Record number of brewers will be at 3rd R.I. Brew Fest

Record number of brewers will be at 3rd R.I. Brew Fest

Crowds enjoy the festivities at the 2014 Rhode Island Brew Fest. (Valley Breeze photo by Bill Murphy)
First year for Crooked Current Brewery

PAWTUCKET - The third Rhode Island Brew Fest on Saturday, Jan. 31, at the Pawtucket Armory will feature the most vendors yet, with 57 breweries on hand.

Event founder Matt Gray told The Breeze that organizers want even more of a focus on beer in 2015, meaning that many "non-beer vendors" have been eliminated and replaced by brewers. Only the main event sponsors will remain.

The 57 breweries will essentially bring the event to capacity at the Armory, said Gray.

"That's pretty much what we can do," he said.

The number of beers is also up in 2015, from more than 125 last year and more than 220 to sample this year.

The R.I. Brew Fest sold out in each of the first two years, and will do so again, said Gray.

There are fewer than 100 tickets still available for either of the two sessions planned during the one-day event, with session 1 running from 1 to 4 p.m. and session 2 running from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. on Jan. 31.

Gray said organizers were "pretty lucky" that the first event three years ago coincided with the emergence of two new Pawtucket breweries, and the addition of a third local brewery at this year's festival, Crooked Current Brewery, will only continue to strengthen the city's reputation as a craft beer destination.

Pawtucket has become a "point of interest" across Rhode Island and even outside the state for those who love craft beer, said Gray, and Pawtucket has welcomed the beer industry "with open arms." Brewers are noticing the welcoming attitude and clean water, said Gray, and are choosing Pawtucket over other communities.

Gray said he and others see the Pawtucket Armory as "a great fit" for the R.I. Brew Fest, and plan to continue holding the event here.

The state's only farm brewery, Tilted Barn Brewery of Exeter, will make its first "big splash" at the Jan. 31 event, said Gray.

The R.I. Brew Fest is again limited to 600 people per session, said Gray, an effort to stay within capacity rules and maintain the intimate feel of this "smaller gathering"

Gray is again promising loads of fun, with $50 tickets allowing unlimited sampling over three hours and a gift of a unique glass created just for this year's festival. Steve Demers will provide the musical entertainment.

All but one Rhode Island brewery, including Pawtucket's Bucket Brewery and Foolproof Brewing Company, will be represented at this year's event, said Gray.

The format of this year's event will stay the same.

For more on the R.I. Brew Fest, visit www.ribrewfest.com. The Pawtucket Armory is located at 172 Exchange St. in Pawtucket.