Pensacola, Florida
Tuesday August 14th 2018

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Small Batch Bliss

By Jessica Forbes

Have you found yourself in a beer rut, ordering up the same old go-to brews again and again? Maybe you’re just out to try a few new craft brews for the thrill of it, or are interested in learning a bit about the art of craft beer production. Whatever your beer-related motivation may be, the Emerald Coast Beer Festival (ECBF) provides an excellent opportunity to savor new flavors from craft beer operations brewing locally and throughout the U.S.

Held each year at Seville Quarter, the Escambia Bay Homebrewers (EBH) coordinates the event, a much-anticipated occasion for beer fans in Pensacola and the surrounding region. This year, EBH expects around 300 beers to be on hand, supplied by over 50 participating microbreweries, brew pubs, and homebrew clubs.

Several of the brews are extremely limited quantities provided by homebrewers, an aspect of the festival that makes it distinct from many other beer tasting events.

“Typically what happens amongst homebrewers is they really do save some of their best stuff for this beer festival,” said Derrell Winowich, owner of Chattahoochee Brewing Company in Phenix City, Alabama and founder of The Hopheads, a homebrew club also in Phenix City.

“The number one reason I keep coming back is that they have always been inclusive of the homebrew clubs and homebrewers on equal footing with commercial breweries,” he stated.

Winowich attends six beer festivals throughout the year in the Southeast. He began brewing beer at home in 1998, which was also the first year he attended the early incarnation of the ECBF; he hasn’t missed a year of the festival since either as a homebrewer or, as of February 2013, a microbrewery owner.

“Even though I own a commercial brewery now, as a homebrewer when I started, they treated everybody the same and that’s extremely unique in the brew festival world,” Winowich said.

This is the 14th year that Seville Quarter has hosted and EBH has organized the festival, which the Florida Brewer’s Guild began several years earlier as an end of summer reunion for brewers from throughout the Southeast.

The festival has grown to include dozens of participating craft breweries—such as Sweetwater, Lagunitas, Terrapin, and Back Forty among others—and distributors who work with craft and microbreweries across the country.

“For me personally, attending the Emerald Coast Beer Festival about seven years ago is what really got me into craft beer,” stated April King, who now serves as the secretary of EBH. “Before this festival, I just thought there were just the macro brands, nothing really special. I found out there are so many different styles—you can do practically anything with beer.”

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