Lexington’s craft beer fest clears hurdles to get all local breweries on … – Lexington County Chronicle

Lexington is welcoming breweries from all over the Carolinas as For the Love of Hops Craft Beer Festival, which takes over the town’s Icehouse Amphithere this weekend.

This year’s festival will feature more than 20 breweries, which will each feature two or three brews available for tastings.

The event “gives people an ability to know who the local breweries are,” said Walker Brewer, the venue promoter for Icehouse Amphitheatre. “You know, the craft beer market is a busy market, but by showcasing our local breweries here in the Carolinas … it allows people to see what they have to offer.”

Tickets will include unlimited samples of beer and live music from Chuck Mountain, a blues-rock band from North Carolina. Food trucks will also be available with additional charges.

“Food trucks, live music and cold beer,” said Brewer. “That’s all you need, right?”

And for some, that truly is all they need. For the Love of Hops has averaged 1,200 attendees in the last few years and Brewer expects this year to be no different. 

All four breweries in Lexington County will be represented, as Hazelwood, the lone production brewery within the town limits, along with Angry Fish, which sits just outside of town, along with West Columbia’s Savage Craft and Cayce’s Steel Hands will all be on hand pouring beers.

Savage Craft confirmed to the Chronicle that it will be pouring a Cream Ale with Tahitian vanilla, a German-style Purge Under Pilsner and its Galaxy Banger New England-style IPA.

In South Carolina, all breweries are required by state law to team with a distributor to reach customers off premise, both in stores and in bars, and five in-state distributors will have breweries represented, with KW Columbia (14), Holy City (eight), Low Country (six) all having multiple and Bear Island (which represents Angry Fish) and Comer (which represents Hazelwood) each having one.

Hazelwood was the lone Lexington County brewery not announced as an official participant at last year’s festival.

The brewery declined to comment on why that was or how it came to be on this year’s lineup.

Brewer explained that Hazelwood will be at the event for the first time in years, with its previous absence coming due to a lack of communication between the venue and distributors. 

“We’ve always wanted Hazelwood there,” Brewer said. “Unfortunately, sometimes their distributors don’t respond. It’s been a couple years since I’ve had them at the event, which I don’t like, but with the blue laws in South Carolina, I can’t go down there and purchase the beer from them directly.”

The event also brings attention to smaller breweries that are just starting out or are looking for a new audience while highlighting those in the immediate area.

“Maybe people don’t know who our local breweries are or what beers they have,” Brewer said. “It gives [businesses] a chance to put beer in front of somebody in the sample standpoint where they might be on the fence that they want to buy something, but they don’t want to purchase a whole six pack or a case of beer.”

Brewer said he spends months curating the lineup for the festival, citing communication as the factor that causes the most stress. Some smaller breweries won’t be featured in the event because of a lack of response from distributors.

“Unfortunately, I’m buying beer from them once a year while they’re dealing with restaurants who purchase beer from them weekly,” Brewer said. “That’s what it has to come down to … I physically can’t go and purchase beer. All the local breweries, of course, are invited. It’s about whose distributor gets back with us and provides the information we need.”

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