Beerman for March 21, 2013

For Weekly SurgeMarch 18, 2013 

I used to live within walking distance to House of Blues at Barefoot Landing in North Myrtle Beach. I would take out-of-town guests there for meals, whether the occasion called for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

I met friends for drinks and stared at the acres of folk art on the walls.

I hit the concert hall for Buddy Guy, Johnny Cash, Bruce Hornsby, Collective Soul, King’s X, Ripper Owens-era Judas Priest, Vertical Horizon, Drive-by Truckers, Jeff Beck, and – I’ll own it – Creed.

So even though I don’t live in the Barefoot Landing area anymore, I was excited to hear the 5th annual Myrtle Beach Beer Fest will be held at House of Blues March 29-30.

The Beer Fest has become a must for anyone interested in food and beverages. Featuring about 100 brews, the fest offers a craft-beer tour measured in 4-ounce samples.

The former Beer Fest location, Valor Park at The Market Common in Myrtle Beach, served the first four years quite well. The location had thematic value – right across from local watering-hole King Street Grille and catty-corner to Gordon Biersch, a brewpub.

House of Blues, however, has amenities and perks that will help organizers and fest-goers.

“The House of Blues offers a unique experience of having the festival inside and outside. Thus, regardless of the weather we will be able to hold the event,” Mike Shank of Festival Promotions wrote in an e-mail to me.

Organizers now have a gated area, meaning more control over the inflow of people; Valor Park has porous boundaries.

That also means beer samples will be served for the flat $35 admissions cost – no buying tickets to exchange for beers.

Only ticket-holding fest-goers will be able to go into the Music Hall and the Deck areas of House of Blues.

Then, of course, there will be the conspicuous absence of the portable toilets of the previous four years.

“The females that attend will love that they will be able to use the rest rooms at the House of Blues and don’t have to worry with Port-A-Johns!” Shank wrote.

Therefore, I’m predicting an uptick in female attendance.

The fest is taking place in three ticketed sessions.

Session 1: 5-9 p.m. March 29.

Session 2: 11 a.m.-3 p.m. March 30.

Session 3: 4-8 p.m. March 30.

As of this writing, Shank said Session 3 has sold the most tickets, followed by Session 1, then Session 2.

Regular tickets are $35. Advance VIP tickets are $70 and includes preferred parking, special entry, a food buffet, a T-shirt, and an additional, exclusive set of specialty beers.

I’m still not sure which session I’ll attend, but I’ll be there.

For more information, go to .

Craft Beer Boom

If you’re doubtful of the Myrtle Beach Beer Fest’s significance, consider these stunning 2012 statistics released this week by the Brewers Association, which represents small and independent brewers.

U.S. craft brewers are producing more beer each year, with a big jump last year.

In 2010, they produced 10.1 million barrels of beers (a barrel equals two full-sized kegs).

In 2011, 11.5 million barrels.

In 2012, 13.2 million barrels.

More craft breweries are opening in the U.S., too.

In 2011, 275 craft breweries opened and 40 closed, according to the Brewers Association.

In 2012, 409 opened and 43 closed.

That’s a serious net gain. We had better get busy. Someone has to drink all the beer they’re making.

OK, as exciting as those numbers are – and they really are – we have to consider them in context. Craft beer contributed only 6.5 percent of total U.S. brewing volume in 2012, and only $10.2 billion in retail value in an industry with a total retail value of $99 billion last year.

It’s the growth, not the share, that’s interesting. Craft brewers produced 4 percent of total volume in 2008, and 5 percent in 2010. So the growth appears to be steadily moving along.

Craft-brewing growth doesn’t only mean higher quality beer. It also means jobs, an estimated 108,440 jobs in 2012, up 4.6 percent from the previous year.

Good beer means more jobs, and that’s a win-win situation.

Contact Colin Burch, the Beerman, at .

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