Munster celebrated its first ever Ale Fest during a cloudy and cold Saturday, bringing together many different brewers from around the Midwest in order for the community taste what they had to offer.
The idea for the Ale Festival got going around a year ago when Jessica Degiulio, the Building Manager at Centennial Park, thought that a craft beer event was the perfect use for the facilities they had at the park. “We already have three breweries in town and we wanted to build on the popularity that they created,” Degiulio explained. “After seeing the success of other similar festivals from around the area we decided to give it a shot on our own.”
The festival gathered around 30 different brewers from Indiana, Michigan, Illinois and Wisconsin to participate in the event. The idea was not only welcomed by the companies invited but by the public as well. The festival pre-sold over 1,200 tickets and sold even more at the gate. There were also VIP package available that let people in an hour early and also supplied them with a VIP area. All of this made for an ecstatic Degiulio, noting that for their first year everything turned out great. “What really gets me is that all of these people showed up despite the terrible weather. I can’t wait for next year - I hope we get up to 2,500 and bring in some brewers that are from around the country.”
It wasn’t only the people putting on the event that were happy with the first ever Ale Fest - the attendees had similar feelings. “It’s been fantastic! It’s been probably one of the best days I’ve ever had,” exclaimed Janina Gintilas, who traveled all the way from Tinley Park, Illinois to attend the fest. “The atmosphere's great, everyone’s been really friendly. Plus there’s beer. That alone makes everything great.”
A true sense of togetherness from everyone who attended the first ever Ale Fest kept the day bright against the dark cloudy sky. Whether it was band Harmonica Neil creating some banter with people in the VIP area or all the way across the park with people taking pictures together with their beer swings, there was not a farce to be seen. All of this was explained perfectly by Phil Funari of local brewery Three Floyds Brewing.
“Every community getting together for a good cause - or really, good beer - makes you realize that there’s no reason not to be here. We all can stand around, enjoy each other and really enjoy what’s here in Northwest Indiana.” Funari went on to say that for people to support breweries that aren’t located in Munster is vital. “This is great because it gets people to try different breweries they haven’t been to. We’ve got some great neighbors showing off what they have as well. There’s 18th Street, Crown Brewing, Devil’s Trumpet, One Trick Pony and so many more doing some fantastic things beer wise.”
Besides the all of the different beers and hard ciders that were available for tasting there was also food to even everything out. Vendors provided cupcakes, pizza, Asian food, and True BBQ & Whiskey was on hand to give provide a delicious selection of meat. “We wanted to showcase all of the different things that our three chefs put together, which different than your regular Mom and Pop barbecue,” said Aaron Evett of True BBQ & Whiskey Bar. “The Ale Fest is a great place to put our food out front and center.” If attendees weren’t hungry enough for food there was also pretzel necklaces available to take bites between sips.
As Ale Fest has completed it’s first ever event, it’s planning on continuing to become a staple in Munster. With the response that the first year got it’s going to become something that everyone will look forward to because when there’s beer, there will be people. And with everything that Munster has to offer the Ale Fest will be popular for years to come.
The breweries that participated in the 1st Annual Munster Ale Fest were as follows: Three Floyd’s Brewing Chicago Beer Company, Chapman’s Brewing Company, Greenbush Brewing Co., Brickstone Brewery, Shoreline Brewery, 18th Street Brewery, Cutters Brewing Company, Burn ‘Em Brewing, Drewrys Brewing Company, Destihl Brewery, Goose Island Brewery, Summit Brewing Company, Crown Brewing, Lakefront Brewing, Only Child Brewing, Church Street Brewing Company, Devil’s Trumpet Brewing Co., Hailstorm Brewing Co., Vice District Brewing, Haymarket Pub & Brewery, Tapistry Brewing, Two Brothers Brewing Co., Tyranena, Founders Brewing Co., People’s Brewing Co., Bloomington Brewing Co., Finch’s Beer Co., and Hinterland Brewery.