and the celebration continued back at campsites around the tiny town of Boonville.
Did any of you make it out to the festival? Did you have a favorite beer you found? Did you have a chance to try RateBeer Live at the festival? Let us know your thoughts.
Apologies for the lack of photos. After making a couple trips on foot back to the campsite, the prospect of carrying a camera in the heat proved to be rather unfavorable, so I traveled light for the festival.