The 2017 Atlantic City Beer Festival (ACBF) marked ten straight years that I’ve attended this event. This year’s installment was, without question, the most impressive of all that took place previously. Many years ago, ACBF was not taken seriously by craft beer consumers due to the quality of vendors, the inclusion of many boardwalk games located throughout the festival, and the number of ticketholders whose goal was to get trashed without any interest of what they were drinking. Within the past few years, ACBF has been revamped to resemble The Great American Beer Festival (Denver, CO) with higher quality brewers and a silent disco.
As the amount of New Jersey craft brewers increase (68 as of March 2017), at least half were in attendance this year. These brewers included fan favorites such as Cape May Brewing and Bolero Snort Brewing (Ridgefield Park, NJ), as well as newer brewers like Atco Brewing and Brix City Brewing (Little Ferry, NJ). As a result, they only added to the attraction of the event and were centrally located within the festival.
One of the biggest surprises of ACBF was the New Jersey debut of Cigar City Brewing (Tampa, FL). They are widely regarded as one of the top breweries in the country and two of their flagship beers were poured, Jai Alai IPA and Maduro Brown Ale. Cigar City also poured their Invasion Pale Ale in the VIP Lounge, which seemed to kick after 30 minutes.
Another brewery that was widely visible throughout ACBF was Demented Brewing (Middlesex, NJ). Not only did they have their own booth, but a few of their other beers were poured in the VIP Lounge and at the New Jersey Craft Beer Club booth. The VIP Lounge was also pouring Free Parking, a collaboration German Pilsner from Forgotten Boardwalk Brewing (Cherry Hill, NJ) and Good Time Tricycle (the promoter of ACBF).
Although ACBF is broken up into 3 sessions, I was in attendance for the Saturday afternoon session, so I am not sure if there were any hiccups that took place this year. Given the number of brewers that participated in 2017, ACBF is now considered the second largest beer festival in the country. Therefore, we can only ask the obvious question, “How can we top last year?”