CARLSBAD — Holiday Park is the place where beer fans will explore their taste buds.
On Saturday, the third annual Carlsbad Brewfest commences from noon-4:30 p.m. at the park.
On tap will be 35 craft brewers with 70 beers for eager beer enthusiasts, said festival co-chairman JR Phillips.
The annual event has steadily grown over the past three years, but staying true to its core principles is what makes it unique, he added.
“We’ve really been able to garner support in the community,” Phillips said. “We have to stay true to the industry that is allowing us to have a profitable event. We don’t want to leverage the craft brewing industry for our benefit.”
Phillips and fellow co-chariman Mike Pfankuch, developed the event for the Carlsbad Hi-Noon Rotary Club, which they are both members. All proceeds go to the club and are redirected to charities and community service organizations in the city.
In addition, the rotary club reaches out to other volunteer groups and individuals to assist with setup and tear down as well as pouring beers.
For the non-rotary volunteers, the club will donate $25 per hour per individual to their community or community service organization or to a cause of their choice.
“The cool thing is what we did is totally innovative,” Pfankuch said. “It should be about $7,000-$8,000 just in labor. The remainder, which we are thinking should be about $30,000, will be donated to community projects we put together.”
This year’s edition, however, has increased its number of beer vendors, but also adding a bit of flare. Numerous games are in place as well as a DJ, grand prizes consisting of four GoPro cameras and two guest speakers.
As the festival has found itself, so have the vendors, although Phillips said they had to turn away some including macro breweries and wineries.
“We are probably going to strictly stick with the craft beer,” he added.
In the run-up to the festival, however, Phillips said hundreds of tickets were sold in their early period during April and May. He said the early-bird sales for returning patrons added more credibility to the event.
And with the early success and word of mouth growing, Phillips said he expects between 1,500-2,000 patrons this year.
“In the third year, we are starting to see the fruits of our labor,” Phillips said. “We are expecting to double our crowd.
The inaugural event displayed 25 brewers, 30 last year and now 35. In addition, the festival partnered with Lyft, the ride sharing company, to provide designated drivers to and from Holiday Park.
Another highlight will be the Electra Bicycle Company and a bicycle club, which will promote the event with a ride through the city prior to the opening.
Also joining the festivities are Paul Segura, brewmaster for Karl Strauss Brewing Company, and Erik Fowler, a certified cicerone education coordinator for White Labs. The two will give presentations about brewing in the festival’s beer education tent.
“We are just trying, every year, to bring it to another dimension,” Pfankuch said.
Still, the event has garnered the support from local and international players such as GoPro, Premier Stainless Systems, Visit Carlsbad and the Rincon Band of Luiseno Indians, to name a few.
The tribe, who is sponsoring the tasting cups, is also getting into the craft brew craze with its SR76 beer, Phillips said.
“We are starting to appeal to people to partner (with),” Phillips said. “It’sone thing to go out the first year or two and tell people how great you are going to be. But we’ve proven ourselves the last couple years that we are an event that will probably be around awhile.”
Tickets are available online at www.carlsbadbrewfest.org or at Holiday Park on Saturday. Volunteers can also register through the website or the Carlsbad Hi-Noon Rotary Club.
Steve Puterski covers Carlsbad and Vista. For tips or story ideas, contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @StevePuterski.