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Local, National and International Breweries Bring Their Best To The Philly Craft Beer Festival

By S. Mathur

Every year in March, rain or shine, the tents go up at the Navy Yard in Philadelphia. Anywhere from 175-200 beers from around the nation and around the world bring their best and newest offerings, and yet another edition of the Philly Craft Beer Festival is underway. Lynda Calimano VP of Marketing and Media at Starfish Junction Productions, which organizes the festival, says that it is now in its 12th year.

"If you love beer, love hanging with your friends, and love great street food (Philly's best food trucks vend at this event), then you'll love this event," she said. "The location is easy to get to (we run free shuttle buses from Septa) and we'll always promote the newest craft breweries and the latest offerings from the national award-winning breweries."

The emphasis on public transportation is part of the festival's concern with promoting safe drinking. There are even special tickets for designated drivers, who don't get to taste the beers, but can enjoy the festival, food, music and company. There are two sessions that visitors can choose from: general and VIP.

All visitors are given a souvenir tasting cup and the freedom to sample the 200+ beers on offer. The VIP Session is an hour longer, and has some rare beers that will not be available poured during the general session. Both sessions sell out quickly.

The Philly Craft Beer Festival has been listed as one of the top ten beer festivals in the country. Calimano feels this recognition is due to the beer selection and overall organization that make it an outstanding event.

"We strive to get our hands on the coolest, newest beers," she said. "But we also pride ourselves and have a great reputation for the execution of our events (quick ticket processing, not overselling the events and having long lines for beer samples and porta-potties, enough food trucks to satisfy). We always incorporate some kind of educational aspect to the show, some kind of seminar on the industry trends or brewing techniques."

Attendees are largely serious beer nerds, and surprisingly well behaved with it, according to regulars. It does get a little chilly in the tents, but the beer soon takes care of that. True to its name and inspiration, Starfish Junction partners with at least one local charity for every event it produces.

"For the last 11 years it has been the Committee to Benefit the Children," Calimano said. "It is a local Philadelphia charity that does a fantastic job providing resources for treatment, care and family support for children with cancer, leukemia, sickle cell anemia and other serious blood disorders. They are affiliated with the local St. Christopher's Hospital."

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