Reno Int’l Canfest 2011
Last week Auggie and I loaded up the SRB rig to head out to Reno, NV for the third annual Canfest. This festival is an international competition and public tasting for canned beer which was started by the owners of Buckbean Brewing a canning only micro in Reno. They have done us all a great service in their efforts to promote the benefits of canned beers and we were excited to participate!
First off, Jackson to Reno is about an eleven hour drive. Fortunately for us, Ruby Mountain Brewing Company outside Wells, NV is right at the halfway point! Steve and Maggie Safford have always warmly welcomed us to their remote Angel Creek cattle ranch with microbrewery and whenever I pass through this part of the basin and range country I make it a point to stop in!
Next day we found ourselves in the” biggest little city” (any city is big to us!) just in time to attend the Canfest beer dinner and awards ceremony at the downtown Silver Legacy Casino. As simple mountain folk, our heads were spinning in the midst of all the slot- playing, dice-throwing, card-playing, buffet-eating mass of American humanity that was present. But we came back down to earth with a finely prepared multi-course meal with all canned beers as accompaniments.
The chef used last year’s canfest winners in the menu. At the after-dinner awards ceremony we were gratified to receive a Golden Can for our Pako’s IPA and a Bronze for Snake River Pale Ale. To top it off, after all the categories were announced, it was revealed that Pako’s IPA had been named “Best in Show” at the festival, Woo-Hoo! Go Snake!
On Saturday, the Buckbean owners, Doug and Dan, treated all the visiting brewers to a nice tour and sampling at their facility. They have a spic and span operation that stands poised to undertake a nice amount of growth as they mature into their market place. On shelves around the tasting room they have a collection of a can, a bottle and a pint glass from all fifty states and lots of foreign countries. We left some cans to fill in the Wyoming section alongside a lone pint glass from Bitter Creek Brewing in Rock Springs, WY. We grabbed a nice lunch at Great Basin Brewing, well known for their Ichy IPA and Cerveza Chillibeso chili beer. (Oh yeah and we found the Trader Joe’s in Reno, stocked up on snacking goodness to import back to Wyoming) A stop at total wine yielded us many speciality brews to cart back home as well.
By then we needed to get down to the business of setting up for the public festival. The organizers donate the proceeds to a non-profit and this year the festival money went to the Reno Bike Project, a non-profit that is certainly in line with my own cycling related tendencies!
The public flooded in and drank us dry by the end of the evening. The Pako’s ran out first and a few unfortunate, procrastinating souls missed out on that explosive Simcoe nose that has done so much for the beer’s reputation.
(One of our volunteer pourers, Zeina, had a unique Wyoming tie in. She went to high school with the late Matthew Shepard. Talking to her brought back a flood of memories of this sad chapter of Wyoming events. Zeina left me with a purple wrist bracelet that encourages us all to “erase hate”. If you don’t know this story please take a moment to visit the website…)
On Sunday, being the simple mountain folk that we are, Auggie and I left behind the glitter of the city and headed up to Tahoe for some sight-seeing and skiing. (of course we had schlepped our skis with us on this trip, yeah we’re like that!) Apres and dinner at the Fifty-fifty Brewpub in Truckee. Great food and beers here! Auggie had some high school buddies up in Squaw valley that we crashed with and then did a 5am Monday morning turn around back to the Tetons, home in time for our own winter to begin.
Canfest 2011 was AWESOME. We sincerely hope Buckbean will keep the ball rolling as the canning breweries are just going to increase geometrically and this festival is likely to become a major force in the craft brewing world.