Highlights of the 2012 Better Brew Tasting Garden at SubZERO Festival

2012 Better Brew Tasting Garden takes place in San Jose - The Valley of the Heart's Delight
Downtown San Jose artwork at the 2012 Better Brew Tasting Garden – The Valley of the Heart’s Delight

Amidst picture perfect weather and orchestration by South Bay craft beervangelist Peter Estaniel of BetterBeerBlog, the 2012 Better Brew Tasting Garden craft beer festival, took place last Friday, June 1, at the 5th Annual SubZERO Festival of arts and culture in downtown San Jose.

The 2012 Better Brew Tasting Garden takes place at the 5th Annual SubZERO Festival of art and culture
The growing crowd at the 5th Annual SubZERO Festival of art and culture
The 2012 Better Brew Tasting Garden
The 2012 Better Brew Tasting Garden

Mere steps from the beerfest were gourmet food trucks and the engaging sights and sounds of local artists and musicians. Folks who came just for the Better Brew Tasting Garden had the opportunity to see and hear great artwork and music, while people who came primarily for the art, music, and food had the chance to try out a myriad of tasty beers.

Gourmet food trucks next to the 2012 Better Brew Tasting Garden
Gourmet food trucks next to the 2012 Better Brew Tasting Garden

Attendees had the opportunity to taste beer from 15 breweries, ranging from an Imperial Brau Pilsner from Gordon Biersch, German-style gold ales from Rock Bottom Campbell and Hermitage Brewing, ESB styles from Campbell Brewing and Firestone Walker, a porter from Uncommon Brewers, pale ales from Cedar Street Brewing and Seven Bridges Cooperative, to IPAs from Strike Brewing, Peter B’s Brewpub, Santa Cruz Aleworks, Lagunitas, and Seabright Brewery.

An element that elevates the status of a particular beer festival is the presence of the folks who make the beers being poured. And the Better Brew Tasting Garden had its fair share of brewmasters on hand to talk about their beers, including Strike Brewing’s Drew Ehrlich, Campbell Brewing’s Jim Turturici, Peter B’s Kevin Clark, and Rock Bottom Campbell’s Russell Clements.

Drew Ehrlich and Jenny Lewis of Strike Brewing and Josh Santos of The San Jose Blog at the 2012 Better Brew Tasting Garden
Drew Ehrlich and Jenny Lewis of Strike Brewing and Josh Santos of The San Jose Blog at the 2012 Better Brew Tasting Garden
Peter Estaniel of BetterBeerBlog, South Bay brewmaster Steve Donohue, and Drew Ehrlich of Strike Brewing at the 2012 Better Brew Tasting Garden
Peter Estaniel of BetterBeerBlog, South Bay brewmaster Steve Donohue, and Drew Ehrlich of Strike Brewing at the 2012 Better Brew Tasting Garden
Peter Estaniel of BetterBeerBlog, South Bay brewmaster Steve Donohue, and Drew Ehrlich of Strike Brewing at the 2012 Better Brew Tasting Garden
Peter Estaniel of BetterBeerBlog, South Bay brewmaster Steve Donohue, and Drew Ehrlich of Strike Brewing at the 2012 Better Brew Tasting Garden
Russell Clements of Rock Bottom Campbell at the 2012 Better Brew Tasting Garden
Russell Clements of Rock Bottom Campbell at the 2012 Better Brew Tasting Garden
Kevin Clark (r) of Peter B's at the 2012 Better Brew Tasting Garden
Kevin Clark (r) of Peter B’s at the 2012 Better Brew Tasting Garden
Jim Turturici of Campbell Brewing at the 2012 Better Brew Tasting Garden
Jim Turturici of Campbell Brewing at the 2012 Better Brew Tasting Garden

Of note was the public debut of the Bay Brewer’s Guild, a brewery collective from the South Bay, Santa Cruz, and Monterey areas whose mission is to further promote the craft beer scenes in these regions.

The public debut of The Bay Brewers Guild at the 2012 Better Brew Tasting Garden
The public debut of The Bay Brewers Guild at the 2012 Better Brew Tasting Garden

Despite the large number of attendees, beer tasting lines moved briskly and the filled-up space never felt too crowded. By all accounts, this beerfest was a resounding success thanks to the excellent turnout, a smoothly run operation by Peter and his team of volunteers, and the great fun that was had while enjoying good beer. Special mentions go to event sponsor Lagunitas Brewing Company and to Cherri Lakey and Brian Eder of the Anno Domini art gallery, the folks behind the SubZERO Festival.

On the heels of last year’s well-regarded, inaugural Better Brew Tasting Garden, this year’s version has raised the proverbial bar even higher, helping to provide further evidence that it is a good time to be a beer fan in the South Bay.

More pics below:

The 2012 Better Brew Tasting Garden hosted by BetterBeerBlog
The 2012 Better Brew Tasting Garden hosted by BetterBeerBlog
Tony Riffis of Firestone Walker at the 2012 Better Brew Tasting Garden
Tony Riffis of Firestone Walker at the 2012 Better Brew Tasting Garden
Great turnout at the 2012 Better Brew Tasting Garden
Great turnout at the 2012 Better Brew Tasting Garden

A great turnout at the 2012 Better Brew Tasting Garden

South Bay beer fans Randy, Andre, and Roy at the 2012 Better Brew Tasting Garden; their favorite beer was Seabright's Blur IPA
South Bay beer fans Randy, Andre, and Roy at the 2012 Better Brew Tasting Garden; their favorite beer was Seabright’s Blur IPA
San Jose beer enthusiasts Billy and Nicole at the 2012 Better Brew Tasting Garden; their favorite beer was Strike Brewing's IPA
San Jose beer enthusiasts Billy and Nicole at the 2012 Better Brew Tasting Garden; their favorite beer was Strike Brewing’s IPA
San Jose beer fan Stef and Seven Bridges Cooperative rep. at the 2012 Better Brew Tasting Garden
San Jose beer fan Stef and Seven Bridges Cooperative rep. at the 2012 Better Brew Tasting Garden
Performance art on the side of a building in view courtesy of the 5th Annual SubZERO Festival at the 2012 Better Brew Tasting Garden
Performance art on the side of a building in view courtesy of the 5th Annual SubZERO Festival at the 2012 Better Brew Tasting Garden
Great turnout at the 2012 Better Brew Tasting Garden
Reaching peak capacity at the 2012 Better Brew Tasting Garden
View from the Seven Bridges Cooperative table at the 2012 Better Brew Tasting Garden
View from the Seven Bridges Cooperative table at the 2012 Better Brew Tasting Garden
Volunteers and San Jose beer fans Kregg and Hiromi at the 2012 Better Brew Tasting Garden
Volunteers and San Jose beer fans Kregg and Hiromi at the 2012 Better Brew Tasting Garden
South Bay brewmaster Steve Donohue, Larry Hoang of Rock Bottom Campbell, and Jim Turturici of Campbell Brewing at the 2012 Better Brew Tasting Garden
South Bay brewmaster Steve Donohue, Larry Hoang of Rock Bottom Campbell, and Jim Turturici of Campbell Brewing at the 2012 Better Brew Tasting Garden
Yours truly and Peter Estaniel of BetterBeerBlog at the 2012 Better Brew Tasting Garden
Yours truly and Peter Estaniel of BetterBeerBlog at the 2012 Better Brew Tasting Garden
Yours truly and Mrs. BetterBeerBlog at the 2012 Better Brew Tasting Garden
Yours truly and Mrs. BetterBeerBlog at the 2012 Better Brew Tasting Garden
Good security presence at the Better Brew Tasting Garden
Good security presence at the Better Brew Tasting Garden
San Jose's SoFa district in fine form at the 5th Annual SubZERO Festival
San Jose’s SoFa district in fine form at the 5th Annual SubZERO Festival
Brian Eder and Cherri Lakey (r) of Anno Domini, organizers of the SubZERO Festival
Brian Eder and Cherri Lakey (r) of Anno Domini, organizers of the SubZERO Festival
Cherri Lakey of Anno Domini, organizer of the SubZERO Festival
Cherri Lakey of Anno Domini, organizer of the SubZERO Festival

[This post was shared on Examiner.com.]