To the outside world, Real Wild & Woody looks like another excuse to get together and drink… a lot. But to the craft beer community, it is more than that. It’s an opportunity to come together with craft beer friends, talk about craft beer and drink some varieties of craft beer that we may not get our hands on otherwise.
This year, Real Wild and Woody enveloped a larger venue over its inaugural year and planted itself firmly at the Phoenix Convention Center. A welcomed change to many return fans. Sufficed to say it was real-er, wilder and woodier than last year and from the looks of it, nothing is going to stop this train from picking up speed in upcoming years. It will get bigger. It will get better. It will attract more fans.
Beer festivals bring beer fans together to laugh, rub elbows with brewers and taste many different kinds and varieties of beers we wouldn’t normally order in a pub or craft beer bar. We get to expand our palates and our network of friends and hopefully reach some new fans. We are fortunate to be amongst fellow crafters and fellow craft beer fans.
Fifty-five breweries were represented to over 2,000 attendees, and the overwhelming feeling of comradery amongst them was rivaled only by the climbing ABV imbibed from booth to booth. There was some talk about whose line was longest and which beer tasted the best, however, this festival seemed to be far more spreading the word about craft beer than pining for a popularity award. Four Peaks put its best foot forward by offering 2012 Hopsquatch Barley Wine and Sirius Black Russian Imperial Stout both aged in Four Roses barrels, as well as the Belgian Red. In addition to a few samples of our tasty brews, I personally enjoyed newcomers Goldwater Brewing Company’s Desert Rose – Cactus Fruit Ale.
What the outside world doesn’t see is that craft beer festivals are not just about peddling a particular beer or a specific style. Craft beer festivals, like Real Wild and Woody, are about the love of beer and sharing that love and passion with other like-minded fans. It’s a community. It’s a feeling of belonging and understanding. We don’t take ourselves too seriously and enjoy letting our Freak Flag fly something fierce.
Each brewery representative attending
the event recognizes the next brewery’s
struggle. Watch carefully and craft beer fan gets to see them laughing, talking, hugging and enjoying each other’s latest brew with gusto. For one brief moment, one gets to peek into this world that embraces the new-comers, respects those who have been around the block and exchanges stories of the wins and losses of operating a craft beer brewery.
What does this mean for Arizona Craft Beer Fans? It means that with each beer festival held in Arizona, a little more ground is being broken for craft beer. The newest brewery makes a debut. A new style of beer is tasted for the first time. The newest of the new gets to take center stage while giving brewers and brewery representatives the opportunity to see what’s breaking into the market; to see what their colleagues are doing and wondering if it fits into their plans too.
So no, Real Wild & Woody isn’t just another excuse to just get together and drink a lot. It’s an opportunity of like-minded individuals to congregate and taste dynamic beers, reconnect with old friends and make some new friends. It is a privilege to talk about the beer we make and the beer that others make. We work feverishly to continue to build a community that is dedicated to a collective partnership in the pursuit of supporting an industry comprised of our friends, our family, our co-workers, our brand and Arizona Craft Beer Fans.
Click to see more of photos from Real Wild & Woody.