September 6, 2010

Town, Gown Unite for Brew Fest

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Against the scenic backdrop of Cayuga Lake, Ithaca played host Saturday to its annual town-gown mixer of sorts: the fourth annual Brew Fest.For hundreds of local Ithacans, it was a chance to congregate at Stewart Park on a mostly beautifully afternoon and enjoy great food, music and, of course, beer in the company of neighbors. For Ithaca’s college population, it served as a welcomed respite to imbibe something other than the Keystone Lights and Four Lokos that typically fuel parties throughout Collegetown.At some points, the contrast in the two demographics was evident. For instance, as some beer-tasters diligently jotted down their gustatory observations, others belligerently raced their friends to see who could make it first to the next tasting booth. But, overall, a sense of community and unity seemed to flow from the taps at Brew Fest as freely as the copious amounts of beer from around the world.Brew Fest, now in its fourth year, was started in 2007 by Dan Mitchell ‘00, president of Ithaca Beer Company. This year, the festival featured more than 45 local, regional, national and international breweries. Attendees had the opportunity to sample beer from as close as Ithaca and Watkins Glen to as far as Munich and Dublin.  For Ithaca College junior Jessica Boldijc, Brew Fest represented an upgrade from the typical college beer selection.“Brew Fest makes me feel privileged to drink good beer,” she said. “We’re not used to drinking good beer on a regular basis. We’re used to just buying Busch or Bud Light, but going around and being able to get Sam Adams and Blue Moon is great.”Longtime Lansing, N.Y., residents Frank and Annette White, said that they return to Brew Fest each year for the “fun and relaxing atmosphere.”Dressed in traditional, German Oktoberfest garments, the couple became instantly popular with passersbys.“Oktoberfest starts in two weeks, so it just seemed like the right thing to do,” Mr. White said of the couple’s wardrobe decision, as they paused to take a photo with two young people stumbling towards the free TCAT shuttle buses to get home.While only several years old, Brew Fest has quickly become an Ithaca institution and tradition for recent Cornell alumni and current students alike.Sam Rubin ’11 said that she had long awaited when she would be able to attend Brew Fest.“Brew Fest really brings together the local community and it’s like a party for all of Ithaca,”Rubin said. “I’ll be coming back for sure.”

Original Author: Michael Stratford