Takoma Beerfest celebrates 11 years

A decade ago, a few volunteers tossed around ideas for raising money for local community organizations. The consensus was “wine and chocolate” until, somehow, turned into beer and pretzels. Three breweries served 75 friends, in a downpour, and the Takoma Park Nuclear-free Beerfest was born.

Now, ten years later, Takoma Park’s favorite night out means a dozen local craft breweries, live music, brats on the grill, and local restaurants serving up favorite dishes. It also means almost $200,000 raised over that period and distributed through the Takoma Foundation’s grant process to local groups serving the greater Takoma area.

A favorite of new breweries

Takoma Beerfest 2016 with Hellbender
Hellbender at the 2016 Takoma Beerfest

The vibe is decidedly “backyard party with the neighbors” if you live in a neighborhood where most people would rather talk to the brewer about the styles of beer they brought than about how much of it they can drink. It’s a backyard party where the house is a Victorian mansion, the Cady Lee, which was built in 1887 and has been on the National Register of Historic Places since 1975.

New breweries treat this event as an opportunity to make their debut. 3 Stars came to Takoma Beerfest before they opened nearby. Red Bear brought their collaboration with Hellbender to last year’s event before their NoMa site was ready for prime time. Silver Branch, with a Takoma Park pedigree, tried out some brews with the neighbors when their location was just a twinkle in their collective eyes. Each brewery, and this year a cidery for the first time (Anxo), will have multiple selections available for tasting. Some, like Union Craft, have as many as five.

Wait, beer and food?!

There is food along with the beer and, unusual for beer events like this, it is included in the price of your ticket. Patrons love the traditional Takoma Beerfest Brat, straight off the grill, with a veggie version available as well, donated by the TPSS Food Coop

Brats on the grill at Takoma Beerfest.
Brats on the grill at Takoma Beerfest

The event includes a food tent where local favorite Republic will be serving something warm like gumbo or chili, next to a new kid Takoma Park establishment, The Girl and the Vine, offering a couscous salad. There’s also a buffet with treats from another newcomer, Cielo Rojo, and local Asian diner Kin Da.

This backyard has a gazebo, so how could there not be a band? This year Bold Deceivers take the stage (and possibly part of the yard, too, because there are a lot of them. Over the years Takoma Beerfest has been home to honky-tonk, Celtic dance music, rock covers, brass bands, and even fire dancers (until the Cady Lee folks asked Takoma Foundation to reduce the amount of open flame next to the historic wooden house).

You can experience the legend that is Takoma Foundation’s Nuclear-Free Beerfest on Saturday, September 21st, from 4 – 8pm. The Cady Lee is at 7064 Eastern Avenue, just a block from the Takoma Metro Station.

Advance tickets are $45 and available online through noon on Friday, September 20th. Tickets are $50 at the gate. The Takoma Park Beerfest is a 21 or older event, so please don’t bring your kids.

Attendees are encouraged to use the TaptIn app to make the most of their Beerfest experience.