HAMPTON, Va. - A local brewery is readying a festival featuring beers from 40 craft beer makers around the country.
Oozlefinch Beers and Blending's Friends With Benefits SourFest is scheduled for Saturday, May 22, bringing in sour brews from as close as Chesapeake and Norfolk to as far away as California.
Brewery CEO Russ Tinsley says the festival was initially planned to be an all-virtual event with beers shipped to the homes of those who bought tickets, but relaxed COVID rules led to a change of heart two months ago.
"We found out we could hold the event here," said Tinsley of the decision to bring the festival to Oozlefinch's Fort Monroe property. "Everyone is working really hard. For me, I think I have more of an opportunity to be crazy stoked about it because we're gonna do something that I think...just being able to mix the COVID online and the in-person fest is something that hasn't been done yet."
Friends With Benefits is scheduled to run at Oozlefinch from 2 p.m.-10 p.m. with unlimited beer tastings, live music and a list of food trucks. The online aspect of the festival is also still happening for those who aren't local or aren't comfortable attending in-person.
Tinsley says to be on the safe side the number of tickets he's selling for the festival is fewer than what Virginia is currently allowing under its COVID rules, but he's excited at the chance to introduce sour beers, an Oozlefinch specialty, to a larger crowd.
"We've been doing them for a long time, but people in this area are just starting to get really excited about the types of beers that we're bringing in. We're stoked to be able to bring in some of these breweries and be able to offer beers here that have never been served here in Virginia," he said.
As an incentive for breweries to send their beers to Hampton, Tinsley says he's donating a portion of proceeds, around $17,500 total, to charities in participating breweries' markets. Guests can vote in beer-related mock elections to help decide how much of the pot charities receive.
Non-sour beers will also be available as 'palate-cleansers,' Tinsley says.
Tickets to attend Friends With Benefits SourFest are $65. Click HERE to purchase tickets and for a list of participating breweries.