A perfectly crisp fall day, a warm hand-me-down flannel and a glass of cold draft beer — it doesn’t get more New England than this. From Sea Dog Brewing to Sam Adams, craft brews appeal to old-timers and trend-setters alike. Sample over 200 varieties at this year’s Powder Keg Beer Festival.
Around ten years ago, the Town of Exeter Parks and Recreation and Exeter Area Chamber of Commerce caught the “craft beer wave,” and have been putting on this popular event since then, growing each year.
The festival will take place on Saturday, Oct. 2 along the Swasey Parkway in Exeter. Due to spacing and safety measures, the outdoor event has been divided into two sessions: 11 a.m.-1 p.m. and 2–4 p.m. While the event will take place in the same square footage, it will be at less than 50 percent of the usual capacity. This, as well as contactless entry, will help limit waiting and line times. Organizers anticipate selling out of tickets, so be sure to snag yours as soon as possible.
“One of the unique pieces about the festival is that not only is it here in Exeter, but it’s along Swasey Parkway, which makes for a great venue… The festival gives Exeter a chance to shine and show everybody all that the community has to offer,” says Exeter Area Chamber of Commerce President Jennifer Wheeler.
Whether you’re a craft beer connoisseur or have only recently entered the scene, there will be many new brews to sample and discover, with over 40 participants. Loaded Question Brewing Co., 603 Brewery, Stark Brewing Co., Stripe Nine Brewing Co, The Czar’s Brewery, Sawbelly Brewing and Throwback Brewery are just a few local breweries that will be represented. Read the full beer list here.
A major benefit of the two-session format is that festival-goers can make a day of it! Local businesses and eateries throughout downtown Exeter will be offering specials on the day of the event, so plan to check them out before or after enjoying the festival. Check out the full specials list at the Chamber of Commerce’s website.
“We want people to come in and enjoy Exeter; we have a lot of great establishments and retailers downtown. There’s ample opportunity for them to come before or after… to really explore Exeter,” says Director of Exeter Parks and Recreation Greg Bisson.
This year, the annual Community Children’s Fund Duck Race will take place at 3 p.m. during the festival’s second session, when thousands of rubber ducks will race down the river. 2,500 toy ducks are available for purchase — $5 for one of a $20 Quack Pack of five ducks, with several great prizes for top place finishers. Proceeds from this event benefit the Community Children’s Fund, providing warm bedding and clothing to local children.
The event is community-driven and community-focused. “Not only is it about bringing people here and trying beer, it’s about highlighting the community, supporting the community and coming together. There’s always a real sense of excitement,” says Wheeler.
Hungry after all that beer? There will also be a variety of food trucks, and water and sodas available for purchase.
Tickets are $35 if purchased before the event, and $45 at the door. They include a compostable tasting cup, unlimited beer samples and access to live entertainment. Additionally, for those not partaking in alcohol consumption there are designated driver tickets available — $10 if purchased before the event and $15 at the door. Cash and major credit cards are accepted, and tickets are non-refundable.
An ID, folding chairs or a blanket and your camera are some of the things festival organizers suggest bringing. Check out the full list, and get the answers to any of your other questions, here. As a souvenir, festival attendees can purchase Powder Keg Beer Festival pint glasses for $10, though these cannot be used to sample beer at the actual event. There are a variety of options for parking or taxi services.
If beer isn’t your thing, but you want to enjoy this lively festival, volunteer registration is still open. And, it comes with a t-shirt!
In addition to volunteers, Bisson and Wheeler emphasized their gratitude for their sponsors – especially McFarland Ford, the underwriters of this year’s event. Funds raised support community programs and services.
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New Hampshire Magazine is a proud sponsor of this event.
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