Everything you need to know about this Saturday plus a sit-down with co-founder Alan "A-Plus" Raines
Okay, you have seen a few postings regarding the upcoming Atlanta beer fest of awesomeness, HOToberfest! The beer list is sick (more than 260 to sample), the vibe is chill, East Atlanta’s Glenwood Park neighborhood is huge, consumers judge what the best beers are, and the fact that HOToberfest’s the first beer festival to kick off the best month of the year, its 4th year is going to be killer! They even have an app on deck and some secret goodies up their sleeves, so you know I’m in the house.
Oh yeah, speaking of “they,” the founders of HOToberfest—Alan, Denise and Tryon—are pretty damn cool, too. In fact, I recently shared a bottle of 2008 SweetWater Festive Ale with Alan, and asked him some questions about how gangster October 1st is going to be. Ladies and gents, the homey (and complete beer nut!), Alan aka A-Plus.
Ale: First of all, this brew is delicious. Good lookin’ out on the vintage SweetWater sipper. Now, talk about the history of the HOToberfest. What made you start one and how have you progressed over the years?
Alan: After starting and running another beer fest in Atlanta, we wanted to step back and create a festival that was really geared to the growing Atlanta craft beer community; it was the beer “they” want to see at a festival. Our beer selection is not snobbish but it is does cover a very rare, broad range from typical beer fests.
What made settle on having it at the Glenwood location?
Glenwood Park is an entire neighborhood that is an EarthCraft certified property. This is the perfect setting for a sustainability based festival and is conveniently near the center of metro Atlanta. We have a built-in stage, green space, a kids area and plenty of room to casually taste 260+ great beers. Nearly four acres in all!
Yeah, a lot of people love the area especially for the kids. Most festivals are packed, sardine-style. Yours definitely delivers breathing room! What are some cool moments you remember over the last four years?
Ha! There are a few. During year 1, just seeing it all come together in 92 days and people LOVING every aspect of the event! Year 2, the hurricane weather stopped and we ended up having perfect weather, 1,000 more people and we wrote a decent couple of checks to our non-profit recipients. Year 3 started to see the real evolution of the beers, featuring 5 casks made exclusively for HOToberFest. No one else in the country had these brews!
And they were good as hell, too! Okay, stay focused. What difficulties did you have to hurdle to get where you are today?
Trying to juggle family, my real job and the festival process. This is an 8-month process, believe it or not.
I know it! I have witnessed the grind with my own eyes. If you could change a law regarding beer festivals, what would you guys pick?
Well, the city has been known to NOT make the festival biz an easy one at times, so we have jumped through a lot of hoops. I would ask for a one-day sampling allowance so we could bring in any beers that we like from around the world, not currently registered in GA.
I second the motion. What makes your festival different from all of the others?
Namely, our consumer-judged competition component is about the beer and truly unique. All of the attendees can use our smartphone ballot app to taste, rank and vote for their top three brews of the day and then keep up with their faves afterwards. This truly helps them learn about the beers and then puts that new knowledge to work after the festival.
Okay, keep it flowing. Anything else you want to school my peeps about HOToberfest?
In addition, HOToberFest is more than a beer festival. We are actually a sustainability festival, promoting conscious living and informed choices. We donate 100 percent of our proceeds to a couple of hard working NPOs, TREES Atlanta and Legacy World Missions. Wow, big stuff huh? (Laughing). With two major components, we have something for everyone!
Do I really need to say any more about HOToberfest? See you there, homies!