My eternal mission in life has been to find live music and craft beer at the same place, same time. Last weekend, Rodney Mayo, owner of Respectable Street, Longboards, Howley's, and a whole slew of other gathering places hosted the inaugural Palm Beach Craft Beer Festival. In doing so, he and his crew called Subculture, gave me a place to set down my baggage and end my journey. I'd found what I'm looking for, brews and tunes, and it was good.
The Meyer Amphitheatre housed beers from 30 breweries from around the country, showing off their goods to 1,500 rabidly thirsty attendees. Besides bevs, there was a surf simulator, hot air balloon rides, and plenty of free swag. Oh, and did we mention there was live music?
Big Poppa E and the E Band broke the ice with some much needed atmospheric tunes. The bluesy, B.B. King-esque band was big on talent and vocals, turning the heads of a few drunken bystanders, who spilled their beer in the process. Poppa E told the crowd "We came here from Miami to play for you folks, and we can't even get a beer at a beer fest?" Immediately, guests rushed the stage with full glasses and bottles, ensuring that they wouldn't be parched for long. They played a blend of familiar tunes and their own self-proclaimed 'old school blues.'
Miami-based seven piece crowd pleasers Ketchy Shuby were up next. Their riveting live presence had drinkers gravitating toward the stage and dance just like people brimming with brew. All the band members donned tuxedos, which they slowly peeled away as their show escalated under the intense Florida sunshine. Their brand of "downtown soul," as they call it, had the guys rocking everything from tambourine to flute. Lead singer Jason Joshua Hernandez Rodriguez made love to the stage like it was his lil lady. Three quarters of the way through their set, Jason literally pulled me onto the stage where I got to experience just a minor taste of groupie heaven. The band welcomed me as one of their own as I danced it out with Jason and audience members made sure that I never saw the bottom of my beer glass. Two songs later, six-year old Rose also joined me on stage (and stole some of my thunder!) and we did some Temptations-style background dancing.
After a quick backstage hang sesh, I burst back onto the scene, ready to watch the Resolvers and gulp down some Shipyard Pumkpkinhead Ale before anyone else finished it off. The Resolvers are known to play big band reggae, a sunny sound mixed with funk and jazz. With full horn section and singing voices, they provided a summery backdrop for guzzling and gabbing.
When Guy Harvey hit the stage, everyone was sufficiently suds upped. But the slightly inebriated crowd stayed tame all night, and welcomed the band, who we recognized recently as one of Lake Worth's best, with open arms. They rocked the packed house with their chilled out original guitar riffs and an astounding cover of Pink Floyd's "Breathe." Guy Harvey managed to shine even as the sun was finally falling behind the horizon.
Another perk, Palm Beach Craft Beer Festival attendees got shitty for a cause. The event benefited the Loggerhead Marinelife Center and Surfrider Foundation, both dedicated to preserving oceanic wildlife. This made the event more than just a forum for getting sloshed and dancing with strangers.
And the beer? Well, Bud Light drinkers be damned! The festival made good on its name, offering up a bevy of craft brews fit for even the nastiest, most discerning beer geeks. Florida heavy hitters Cigar City, Tequesta Brewing Company, and the Funky Buddha were on hand. Undoubtedly the most exciting brewery in Florida, the Funky Buddha served a different beer every hour, including the smooth and highly anticipated Maple Bacon Coffee Porter. A meat-flavored beer, who'da thought?
The Palm Beach Craft Beer Festival ended how every event should, with no fights, no arrests, and an incredible amount of boozing, or rather beerzing.
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