Chilltown Craft Beer Festival

Maybe this should be entitled “Reflections from the Other Side.” Not too long ago, the only mention of beer festivals were the ones we went to as paying attendees, eager to seek out the craft brewers – who were the focal point of said festivals – and their delicious concoctions. This time around, I was fortunate enough to be part of the crew putting this thing together. My part was small in the grand scheme of things, but at the same time, it was something I was more than happy in which to be a participant.

About Chilltown Craft Beer Festival

The festival was a fundraiser, supporting the Child Abuse Program at Visiting Homemaker Service of Hudson County . According to the event site “At VHS we believe ‘no child should live in fear, especially at home.’ Our goal is to raise $50,000 for V-CAP through CCBF ticket sales and sponsorships. This special program focuses on the family as a whole.”

Volunteering – First Session

For session one, I was pouring for Stoudts while Jay and Irv had Elysian, 21st Amendment and Uinta on the other side of the ballroom. We set up our stations and got to know many of the brewers who came out to share their wares, as well as people who had also volunteered to work in place of the brewers. I spoke to the guy at the Clown Shoes table next to me and after a while both of us were wondering when it was going to pick up. It started out kind of slow. Wouldn’t you know it, just as we had this conversation, a large influx of people walked through the doors and the party had truly begun. Boom.

Irving's Uinta table

Irving’s Uinta table

I had a great time chatting it up with people as I poured beers for them, giving them an insight as to what they were drinking and what they should expect from the appearance, smell, taste and mouthfeel. I was given the chance to take an early break where I could take off my work shirt and walk around like everyone else and sample beer. I chatted up many of the brewers, including Ron Johnson from Yards, Nancy Harris and Brendan O’Neill from NJ Beer Co. – a local brewery, Trevor Jankowski from Lagunitas, and Brian Boak from Boaks – another one of the local Jersey breweries in attendance. The highlight was probably drinking from the Carton tap. I had gotten a taste of Boat, which is a hopped-up session beer that they have made quite popular. But it was the Regular Coffee that blew my mind. That beer was phenomenal. A couple of people from the brewery were there to speak to about it – Chris and Audrey I believe were their names. I kept raving about that beer. Side note – my fiancée loves coffee. She’s not a big fan of craft beer. She dislikes just about everything I bring home and try to get her to taste, she hates most of them to be honest. I have to say that I think I found one that may win her over. If that’s not enough, Augie Carton – the man himself – came in for a visit before heading out to a UFC event. I got the chance to talk with him for a while and mentioned her lack of interest in craft beer. He told me we’d work on that together and extended an invite to me and my lady to head down to their brewery for some beer tasting/cajoling. I can’t wait to head down there and make that happen.

Volunteering – Second Session

The period between the two sessions was rather calm and docile. We all restocked what we needed and awaited the next storm of people to come. Tara took the new group of volunteers and went over procedural business with them. I grabbed a bite to eat and enjoyed some cold brew. Session two was much the same as the previous one, although with a more steady group of people flowing in rather than the rush that hit us during the middle of the first one. This time around though, I was on the other side of the floor serving up Elysian and 21st Amendment, the same spot Irv and Jay had been manning earlier in the day. I met a lady named Susan who was working the Flying Dog table nearby and an old pal was also there – Os Cruz. I got to catch up with him on everything that’s going on in his world, all while sampling some of the fine brews he had on hand that were not available to the public – all I have to do is say Hill Farmstead and Lawson’s Finest. I know you are all drooling already. Susan was very cool and gave me her business card. When I saw “Global Brewers Guild” on it, I knew she was legit. She mentioned the possibility of us helping out at the A.C. Beerfest coming up at the beginning of April. Go ahead, twist my arm a little harder.



This was the first year that Chilltown Craft Beer Festival was around, and while it may have had a few bumps along the way, for the most part what Brant, Tara and crew pulled off was a smash hit. I thoroughly enjoyed working all day with them. And while I volunteered for the gig and wasn’t technically paid, I did gain a wealth of experience and insight on the inner workings of a craft beer festival, I got to meet and rub elbows with brewers, talking shop while drinking their beer. The end of my night was highlighted by walking out with a huge haul of assorted beers. Stuff that was left over and not to be claimed. I got the ok to grab what I wanted and made out with plenty. That in itself is payment enough. Throw in the experience and the fun I had, and you know what? It may not have been monetary, but I was well compensated for offering my time to assist. Thank you Brant and Tara and thanks to the brewers who happily parted with their beers to make me a happy boy.

I can’t wait for the next time Chilltown Craft Beer Festival makes its mark on Jersey City. I’ll be there. I’ll be more than happy to offer my time and services to the crew again. It’s for a good cause and you get to enjoy some great beer with friends. And you can make new ones along the way, including some of the brewers. I’ll drink to that. Cheers…


Participating Breweries:

21st Amendment Brewing
Brooklyn Brewery
Brouwerij Rodenbach
Carton Brewing Co.
Climax Brewing Co.
Elysian Brewing Co.
Flying Dog Brewery
Lagunitas Brewing Co.
New Holland Brewing Co.
Newburgh Brewing Co.
NJ Beer Co.
Smuttynose Brewing Co.
Uinta Brewing Co.
Yards Brewing Co.