Summer Swelter Craft Beer Fest 2019 (Pitman, Gloucester County)

Summer Swelter Craft Beer Fest
Total Turf Experience
614 Lambs Rd
Pitman, NJ  08071

Reported by:  The Rabbit

The second anniversary of the swelter fest had a lot of improvements over the first year.  The location was far better for beer drinking as it had both inside and outside components available.  The inside had 33 breweries along with several vendors and a secluded area for VIP ticket holders.  The outside had a stage with 2 live bands, axe throwing (thankfully it’s self-contained because there were quite a few errant throws being made), several food trucks, vendors and 22 breweries.  The area even had a large tent with tables and chairs for patrons to use to get out of the sun.  Therefore, attendees were exposed to the sun and heat for far less time than last year.  Of the 54 breweries in attendance, 53 of them offered a special beer to VIP ticket holders to sample and vote on in the first hour of the beer fest.  Knowing this ahead of time, we felt it necessary to come up with a general plan on how to sample all the preferred brews.  First, we reviewed a pre-released beer list and selected a subset of the VIP beers offered as we didn’t want to miss out on one that we wanted to try.  Next, we opted to start with the 21 breweries located outside, thereby avoiding the potentially long lines at the start, then move inside when the lines get shorter.  Overall, the plan worked as the ratio of attendees to breweries, as well as the layout of the breweries, allowed for small, quick moving lines.  As a matter of fact, the longest waits were experiences in lines for the food trucks.  (I quite liked those bacon jalapeno tots.)  After the VIP hour concluded, I never felt as though I had to wait to use either the restrooms or the beer.  Speaking of which, there was a lot of variety offered and I never once thought “oh, great, another IPA!”.  I definitely recommend attending this event and look forward to next year.

A few additional thoughts.  The main entrance to the beer fest was not clearly marked, nor was the exit from the building to the outside area.  After getting through check-in, attendees moved down the hall to collect the sample glasses and swag bags (for non-drinkers), before heading left to the staging area.  Unfortunately, the main entrance to the beer fest was to the right of the table.  When the gates opened, there was a convergence of people who were waiting in the staging area, passing the table with the glassware while others, who were just admitted were trying to get their taster glass before heading inside.  With three check-in lines available, an additional table in each lane, with glassware immediately afterwards should alleviate that issues.

Reported by:  Pretzel

As we did a full review of this beer fest last year, I have asked the participating Beer Posse members (Pretzel, The Stoutmeister, and The Rabbit), to provide a paragraph on their experience.  B3 was unable to join us as he was dragged on vacation by his wife, Princess.  So we had a Fathead made of him and took him along on our adventure.

This is the second year for the Summer Swelter Craft Beer Fest, and I was not disappointed.  In fact their thoughtful attention to detail makes this one of my favorite beer fests.  This year the beer fest was sponsored by Neck of the Woods Brewing Company, and the venue was moved to Total Turf Experience.  55 breweries participated, and there were 2 distinct areas to enjoy their offerings – inside and outside.  The Bands, food trucks, several vendors, axe throwing and 22 breweries were outside.  When the heat got too much, you would move inside to cool-off and visit 31 additional breweries and more vendors.  Inside also provided seating dedicated to VIP tickets complete with tables and chairs.

This year the Summer Swelter Fest provided swag bags for DD’s (Designated Drivers) which contained gifts and coupons from local establishments and sponsors.  I meant to do a video with the volunteers showing what was offered, but again I lost my head once I saw the list of VIP beers, and I totally missed this swag bag review.

Let’s talk about VIP tickets for a second.  This beer fest has the best VIP perks of any beer fest I have attended.  You get in 1 hour early, get a complimentary tasting glass and pint glass, and you get 3 tokens to vote for your favorite beers.  Almost all the breweries had a special beer just for the VIP session!  It was almost overwhelming to try to taste all the special beers before the general session hoards joined the fun.  Luckily for us, the Swelter Fest provided a cheat sheet – one side had the VIP beers on tap organized by inside vs. outside, and the other side listed the general session beers on tap again organized by inside/outside.   This was awesome!  Usually I have to make my own list based on what’s posted on the event website.  We were able to hit 16 in the first hour.  (I wish we had more time with the VIP beers).  We found a plethora of excellent brews.  (See our list below for our favorite beers of the day).  Now usually, I’m smarter about my tasting, splitting drinks with The Stoutmeister, so we can taste more beers.  BUT NO!  The beer was so good, that we all ended up doing full pours!  Oh well, live and learn.  I’ll have to make a note of this for next year.

Reported by:  The Stoutmeister

Let me start off by congratulating Summer Swelter Fest for another successful event even though it can still use some improvements.  I like the new location where we have part of it indoors where we can escape from summer’s intense heat although I must say that it was still hot and humid inside.  I still would recommend misting units outside.  The other problem we had was that when we arrived, it was not clear WHERE we had to enter to get into the festival.  Then, on our way out, we tried to get out where we came it and the security guard told us that we are not allowed to go out that way…SO, were there any festival EXIT signs anywhere?  I must be pretty loaded not to find a single exit sign or I must be a poor observer…OR, that sign I was looking for might not have even existed at all.

And now, the brews: The VIP brews were wonderful…we made sure that we try the VIP brews in the first hour.  The rest of the beers were also very good…kudos to our New Jersey breweries! It was very difficult to choose the beer we wanted to vote for.  Our biggest mistake was that Pretzel and I used to share our tasting glass so that we drink only half a pour and keep ourselves sober for the rest of the festival.  BUT, due to all the excitement, we forgot to do that and drank full pours throughout the festival.  We had a lot of fun though…but should I say, “EXCUSES, EXCUSES, EXCUSES” or “GUILTY, GUILTY, GUILTY?”

Favorite Beers of the Day:

  • Pretzel – Hidden Sands, Citrus Sand Blasted Sour; Backward Flag, Front Porch Swingin’; Ship Bottom Brewery, Baconator; Oyster Creek, YELLOWcake Cream Ale; Devil’s Creek, Aurielle
  • The Rabbit – Hidden Sands, Citrus Sand Blasted Sour; Vinyl Brewing, Cru Jones; Brotherton, Cranberry Cultivation
  • The Stoutmeister – Hidden Sands, Citrus Sand Blasted Sour;  Berlin Brewing Company, Bananas Foster;  Brotherton, Cranberry Cultivation

Summer Swelter Winning Brews

  • 1st place – Westville Brewery, Peach Crumb Cake
  • 2nd place – Hidden Sands, Citrus Sand Blasted Sour
  • 3rd place – Eight & Sand, Steel and Snow

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