There's Nothing Like Beer to Draw a Crowd
FORTUNA — After only three hours, volunteers at the gate of Rohner Park had already handed out all 2,000 commemorative beer glasses that were ordered for the fourth annual Hops in Humboldt celebration — and the day wasn’t even half over.
Tina Taylor, the festival’s coordinator, said record numbers of beer lovers had turned out for this year’s event and more were still on the way.
”We ran out of the glasses by 2 p.m. and had to start giving out ones from last year,” she said. “This is the best year yet and it’s just getting bigger and bigger.” Taylor estimated that by 4:30 p.m. nearly 4,000 sud-guzzlers had shown up for the event.
What was it that brought so many people to Fortuna? Redding resident Renee Brewer put it rather succinctly.
”Beeeer!” said Brewer, raising her empty glass up over her head. “I’ve been coming to Hops in Humboldt all four years. I kind of have to. My last name is Brewer.”
Beer is right. More than 25 microbreweries and a handful of home brewers were at the event, pouring unlimited tastes for thirsty festival goers.
Home Brewer, Will Rogers said he has been bringing his creations to Hops in Humboldt since the beginning of the event four years ago. Rogers and his wife Cynthia have been brewing beer for 15 years and use events like Hops in Humboldt to test the wares of their Jolly Roger Brewery.
”The most popular so far has been the Honey-wheat,” said Rogers. “It has a hint of peach. The ladies have really been liking it.”
Rogers said in addition to all the fun and the opportunity to let people try his brew, he comes to the festival every year to compete. Last year the Jolly Roger Brewery took home the prize for best garage brew. Rogers said he brought 25 gallons of his homemade beer to the festival and was almost out after just a few hours.
Judging by the line snaking out from in front of the Jolly Roger Brewery booth they were a shoe in to win the award for best home brew. But alas, that award ended up going to Heather Down Brewery. Heather Down Brewery also took home the Mayor’s Choice award.
The Tasters Choice award went to Mad River Brewery with Eel River Brewery coming in a close second.
Competitions at the festival were not limited to the beer tasting. There were also beer-related skill competitions including a tray relay in which teams had to run a race while balancing a glass of beer on a rickety tray, a blind taste test where competitors had to identify unmarked beer and don’t forget the belching contest. That one is pretty self explanatory.
Hops in Humboldt started a bit by accident, said Taylor. She said the goal was to come up with an event that would get people to Fortuna and the beer festival idea beat out ideas such as a kite flying festival and a marathon.
”The idea was to fill up hotels here in Fortuna and get people from out of town to visit local businesses,” Taylor said. “It sure did it too.”
Luc Cebulski can be reached at 441-0563 or [email protected]