Seems soccer fans like to make beer as much as they like to drink it.
Hot weather and home brew made for perfect partners at the first-ever Modesto Beer Festival Saturday afternoon. The event was a fundraiser for the Modesto Chapter of the non-profit American Outlaws club. The group supports the U.S. National Soccer Team and area youth soccer teams. And, it just so happens, several of its 150-members are home brewers.
The idea for the Modesto Beer Festival grew out of the members’ complementary interests. The event at the Tuolumne River Lodge brought out few hundred folks to sample home concoctions from more than a dozen home brewers as well as a couple professional craft brewers. The offerings included a variety of styles from stouts to lagers and well beyond. Exotic flavorings ranged from chocolate mint to jalapeno, honey to pomegranate.
Small-batch craft brewing has been growing in popularity across the country as the microbew trend continues. While Modesto doesn’t have the flourishing beer scene of a Sacramento, Portland or San Diego — yet — local brewers said they are pleased to see more people branching out locally beyond Budweiser and Coors.
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Former American Outlaws Modesto chapter president Matt Ernst has been home brewing for four years. He would bring his creations to games and events, and found others in the group brewed as well.
“Modesto doesn’t have the number of craft brew enthusiasts as other places, but it is growing the community who appreciates craft foods and beers,” he said.
Among the brewers there who are making the jump to commercial craft brewing was Tom Lucas of Blaker Brewing. Lucas is building a brewery and tap room in Ceres which he hopes to open in the early fall.
“I love the fact that what we are doing here is part of a grassroots movement. (Craft brew) has always been grassroots. And this is where it starts with home brewers,” he said.
Home brewers aren’t allowed to sell their products to the public, but sampling for free at nonprofit events like the Modesto Beer Festival is allowed. Attendees like Kati Usher and Charla Morris, of Modesto, came to see what kind of beers were being made locally and were both impressed by the quality of the brews.
“You usually have to go out of town, like to Lodi or to Sacramento, to try things like this,” Usher said. “So this is really nice. It’s a really nice event for Modesto.”
Organizers hope to make the festival an annual fundraiser for the club. Proceeds will go to help Modesto Youth Soccer Association and the Stanislaus Youth Soccer League.