‘Music and mead’: Music in the Mountains offers first Sierra Cask Ale Fest | TheUnion.com

‘Music and mead’: Music in the Mountains offers first Sierra Cask Ale Fest

Unless you are one of the thousands of patrons who have enjoyed the traditional Music in the Mountains annual BrewFest fundraiser which had, for decades, become a not-to-be-missed event, when you think beer, you may not also think classical music. In truth, many composers were also known to imbibe while creating masterpieces, said Music in the Mountains Executive Director Jenny Darlington-Person. “A fare number of composers really loved their ale, so there is a nice connection between music and mead.”

Music in the Mountains Board President Terry Brown and other members of the organization brought the idea of a BrewFest to fruition 30 years ago. The extraordinarily successful event grew to welcome thousands of patrons over its run, but rising costs and increased fire danger (when BrewFest traditionally took place) prompted the organizers to look at alternatives.

This year, Music in the Mountains has upgraded their popular fundraiser from the pedestrian BeerFest to a more sophisticated Cask Fest. Darlington-Person said the move to a select tasting stemmed from a number of factors, including the sheer number of similar events and a desire to do something a little bit different. “It was the longest continuously running BrewFest in California, but now there are so many, and the costs just kept rising with venue and beer costs, along with the increased fire danger in late summer/early fall, so we decided to move the event indoors and make it more intimate and really feature special beers.” Planners say instead of waiting in long lines to taste something average, patrons will imbibe in unique blends and creations without the massive crowds.

The Sierra Cask Ale Fest promises less waiting and more tasting, featuring the best cask, barrel-aged, and specialty beers in Northern California, including a special selection of home brews.

“This is for beer connoisseurs, beer enthusiasts who want to taste special beers that you would normally have to travel to each brewery individually to find,” Darlington-Person said. “When you purchase a ticket to the Sierra Cask Ale Fest, you are purchasing an experience the likes of which you currently cannot find anywhere else in Northern California. The closest similar event is 500 miles from us.”

This event promises to be upscale, but not exclusive. Ticket holders will enjoy short lines inside the Grass Valley Veterans Hall with food, live music, a photo zone sponsored by Stucki Jewelers and a lounge for designated drivers, along with a wide selection of cask, barrel-aged and specialty brews.

Brewers confirmed for the inaugural event include Grass Valley Brewing Company, Anderson Valley Brewing, King Cong Brewing, Gold Vibe Kombucha, Nevada County Mead, Other Brother Beer, Monk’s Cellar, Nevada County Home Brewers/Sierra Moonshiners and Bullmastiff Brewery, among others.

A wide variety of brews are expected to be available for tasting, including a coco nib vanilla bean stout, bourbon barrel stout, salted caramel porter, black currant cider, Nectarian mead and English pale ale, just to name a few.

Beer lovers will also enjoy food, popular jazz music, and a fun afternoon with a more discerning selection to taste. “Not stuffy, but a little more upscale — fun, but upscale,” Darlington-Person added.

Music will be provided by The Joe Mazzaferro quartet. Darlington-Person said, “Joe is a professor of jazz music and trumpet at the Pacific Conservatory of Music at University of the Pacific (UOP), and he has several different ensembles. His quartet will be coming to Ale Fest and to bring it full circle, his big band will be playing our Brass, Brats, and Brews on July 9.”

Music in the Mountains was created in 1982 to bring world class music to Nevada County and is celebrating 40 years, with their 41st Summerfest kicking off next month. Darlington-Person said the secret to their longevity is great community support. “The secret is great artists and local support, community members in the chorus, businesses that sponsor our concerts, a lot of committed donors- some have been with us 20, 30, 40 years.”

Following this fundraising event, Music in the Mountains kicks off their season on June 18 with Opening Night in the Garden at a private residence featuring dinner, drinks, dessert, and a concert and concludes the season with the aforementioned July 9 Brass, Brats, and Brews. The group has another half dozen or so presentations planned in between. It’s an ambitious schedule that also includes a Disney movie and the very popular July 3 celebration.

Music in the Mountains believes in the power of music. “We envision a thriving Nevada County that is transformed by great music. We think that music transforms people. It gives them new perspectives. It brings them together,” Darlington-Person said. “One of the things that I love about music, and concerts, is that at a time that is as divided as ours is right now, you can have people that are politically, religiously, socially at opposite ends of the spectrum and they can sit right next to each other at a concert hall and have a shared human experience and I think very few things offer that, outside of music.”

You can support that vision and experience that transformation while enjoying unique beers this weekend. Get your tickets for Sierra Cask Ale Fest now or take a look at the Music in the Mountains calendar of events at http://www.musicinthemountains.org.

Hollie Grimaldi Flores is a Nevada County resident and freelance writer for hire, as well as a podcaster at HollieGrams. You can hear her episodes at http://www.buzzsprout.com/1332253. She can be reached at holliesallwrite@gmail.com


Martha O’Heir and Tim Geckle, Music in the Mountains Vice President, at the 2019 BrewFest. | Photo by Jenny Darlington-Person


WHAT: Sierra Cask Ale Festival, a benefit for Music in the Mountains

WHERE: Grass Valley Veterans Memorial Building

WHEN: Saturday, May 14. Two sessions: 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.

TICKETS: VIP tickets available for early entry at 10 a.m. – limited. General admission $75 in advance / $100 at the door / $150 VIP (1sts session only)/ $30 Designated Driver. This is a 21+ event.

MORE INFO: Visit http://www.musicinthemountains.org or email info@musicinthemountains.org

Photo by Jenny Darlington-Person

Photo by Jenny Darlington-Person

Photo by Jenny Darlington-Person
Jenny Darlington-Person and Kevin Ross, Music in the Mountains Operations Manager, at Grass Valley Brewing Co.
Photo by Chad Wingo
Attendees enjoy the 2019 BrewFest at the Nevada County Fairgrounds.
Photo by Jenny Darlington-Person

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