New Times' Original Beerfest Is All Grown Up and Returning to Esplanade Park on October 10

Beer! Lotsa beer!
Beer! Lotsa beer!
Photo by Doug Fairall

Beerfest is legal! OK, so we've always held a legal festival, but this year, New Times Broward/Palm Beach's "Original" Beerfest (presented by Isle Casino), turns 18 years old. For 2015, the premier soiree of suds in Fort Lauderdale will be returning to the picturesque Esplanade Park in downtown Fort Lauderdale on Saturday, October 10.

New Times' festival is the largest and longest-running of its kind in the area, offering guests more than 100 sample options, including international, local, and craft beers. Over the years, it has evolved from a decadent bacchanalia of beery indulgence to an annual opportunity for small- and medium-sized breweries to set their booths alongside the macrobreweries, schooling eager tasters on hops, barley, malts, and wheat.

In that spirit, breweries from across the country will be represented thoroughly, including many local favorites that are looking to impress with enticing brews.

Hollywood Brewing Co.'s latest acquisition, veteran brewer Bobby Gordash, previously of Holy Mackerel and the Florida Beer Co., is set to hit the ground running by working with the current staff to create a special-release beer for the festival.

In addition to our friends from southern Broward, expect local beers from Islamorada Beer Co. and samples from up-and-comers Descarga Brewing Co.

"First let me say we're really excited about the 2015 version of this event," Descarga's Manny Jannes says. "We have attended this event in the past and have had great success. To us, this event is important for many reasons, but the one thing that makes this event a must-attend for both vendors and patrons is the sophistication of the craft-beer community. Participants really want to know about the beer, rather than just getting drunk."

What better way to get the beer community's interest than with a selection of Florida-forward beers like the Travieso, a prickly-pear cactus fruit ginger root saison, and the Piñazo, a pineapple scotch bonnet saison. Unbelievable culinary experimentation going on.

In addition, this will be the premier year for the crowning of Miss Beerfest. Who knows? Maybe you will be voted to wear the coveted title. What does it take to win? Pour "The Perfect Head" of beer. Hold the Beer Boot the longest. Show the judges your lovely modeling skills. Anything to win the hearts and minds of the judges, who include pinup model Miss Jenna Beth and WPLG Local 10's sports director, Will Manso.

Expect a sizable crowd for this one, because it's one of the more affordable festivals in the area, meaning if there's ever been a beer festival to try to get your feet wet, this is the one. As is customary, an upgraded VIP section is available, featuring a selection of food from some of Fort Lauderdale's best restaurants, unlimited liquor samples, and a slightly broader selection of beer.

Overall, the New Times "Original" Beerfest is an opportunity to sample new flavors, get acquainted with old favorites, or just share an evening with friends in the warm embraces of Fort Lauderdale alfresco.

The 18th-Annual New Times "Original" Beerfest
7 to 10 p.m. Saturday, October 10, in Esplanade Park, 400 SW Second St. in Fort Lauderdale. General admission is $30 in advance and $40 at the door. VIP admission — which gets you in at 6 p.m. and includes entry to the VIP area, with special craft-beer offerings as well as select liquors — is $75 in advance or $80 at the door. Visit

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