BROOKSVILLE — Craft beer is a growing trend across the United States. Its popularity is huge in the Tampa Bay area, and Hernando County is no exception.
Home to a number of home brewers and with a large home brew club (Beer Pressure of the Nature Coast), Hernando is also hosting its first brewing company, Marker 48 Brewing in Spring Hill, which is set to open its doors to the public this month.
So what better way to celebrate the love of craft beer than with a festival?
The Greater Hernando County Chamber of Commerce will do just that when it presents the inaugural Hernando Untapped Craft Beer and Wine Festival on Oct. 16 on the grounds at Brooksville-Tampa Bay Regional Airport headquarters.
"Craft beer is huge right now," event coordinator Dawn Badami said. "It was time for something new and refreshing."
The outdoor event will include 13 breweries and three wineries, which will offer more than 50 varieties of their craft beers and wines.
Guests will each receive a wine glass for unlimited samplings of beer and wine. Special ticket prices are available for designated drivers and nondrinkers.
Participating breweries and wineries extend beyond Hernando County, with large craft brewers such as Cigar City Brewing in Tampa, Big Storm Brewing in Odessa, Mad Beach Brewing in Madeira Beach and Island Grove Winery in Hawthorne.
"The response was overwhelming," said event chairman Chris Scavuzzo with Brown & Brown Insurance, the event's presenting sponsor. "We're just so thankful for Maurice and Tina (Ryman) with Marker 48. They have been the driving force of this event. They had the contacts. We're so thankful to them."
Scavuzzo said that without the Rymans, the event would not have been as successfully pulled together.
"This is an event that would usually take a year to put together," Scavuzzo said. "But we did it in four months."
He also said that sponsorships alone have met last year's gross income from the chamber's annual Beach Bash, which this event replaces. The Beach Bash had been the chamber's largest fundraiser in recent years.
"The Beach Bash ran its course," said Patricia Crowley, chamber president. "I've had this idea (for a craft beer festival) for a while, and this will be the first one held in Hernando County. …With the opening of Marker 48, the timing was right."
Several food trucks have signed on for the event, including Cajun in a Truck, Chef Images, Just Smokin BBQ, the Bacon Boss and Chef Images.
The evening will also include live entertainment with the Greg Billings Band and games such as giant Jenga, obstacle courses and a silent disco.
"We're really excited," Badami said. "It really is shaping up to be spectacular night. I can't wait."