Ithaca Brew Fest — the Labor Day Weekend event in Stewart Park that features more than 100 beers from 45 different brewers — will not take place this year, according to Dan Mitchell, owner of Ithaca Beer Company, which organizes the event.
The festival, at which local venders serve their beer and food, has been held annually since 2007. But this year, the Ithaca Beer Company will focus on building its new brewery and beer pub, Mitchell said.
“Going into this year, we discussed feasibility of doing both, and [Mitchell] decided it best to focus all efforts on managing the growing demand for Ithaca Beer and getting the new brewery opened this summer,” said Allison Graffin, mer,” said Allison Graffin, marketing director of Ithaca Beer Company.
Growing demand for Ithaca Beer in the Northeast and Ohio is another reason for the hiatus, according to Graffin. Ithaca Beer Company, which began as a local brewery in the Ithaca area, has expanded to sell throughout New York State, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Rhode Island and Ohio in recent years. The new brewery will produce more beer to be exported, according to Graffin.
Planning for Brew Fest usually starts as early as Jan. 1. Graffin said the event is typically staffed by Ithaca Beer Company employees, who get the day off to volunteer.
In past years, Brew Fest has drawn about 3,000 people from the New York area. According to Graffin, cancellation of this year’s event was met with “understanding mixed with excitement to visit the new brewery when it opens.”
Still, some students said they were disappointed that they would not be able to attend Brew Fest in September.
“[It’s] disappointing; I really enjoyed hanging out with friends and sampling the beers that you could not get near campus,” Jeanette Fox ’12 said. “It was fun, sitting on the grass in the sun, not caring about school work but relaxing.”
Greg Kim ’12 also said he wished Brew Fest was still planned for the summer.
“I feel bad that I never got to go,” Kim said. “I was looking forward to it.”
However, Christine Swoboda ’10 said she is not disappointed about the cancellation.
“It was too expensive for frugal college kids,” Swoboda said of last year’s Brew Fest entrance fee.
David Katleski, owner of Brew Fest vendor Empire Brewery, and president of the New York State Brew Association, expressed his understanding of the decision.
“I can’t say I blame [Mitchell] for cancelling the Brew Fest,” Katleski said. “Organizing the Brew Fest is very consuming, takes a lot of energy ... Hopefully they’ll be doing it again next year.”
He said he understands that opening a new brewery is a time-consuming venture.
According to Graffin, the new brewery will allow 100,000 barrels of beer to be brewed annually, in contrast to the 12,000 barrels brewed at the Ithaca Beer Company’s current location.
“When you’re making a new brewery and a beer pub, everyone’s effort is needed and it’s definitely overwhelming,” Katleski said.