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SLO Craft Beer Festival brings beer enthusiasts together

Vendor pouring a beer at the SLO Craft Beer Festival.
Sarina Grossi
Vendor pouring a beer at the SLO Craft Beer Festival.

More than 2,000 beer lovers gathered at the Madonna Inn this weekend for the SLO Craft Beer Festival. At the Alex Madonna Expo Center, they got the opportunity to try out craft beers from about 40 breweries and distributors.

Austin Gasbarra helped organize the event with his father Mike, who created the festival. He said craft beer has been part of his family’s life for more than 12 years.

“I always used to laugh that my childhood memory was smelling hops in the kitchen while my dad was brewing beer over the oven, you know on the stove,” Gasbarra said.

Gasbarra also said that the festival has gotten bigger each year in terms of attendees and vendors. It also has expanded to include alcoholic beverages outside of beer, including whiskey and seltzers.

The festival also serves as a reunion ground for many Cal Poly Graduates. Mackey Peek is a Cal Poly alum. This year marks his and his friend’s seventh time attending the festival. Each year they dress according to a theme,

“So we decided to tracksuits for this year just on a whim. Yeah, we're trying to bring that, you know, that Eastern Europe Vibe to that small county SLO,” Peek said.

Though beer is at the heart of the festival, attendees also had the opportunity to sample from food places like insomnia cookies, listen to live music and participate in fun games including riding a mechanical bull. Attendees could even take a breathalyzer test for fun.

KCBX Reporter Sarina Grossi is currently working to earn her Journalism degree from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. She also works as a news anchor and reporter for KCPR Radio and as the Digital Manager for Mustang Media Group. Sarina was editor-in-chief of her community college newspaper. In her free time, she likes to read, watch movies, do arts and crafts, and go to thrift and antique stores.
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