If you're looking for a reason to visit Forest Park this weekend, Gut Check has you covered -- there's going to be a festival, a festival of beer. The annual St. Louis Microfest hosts a massive collection of 100 craft breweries including local and national favorites beginning Friday, May 3, through Saturday, May 4. The two-day festival is broken up into three sessions, each with individual admission tickets: Friday from 7 to 10 p.m. ($30), Saturday afternoon from noon to 4 p.m. and Saturday evening from 6 to 10 p.m. ($34). Once inside, your ticket comes with a small tasting glass into which each brewery station will provide a two-ounce pour.
Always a fan of beer drinking in the park, Gut Check made some calls to learn more about this year's festival.
In addition to general admission, each festival session also offers the "V.I.P. Experience," a new feature this year that allows access to reserved tents where Boulevard Brewing Company will feature its smokehouse ales matched with specialty dishes courtesy of Iron Barley, along with samples of exclusive brews made by several local establishments just for the festival (Friday's V.I.P. ticket, $47; $54 for Saturday's sessions).
The St. Louis Microfest, however, is more than just a chance to appreciate beer. Proceeds go straight to Lift for Life Gym, an inner-city youth organization focused on providing a safe space for physical activity and general wellness. Cindy Scanlon, development manager for Lift for Life, notes that the St. Louis Microfest serves as the organization's biggest annual fundraiser. Scanlon believes the festival, one of the city's largest of its kind, has done much to foster the growing appreciation of craft brewing. "With eighteen years of history, we would argue that we've done a lot to help get the word out about craft beers in the St. Louis area and the Midwest in general," she says, adding happily that attendance continues to grow each year.
Scanlon also reminds us that there is more to enjoy than beer at St. Louis Microfest. Live music will be blasting from the Shock Top stage, the Goose Island demo tent will serve as a classroom for home brewers and the generally curious, and there's even a silent auction. If you need to grab some food Hendricks BBQ (1200 South Main Street, St Charles; 636-724-8600), the Dam (3173 Morganford Road) and food truck Steamroller Bagel and Deli (@steamrollerstl; 314-458-2546) will be onsite and ready to serve.
Though each session has its perks, Saturday afternoon looks like the premier time to attend: The festival's home-brewing competition winners will be announced, and the Brewer Olympics take place, surely a glorious sight to see.
Parking will be available at the Upper Muny Lot in Forest Park. For a full schedule of events, list of participating breweries and ticket purchasing information, visit the beer fest's official website.
See also: - RFT review of Hendricks BBQ