The 5th Annual Petaluma River Craft Beer Festival on Sept. 16 gives both craft-beer neophytes and connoisseurs a chance to experience the exploding North Bay brew scene, in tandem with some of the tastiest local food in Petaluma.
“This is a more intimate event than many beer festivals,” said Onita Pellegrini, CEO of the Petaluma Chamber of Commerce, “because we limit ticket sales to about 1,200 — which is why we usually sell out.” She said the downtown riverfront setting enhances the experience for locals and visitors alike. “And the single $40 price is a plus because it covers both beer tastings and food — and the food portions are very nice.”
General admission includes a souvenir glass and ten tickets for beer or food tastings. Dedicated Driver tickets are available for $20, for which you receive six tickets for food, plus free coffee, tea and lemonade.
The event is sponsored by the Petaluma Area Chamber of Commerce and the Rotary Club of Petaluma Valley. All proceeds will benefit river projects, local non-profits, special Petaluma Chamber programs, and Rotary’s youth and education programs.
“Our city’s downtown riverfront setting for the festival is amazing,” said Libby FitzGerald of the Craft Beer Fest Committee of the Petaluma Valley Rotary Club. “You’ve got Petaluma’s oldest buildings, the cobblestones, the railroad tracks and the river.”
The festival will feature tastings from twenty-one local breweries, all but six located in Sonoma County, plus two local makers of hard cider. There will be fourteen local food vendors.
FitzGerald said the public can anticipate more food options this year than previously, including samplings from a new restaurant and one that hasn’t even opened yet. “It’s a fabulous group of food vendors,” she said.
“The breweries love the festival because it is more contained, yet the setting is beautiful and people have room to move around,” FitzGerald said. She added that there will be plenty of canopies for shade.
Musical entertainment will be provided on the “River Side” stage by Petaluma Pete (John Maher the piano player, a familiar figure in downtown Petaluma); Randy & the Special Agents, a Sonoma County blues band; and Sugar Moon, a swing band whose repertoire includes Americana favorites and gypsy jazz classics.
“We will feature a couple of our ‘Limited Release’ beers,” said Anthony Lopez of Seismic Brewing Company, referring to beers brewed in one batch and sold as draft only. “These beers mostly stay here locally,” he said.
Bear Republic will bring Double Aught (Bohemian Pilsner) and Hop Shovel (American IPA), according to Drey Meyers, event coordinator.
Ken Weaver, author of The Northern California Craft Beer Guide, says the event is an opportunity for both the newly curious and experienced beer tasters. He recommends that the former group pay particular attention to breweries near their homes, so that they can follow up with visits to tasting rooms. For knowledgeable fans of craft beers, the festival is a chance to see what is going on locally in what is a national craze for craft breweries.
Weaver helped organize and curate the first Petaluma River Craft Beer Festival in 2013. A regular contributor to The Bohemian and past editor of All About Beer Magazine, he has volunteered his services to help make the event a success for the past five years.
What: 5th Annual Petaluma River Craft Beer Festival on Sept. 16
When: Sept. 16, 1–5 p.m.
Where: Downtown Petaluma
Breweries at the festival:
• 101 North Brewing, Petaluma
• Barrel Brothers Brewing, Windsor
• Bear Republic Brewing, Cloverdale
• Benoit Casper Brewing, Richmond
• Cloverdale Ale
• Cooperage Brewing, Santa Rosa
• Crooked Goat Brewing, Sebastopol
• Dempsey’s Brewing, Petaluma
• Fogbelt Brewing, Santa Rosa
• Grav South Brew Co, Cotati
• Headlands Brewing, Mill Valley
• HenHouse Brewing, Santa Rosa
• Heretic Brewing, Fairfield
• Lagunitas Brewing, Santa Rosa
• Marin Brewing, Larkspur
• Moonlight Brewing, Santa Rosa
• Moylan’s Brewery, Novato
• Plow Brewing, Santa Rosa
• Seismic Brewing, Santa Rosa
• Sonoma Springs Brewing, Santa Rosa
• Woodfour Brewing, Sebastopol
Local Hard Ciders:
• Golden State Cider, Sebastopol
• Gowan Heirloom Cider, Anderson Valley
• Bellyfull Dinners, Petaluma
• Brasil BBQ, Petaluma
• Charley’s Deli, Petaluma
• Cultivate, Petaluma
• El Roy’s Mexican Grill, Petaluma
• F.A. Ninos Godfather of Sauce
• Palms Grill, Petaluma
• Papa Murphy’s
• Petaluma Coffee & Tea Company
• Rotary Club of Petaluma Valley—Famous Grilled Sausages
• Rosso Pizzeria, Petaluma
• Sax’s Joint, Petaluma
• Trader Joe’s
• Twin Oaks Roadhouse, Penngrove