By Nicole Brodzik
For the fourth straight year, Gale Woods Farm in Minnetrista will host Mound-Westonka Rotary’s Tonka Brew Fest on Nov. 5. This year, the event will feature 20 Minnesota-based breweries and cideries, including six from the Lake Minnetonka area.
Tonka Brew Fest is a perennial sell-out and Rotary member Bill Pinegar said that’s in part because of the variety the brew fest offers.
“We focus on smaller craft breweries, the ones doing unique things,” he said. “We work to find different options so you’re not trying the same beer every time.”
The other big draw Pinegar sees for the event is that it’s a much more intimate setting for people to learn about what they’re drinking and the companies they are supporting.
“We have a limit to how many tickets are sold so that people aren’t waiting in lines all night,” he said. “That’s intentional. We want people to talk to the brewers, and each other. It’s like the biggest cocktail party in Mound, but with beer.”
That community feel is great for visitors and vendors alike. As Pinegar sees it, the extra face time in front of prospective or current customers only helps to promote local business and create connections between brewers. The Tonka Brew Fest has already seen some of the smaller breweries that were part of the original festivals go on to have great success.
“We have two breweries that used to be in Minnetonka, but relocated to bigger venues with their own tap rooms,” Pinegar said. “It’s great to see them being successful and still being a part of our festival back in the area they started out in.”
Their success speaks to the heart of what Mound-Westonka Rotary stands for, which is that for something to work, it must be good for all involved. Pinegar sees Tonka Brew Fest as a shining example of that philosophy in action.
“Part of our goal is to help the breweries and get their names out there, and it’s good for the attendees, who leave more knowledgeable,” Pinegar said. “It’s also great for Gale Woods Farms because we fill that barn and get new people out to see everything they do there, and it allows people to explore the city of Minnetrista. It’s great for the reputation of our community.”
Pinegar said those mutual benefits have helped build up the event to the level he always knew it was capable of. Attendees don’t just come from the metro area anymore, they’re flooding in from all over Minnesota and the Midwest.
“It’s grown to match our expectations,” Pinegar said. “It’s become a fun tradition for a lot of people, for the attendees and brewers.”
He said he hopes the addition of cideries this year will draw new crowds and change things up for the loyal customers at Tonka Brew Fest.
“Hard cider is a growing marketplace,” Pinegar said. “It’s something different and it allows for a gluten-free option, which as we know, beer is not.”
The price of admission for the 2016 Tonka Brew Fest is $40, which includes drinks, food, live entertainment and a commemorative tasting glass for the three-hour event. The tasting kicks off at 3 p.m. on Nov. 5 at Gale Woods Farm in Minnetrista. To buy tickets or for more information on Tonka Brew Fest, visit tonkabrewfest.com.