Fest Report: Great Nebraska Beerfest

On the drive up to Omaha, I was trying to remember how many years I've gone to the Great Nebraska Beerfest.  I think I came up with this being the fourth.  The first year it was raining, the second it was so miserably I nearly got heat stroke, and the third was last year--the first year they moved to the ballpark from a giant parking lot.  That  brings us to this year, the fourth iteration for me.

The Great Nebraska Beerfest is one of my favorite festivals in the area.  Nebraska's permissive liquor laws allow breweries to come in for the festival with very little bureaucratic nonsense.  This allows the festival to pull some nice breweries that normally don't distribute in our neck of the woods.  Some out of market highlights from this year included Cigar City and Arizona Wilderness.

Not Beer
This festival is held on the concourse of the the Omaha Storm Chasers ballpark.  I'm a strong proponent of this venue for a beer festival.  It's very spread out, making lines manageable and has multiple large bathrooms.  Tickets were a very reasonable $45.  VIP was $65 and got you in an extra hour and a half early, an upgraded glass taster, and some food.  I got VIP and while the food was very lacking (a sad excuse for a sandwich with american cheese and what appeared to be some sort of turkey product), the rest of the VIP experience was great.  Getting in early allowed me to try all of the top beers on my list without any trouble navigating the festival.

Once GA let in, the front area by the gates became pretty crowded, but overall, lines were manageable throughout.  And when everyone by the entrance realized there was a ton more beer fest, that area cleared out too.

This is not a festival of whales, like Cigar City's Hunahpu's Day or Crooked Stave's What the Funk?!, but it is a great festival for the Midwest.  Omaha and Lincoln alone have enough breweries to fill a festival, but where this festival shines is the great out of market breweries.  Cigar City has been coming for years, and the opportunity to drink Cigar City barrel aged stuff without trading or traveling too far was great!

Every festival of this size has a few breweries or beers that are on the list that don't make it out.  I was disappointed that Revolution didn't show up, but other than Revolution and one single beer from from Brau Brothers, I was able to find everything I was looking for from the beer list.

Best in Show
The best beer at this festival shocked me.  Hailing from Sioux City, IA, Marto Brewing is a brewery in planning.  I tried all of their offerings at the festival, and all were good to great.  Most impressive was Ticonic, their raspberry sour.  They describe it as "This Loess Hills Farmhouse Series beer is dominated with tart fresh raspberry aroma wrapped in more raspberry. On the tongue expect tart raspberries with notes of raspberry on the finish. We like raspberries."  This bright red beer was perfectly tart and popping with raspberry flavor.  It wins best in show for me.  I can't wait for their brewery to open.

The runner up is from a brewery a bit closer to KC.  Blind Tiger's The Beer From IPAnema kicks you in the face with hops.  This double IPA was brewed with Mosaic hops, among others, and is dank and tropical at the same time.  If this is still on tap in Topeka, I'd recommend a trip to try it.

Check out a few photos on our Facebook page below.

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