The biggest event in Livermore this Saturday is the Livermore Valley Craft Beer Festival. It will feature 42 breweries, 5 bands, and lots of food from local restaurants. It takes place at the Shrine Event Center on Lindbergh Avenue, near the airport, and will have indoor and outdoor areas for sipping, dancing, and mingling.
I met with Jon Sylvester, the organizer of Livermore Valley Craft Beer Festival, to find out more.
Sarah Browne: How did Livermore Valley Craft Beer Festival get started?
Jon Sylvester: It started because some friends of mine and I wanted to do some charity work, and Livermore needed a beer festival. Originally, we were going to do a food drive or a coat drive or something small at one of our favorite bars. One of the people I was hanging out with at the time, we’d go work or volunteer at one of the beer festivals around the bay area. Anyway, it turned into, “Let’s just do that!”
I used to produce events back on the music side, concerts and such, and it was kind of a big deal, like “I don’t know if we want to do this, that’s a lot of work” and they responded, “No, we should do it,” so I started talking to a few different people. Originally we were going to just do a little like 5 or 6 breweries here in Livermore, and then I met with one of the people I hang out with, Mike Pitsker, and another guy – George Beardsley, over at Eight Bridges, and the three of us saw a lot of potential and we started working on putting something together. Then we went and talked to the Shriners about being the charity group that we want to donate to, as well as using the Shrine Event Center as the venue. It was a perfect partnership and so with the space and the response we got the first year, it just took off, and now it’s the biggest beer festival in Livermore.
SB: How many breweries was it the first year?
JS: The first year I think we had 22? And the second year we had 33. And you would think we would have 44 this year, but no, we have 42. 42 breweries this year.
SB: Oh, nice! That’s the answer to life, the universe, and everything.
JS: *laughs* So…
SB: So how much of the proceeds are donated to Shriner’s?
JS: The first year we donated 85 percent. Second year we donated 65 percent, so about 70 percent total in the last two years. We’ll see what happens this year. It seems like we have enough sponsors that most of our things are covered. It all depends really on ticket sales, at this point. We’ve sold about almost half of the tickets already, but they’re selling pretty fast right now with the event being on Saturday and I get emails all day long: “You’ve sold 10 tickets!” “You’ve sold 5 tickets!” *laughs*
SB: What kind of food is going to be available?
JS: There’s going to be barbeque, there’s going to be pizza. First Street Alehouse is going to be doing pulled pork sandwiches, we have Black and Blue Barbeque doing a different kind of barbeque sandwich. Posada is doing ceviche and fish tacos. That’s probably going to be one of my favorites. I don’t know if you’re familiar with Posada, but that’s one of the classiest joints in town. For a beer festival, that’s pretty cool. And Double Barrel Wine Bar is going to have their food truck there with sliders, chicken tacos, and dessert.
SB: Which bands are playing this year?
JS: We have Diego’s Umbrella, they’re like a gypsy-rock band. They played here downtown at Blacksmith’s Square before. They’ve been touring around the country and around the world. We have Conscious Souls, which is like a rock-reggae kind of band, or a skate-surf-reggae kind of band. And there’s one with a long name—Stymie and the Pimp Jones Luv Orchestra—they’re like an R&B funk band and they got like a 10-piece band with horns. I’m really excited for that. There’s The Up and Down, an Irish-folk-drinking band, they’re pretty cool, and there’s a blues artist, Jeffery Halford.
SB: Is the Blue Brew Bus the shuttle?
JS: The Blue Brew Bus is doing a shuttle from downtown every half hour starting at 11:15, and afterwards bringing people back starting around 4. Then we also have a shuttle from BART provided by Black Tie starting at about 11 o’clock and circling. Trying to keep people off the road. So there’s that and of course Uber… we have designated driver tickets as well. We want everyone to be as safe as possible.
Tickets to Livermore Valley Craft Beer Festival are $45 pre-sale, $55 at the door, $75 for a VIP ticket (which includes a reusable bag and a t-shirt), and $20 for designated drivers (I’ve heard there’s also craft soda for the non-drinking crowd). $45 sounds a little steep at first, but considering more than half of it goes to charity and you get to see a lot of great bands it seems like a good deal. So, will you be going? Let us know in the comments!