400 N. Woodbury Rd Pitman, NJ 08071
Festival Date: 08/18/18
Reported by: Pretzel
We, the Beer Posse had very high expectations for the Summer Swelter Craft Beer Fest sponsored by Uptown Pitman, Kelly Green Brewing Co, Human Village Brewing Co., and Summer Swelter Fest. I mean, wouldn’t you expect a dry town to pull off a killer beer event? We had to make due with only half the Beer Posse (Pretzel, The Stoutmeister, and The Rabbit) since the other members were either on vacation or working! Priorities people!!! Where are your priorities?! But as usual I digress… Now where was I?? Oh yeah, Summer Swelter Fest. Well, we were not disappointed in the least! Given that this is their first year hosting a beer fest, I was amazed at the mindfulness that was put into the planning.
First up, the venue. The event was held on the grounds of the old Sony building on Woodbury-Glassboro road in Pitman. It has a large parking lot, and plenty of room. There was a specific area for drop-off and picks ups for those conscientious beer drinkers who used Designated Drivers (DD), Uber, or Lyft. Since the Beer Posse DD’s were all busy, I enlisted my son to drop us off and pick us up. Ok, yes I had to bribe him, but it was worth it, so the rest of us could enjoy all the great beers. The venue had plenty of room for the breweries, merchandise vendors, food trucks, bands, and it also offered many covered tents with table and chairs to allow the beer drinkers to get out of the sun. Party-goes were also encouraged to bring their own lawn chairs, which we did. We staked out an area under the tents between a few of the tables to pitch our camp. I did notice that many of the patrons grabbed up the tables and chairs, reserved them with their belongings and moved on to the festivities. Not cool man! Now no one else can take a rest. I had one friend who sat at one of these tables and was threatened by the person who had reserved it. This bad behavior is on us beer festers, not the organizers. If you want reserved seating, bring you own chairs! I do have a suggestion for next year for the planners – put up a few tents with no tables and chairs for those of us who plan ahead and brings our own chairs. Or better yet, you could provide the tents, no tables or chairs, and let us bring our own totally. Just a thought, and it may save you money on table and chair rentals. There was also an area set up with several corn hole games. Nice touch! There were 3 bands playing throughout the day, and I even got a chance to dance a bit (if you could call it that). There were plenty of port-a-potties with no lines, and each one had some little tidbit of beer trivia posted inside. It’s always nice to have reading material for the bathrooms. I actually thought about checking every bathroom out, but I had beers to taste. So I asked The Rabbit and The Stoutmeister to take pictures of these posting whenever they had to go. I was disappointed The Stoutmeister only took 1 picture. He usually goes a lot more often!
The VIP tickets were the bomb! Best VIP perks ever! First you got in an hour early, which is kinda standard for VIP tickets. But, and this is where it gets good, you were able to taste beers that weren’t available for the general admission. Many of the offerings were small batch specialty beers from many of the vendors. Once more suggestion …. The fest had a Brewery and Beer List for the general admission offerings. It would have been nice if you provided a VIP offering list as well. Luckily, I am always prepared and did my homework. I made my own list off of their festival website. I really loved the breweries that participated in this event. Almost 50 breweries, and most of them local to South Jersey. That makes it easy to visit your favorite breweries. The Rabbit, The Stoutmeister, and I had scoped out the main beers we wanted to try first. The other perk for the VIPs was that we were given three tokens to vote for the Best of the Festival beers. Given we all have different tastes, the 3 of us immediately split up with The Rabbit searching out the sours, The Stoutmeister looking for the Stouts and Porters, and I was covering everything else. The Rabbit and I did hang together since our targets were all in the same general area. I must say, I usually hate sours, just not my cup of tea, but Hidden Sands had a delicious Sand Blasted Watermelon sour that wasn’t overly tart and was actually my favorite of the day. It was The Rabbit’s favorite as well, and we rarely agree on our tasting preferences.
We took a break for lunch after the initial VIP hour had ended, and we all opted for empanadas from The Empanada Guy food truck. YUM! I wish I could have tried more of the food trucks, but we had limited time, and way too many beers to try! We also checked our the merchandise vendors, and I bought a couple t-shirts. We met a lot of friendly and fun people along the way, and reconnected with several of our favorite brewers. Alas, as usual, the day ended all too soon, and I had to head back home for my post-beer-fest 14 hour nap. Thanks Swelter Fest for a fabulous day.
Meanwhile, just to recap a few suggestions. (and mind, these are not criticisms, just ideas…)
- Provide a VIP beer list. You can’t taste all 50 beers in an hour (although you can try), so you need to be selective and scope out your favorites.
- Provide a few empty tents for those of us who bring our own chairs. Or, just do away with providing tables and chairs, make the drinkers bring their own.
- Luckily it was a beautiful day, but if it’s a true swelter fest next year, a misting station would be a nice addition.
Also, thanks for the police and medical personnel who were present to keep us safe. See you next year!
Favorite Beers of the Day:
- Pretzel – Hidden Sands, Sand Blasted Sour Watermelon; Third State, Bourbon aged Irish Imperial Stout, King’s Road, Summer Pleasure Apricot, Czig Meister – ABACABB – Barrel-aged Barleywine Ale
- The Stoutmeister – Human Village, Dark side of the Peach; Czig Meister, ABACABB – Barrel-aged Barleywine Ale; Third State, Bourbon Cherry Sour Irish Stout
- The Rabbit – Hidden Sands, Sand Blasted Sour Watermelon
- Eight and Sand won the Best Beer of the Festival with their Tonnage Hound Barleywine Ale
Additional Posse Comments:
- Pretzel – I loved the little trivia items on display in the port-a-potties. It’s always nice to have some reading material available.
- The Stoutmeister – Never had a sour stout before, thank you Third State!
- The Rabbit – I had a blast at the first time event and look forward to going back.
- The Rabbit – Empanada Guy’s empanadas were really good!
Sponsor websites – Sponsored by Uptown Pitman, Human Village Brewing, Kelly Green Brewing
- Uptown Pitman – http://uptownpitman.com/summer-swelter-craft-beer-festival/
- Kelly Green Brewing Co. – http://kellygreenbrewing.com/
- Human Village Brewing Co. – https://www.humanvillagebrewingco.com/
- Summer Swelter Beer Fest on Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/swelterbeer/
Overall Pretzel Score (8.78 out of 10):
Final Scorecard (click to open): SummerSwelterFest2018