Lake Geneva Beer & Spirits Festival is ideal chance to sample some suds

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Neil Johnson
Wednesday, November 1, 2017

LAKE GENEVA—Since its early years, Lake Geneva's Beer & Spirits Festival has often wrapped itself around the Halloween holiday—at least thematically.

The beer and spirits-tasting festival encourages guests to wear costumes, and again this year, it's being held the weekend after Halloween.

Beer & Spirits brings local and regional guests a late fall blush of beverages, featuring beer and spirits tastings from dozens—this year, 35—of craft brewers. It also includes games, music and photo booths for guests.

Organizers say what's different this year is the venue: Beer & Spirits is being held at The Ridge Hotel in Lake
Geneva, which recently unveiled renovations that give it a new look inside and out.

In earlier years of the festival's eight-year run, it had been held at the Grand Geneva Resort Spa in Lake Geneva, and was an all-indoor festival. Ashley Duchemin, event coordinator with Nei-Turner, a local media group that organizes Beer & Spirts, said guests surveyed at previous festivals said they wanted to see Beer & Spirits have both indoor and outdoor access.

Duchemin said The Ridge agreed to host the festival with a setup that includes a tent area outside, along with indoor areas that include a VIP lounge.

“The Ridge has just finished a multi-million-dollar renovation. And the outdoor space is brand new,” Duchemin said.

She added the event is “limited” to 35 microbrewers and a few distilleries. “Limited” is a bit of a misnomer, because the festival is seeing a spurt in growth in its brewer guest list this year.

In earlier inceptions, Beer & Spirits included fewer beverage makers—normally between 15 and 20 different craft brewers. In 2016, there were 30 microbreweries.

Duchemin said this year, Beer & Spirits should provide guests with nearly 150 different varieties of beer.

Some of the guests, according to the event's website, include Wisconsin craft brewers Geneva Lake Brewing Company, MobCraft Beer and One Barrel Brewing Company. Regional craft brewers at the event include Detroit-based Atwater Brewery.

Visitors also can taste some spirits from regional distilleries such as Meloz, a Madison distillery that makes “domel”—a clear honey spirit the company says is made from distilled mead.

Beer & Spirits will host games inside and out this year, including Lake Geneva Clue Room, a company that provides complex puzzle games that require entrants to use teamwork to solve themed mysteries.

Duchemin said this year's event also encourages attendees to dress in costume.

The event, which draws a blend of local visitors along with Chicagoland tourists, had an influx last year of guests who were decked out in Chicago Cubs attire, celebrating the team's 2016 World Series victory, Duchemin said.

Illinois guests might have less baseball fortune to crow about this year, but local visitors should know all proceeds from a silent auction will benefit a new effort that is close to home. Duchemin said Never Say Never Playland, a nonprofit group, will receive auction to fuel its plans to build and ADA-compliant community playground.

The group plans to start construction on the playground, which would be near Veterans Park, in 2018, Duchemin said.

“This would be the first playground of its kind in the Walworth County. It's a pretty big deal for the group and the community,” she said.

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