You don’t have to know a lager from an imperial stout to enjoy a beer festival. But you can learn the difference by tasting different varieties as Cheers on the Pier returns for its second year at the convention center.
On Saturday from 3 p.m. – 7 p.m., ticket holders will have the opportunity to sample craft beers from 40 different breweries, as well as cider, wine and bourbon.
“You get a sampling glass and ticket card, and go to different booths to sample a variety of beers and wine,” event co-organizer Tisha Gainey said. “You also get a ticket for a sample of bourbon and a ticket for a cocktail.”
Gainey said the event takes over about one-third of the convention center and spills out onto the pier, where they’ll have a space set up to showcase Kentucky breweries and a stage for live music.
“This is great not only for beer savvy people, but also beginners wanting to try something new,” she said. It’s a sampling event. It’s just entertaining and fun.”
A former beer distributor from Louisville, Gainey said she and her Cheers co-organizer worked several festivals in the industry before deciding they wanted to host their own. Their festivals always benefit a charity. A recent cause was a Louisville food bank where they provided 30,000 meals. This year, part of the proceeds will go to the Cliff Hagan Boys and Girls Club, who will be there handing out free bottles of water.
While the festival organizers may not be from Owensboro, the city will be well-represented through partners Kentucky Legend and O.Z. Tyler Distillery, as well as pre and post events with local businesses.
Kentucky Legend marketing director Brooklyn Maple said they have been a supporter of Cheers on the Pier since they first brought the idea to Owensboro.
“The partnership began with an easy idea in mind,” she said. “The event is on the Kentucky Legend pier and we simply had to be involved.”
Kentucky Legend will be sampling some of their newest products at the event. “It is a great opportunity for us to highlight some of our most delicious products while pairing them with various brews at one of our most iconic locations in town,” Maple said.
Local distillery O.Z. Tyler will be sampling their Kentucky Bourbon, which was released in April, as well as a specialty cocktail called the Summer Sunset.
“We got involved with Cheers on the Pier last year for their inaugural event here in Owensboro,” Nicole Ebelhar, O.Z. Tyler event coordinator said. “The event was a huge success last year and we are excited to be a part of it again this year and be the exclusive bourbon partner with Cheers on the Pier.”
To see bourbon making in action, reduced price distillery tours are available as an add-on when buying festival tickets.
Event organizers are glad to be back. “It’s refreshing to see everyone so excited,” Gainey said. “Last year we had lots of people who had never been to a beer festival. We’re excited to see some very friendly faces in Owensboro, and we also had people come from Evansville and Nashville and the area.”
To ensure everyone stays safe, the festival offers discounted designated driver tickets for those who won’t partake. There are also discounted hotel rooms available at the Holiday Inn if you mention the event.
With a pre-party Friday night at Lure and an official after party at Bar Louie, the fun isn’t limited to the festival hours. Gainey advises you to “catch the trolly and the cheers don’t stop.”
General admission is $35 if purchased online. Prices at the door will be higher. Designated drivers (with no alcohol sampling) are $10. Get tickets at www.cheersonthepier.com.