Craft beer with a cause. Thats the lure behind the Macon Beer Festival, which returns Saturday with more beer to sample. The event is a fundraiser for Pints for Prostates, which focuses on prostate cancer awareness and research.
We have a big impact for sipping a little beer, said Steve Bell, a prostate cancer survivor who created the festival three years ago as an outreach project for the Rotary Club of Downtown.
The event has grown from a single location with 16 beers to a festival spanning downtown Macon that will offer 30 beers across 10 venues.
Last years festival sold out two days before the event. So this year we are offering more tickets, said Mechel McKinley, manager of Main Street Macon, which is co-sponsoring the event with Rotary.
There are 1,000 tickets for the festival, which lasts from 3-7 p.m. Tickets are $20 in advance and $25 on Saturday.
Admission includes a 4-ounce tasting glass and a pouch that will hold the glass and tasting ticket book. Festival-goers will have a chance to sample up to 30 beers -- three at each venue.
We want people to have the opportunity to experience the different bars and restaurants we have downtown, McKinley said. We want them to get the chance to see everything we have to offer.
The festival also will have free PSA screenings for men who are age 40 and older. Bell said it was this simple blood test that detected his cancer at age 42.
That early screening, early detection is whats going to make a difference ... and thats what we are promoting, he said. Men just need to get out there and know what is available for them, the different treatments and not to be afraid of it because everybody wants their father, their brother, their husband to be around for a long time and they can do that with just some simple health screenings.
The National Cancer Institute estimates there will be 238,590 new cases of prostate cancer this year, slightly higher than the 232,340 estimate for new breast cancer cases. The men who get tested at the festival will receive their results in the mail and any irregularities will suggest a follow-up with a doctor.
We know we are making a difference locally with the testing, Bell said. Locally, we know were making a big impact. Nationally, were also helping by giving funds to Pints for Prostates.
A new element to this years festival was an American Homebrewers Association sanctioned homebrew contest. The judging took place earlier this month but the winners will be announced Saturday.
We had 150 entries from all over the country, Bell said. That was a big hit and it raised more funds for us. The participants will win medals based on their beers so youll hopefully see some people walking around the beer festival with their medals on.
If the event sells out again, people are still encouraged to come downtown, McKinley said.
We dont shut down the venues, she said. They are welcome to still come and hang out and enjoy the atmosphere.
Festival admission also includes a free concert by Freddys Finest featuring Tommy Talton and Kofi Burbridge at the Cox Capitol Theatre and $5 off admission to the Weavers Weekend concert featuring the Futurebirds at the Crazy Bull.
Also this year, everyone will get a free one-year subscription to Draft magazine, McKinley said. Its going to be a great night to be downtown.
Macon Beer Festival
When: 3-7 p.m. Aug. 24
Where: Various locations downtown; ticket pickup at Third Street Park
Cost: $20 in advance; $25 the day of the festival
Information: www.themaconbeerfest.com or 301-5470