Beervana Fest: Where the brewers come out to play

I am trying to remember when my love for craft beer first began. I would have to say it started when I tasted my first Belgian about twelve years ago at the far away Ebenezer’s Pub in Lovell, Maine.

Needless to say, since then my preferences in styles have varied and increased. Like some of you, I am sure, I often go for a number of different styles of craft beer to sample. What better place to do this than a beer festival? Now that COVID restrictions have lessened and the prevalence of available beer festivals has increased, it is time to get out and enjoy them. I have attended two so far this year and in October Beervana will be my third beer fest – and first Beervana Fest. Not knowing anything beyond what I read in previous years, I was curious to hear what exactly Beervana was all about.

I had the opportunity and pleasure of speaking to Brian Shawn Oakley, co-founder of Beervana. I asked Brian about his love for craft beer and how Beervana all started. “I was not super excited about beer until craft beer was produced. I would go to the liquor store, often Nikki’s and purchase different craft beers with various styles.” This is how Brian met co- owner/founder of Beervana and owner of Nikki’s, Mike Iannazzi.

Brian and Mike, both passionate about craft beer, wanted a festival that represented unique, world-renowned beers. They wanted to establish a venue where one could enjoy and appreciate different styles, responsibly. At that time many of the brew fests being held had a history of overindulgence and partying. Brian felt that was not truly getting the craft beer experience.

What does Beervana mean to Brian, and would he attend if he was not the co -owner? “I want people to get out and be seen in a consolidated beer world landscape. I wanted an environment where people are participating and socializing. Where else would you get to taste 80 plus unique craft beers?”

“In a world where people are on cell phones, it is important to be able to communicate face to face.”

I couldn’t agree more with Brian, and the Beervana he and Mike have created has become just that.

The guidelines and mission statement of Beervana Fest are that each brewery has to produce a unique beer specifically for the fest. The brewery also needs to have a representative at the fest who is a team member. Personally, interacting with a brewer or staff from a brewery has made the beer fests I have attended amazing and unforgettable. Brian mentioned that this interaction between the brewery and attendee is what vendors love the most about being part of a craft beer fest.

Brian and Mike pay for all the beer served at Beervana ($30 – 40,000). They rotate and include RI breweries every year as well as many from nearby states. Allagash Brewing Company has been a part of Beervana from the beginning.

In addition to this, Brian and Mike work with breweries and produce a collaboration craft beer, this year collaborating breweries will be Beer’d Brewing Co., Buttonwoods Brewery, Long Live Beerworks and Origin Beer Project.

One has to wonder how Beervana has survived through the pandemic. Brian answered this by stating, “The credibility of the work put in as well as staying true to the mission statement of the festival has kept us active into our fourteenth year. The showcase of unique beers that are offered has contributed to this. There are no hidden fees for the vendor as well”

In the words of Sean Larkin, co-founder/owner and Master Brewer of Revival Brewery, “Their shows are top-notch. Brian and Mike curate a really good show for craft beer fans and brewers alike. They try to have different and interesting speakers every year. They have done a great job thus far curating this. It is good to support a festival that is local.”

This year Beervana will be changing its location to The Waterfire Arts Center on Valley Street in Providence. Being at a smaller location this year, Beervana will be held in two sessions this year to allow attendees room to interact and to avoid long lines at the brewery vendors.

It is no surprise that Beervana has succeeded and continues to be held annually. Brian says, “I encourage people to dress up in Halloween costumes.” What better way to spend Halloween than sipping on amazing unique craft beer and interacting with the beer community and brewery vendors?

After speaking with Brian, I am super excited about attending this fest. These tickets will sell out: To purchase a ticket go to beervanafest.com. Tickets are $65 per person. This includes a tasting glass and unlimited 2-ounce pours. In addition to over 50 tables of craft beers, there will be music and dancers.

A partial list of breweries was released when this article was written. Breweries are subject to change:
Allagash Brewing Company, Apponaug Brewing Company, Beer on Earth, Beer’d Brewing Co, Burlington Beer Co, Buttonwoods Brewery, Deciduous Brewing Company, Ommegang Brewing, Exhibit A Brewing Company, Finback Brewery, Forest and Main, Frost Beer Works, Narragansett Brewing Company, Good Measure Brewing Co, Greater Good Imperial Brewing Company, Grey Sail Brewing, Foley Brothers Brewing, Hive Beer, Lamplighter Brewing Co, Lawson’s Finest Liquids, Long Live Beerworks, Mast Landing Brewing Co, New England Brewing Co, Nikki’s Liquors, Notch Brewing, Origin Beer Project, Proclamation Ale Company, Ragged Island Brewing Co, River Styx Brewing, Shaidzon Beer Co, Stone Brewing, Tilted Barn Brewery, Union Station Brewery, Upper Pass Beer Company, Vitamin Sea Brewing, Von Trapp Brewing, Widowmaker Brewing, Wild East Brewing Co, Zero Gravity Brewery.

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